Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has received a letter from The High Speed Rail Group (HSRG), Railway Industry Association (RIA) and Rail Freight Group (RFG) calling on him to ensure that the Golborne Link of HS2 Phase 2b is built.
This news comes after the recent reveal that a senior MP has received private assurances from Shapps that the £3bn Golborne Link will no longer be part of HS2’s expansion plans. Hampering routes through the north by clogging up the WCML, this news could have dramatic effects on the rail network linking London, Birmingham, and Scotland. This would mean commuter travel will be weakened, as well as negative implications for freight passage into Scotland.
In the letter to Mr Shapps, the rail leaders outline that:
“The Golborne Link has been provided for in the budget for HS2 and is needed to allow adequate capacity on the planned integrated national rail network to fulfil its vital function of handling the nation’s longer distance movements of both passengers and freight.”
The letter goes on to outline how the recent news, starkly contradicts the information from the Integrated Rail Plan, which could see the government further extend the timetable for the projects expansion. Scrapping the Golborne Link, resulting in further delays will continue to isolate the northern communities that are crying out for better rail links and accessibility.
RIA chief executive Darren Caplan said:
“The Golborne Link is a vital part of HS2 and is essential to opening up rail capacity in the north of England. Rail suppliers have been planning on delivering the Link, as it was specifically provided for in both the original full HS2 scheme and the revised version in the Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands published last November.
It is already the case that the full benefits of HS2 will not be realised until the Eastern Leg is reinstated, making the Golborne Link on the Western Leg all the more crucial. So, given recent reports, we urge the Government to confirm its commitment to the Golborne Link as a key part of HS2.”
This will not only provide certainty for the rail businesses who will be required to work on the scheme, but it would also give wider confidence that the clear connectivity and capacity improvements provided by the Golborne Link will be delivered, and benefit communities right across the UK in the years ahead.”
H2S must ensure the links from London to Northern England and Scotland are prioritised, not just for the commuters in desperate need of more available transport links, but also for the future prosperity of freight within the sector.