The Golborne Link, which would take HS2 trains on the line to Glasgow, has been formally ditched after months of speculation. Sources insisted the date was a coincidence and it had been in the diary for weeks
Image: Manchester Evening News)
A controversial £2bn rail link to Scotland has been quietly axed, on the day Westminster was distracted by Boris Johnson ’s no-confidence vote.
Ministers confirmed on Monday they were removing Golborne Link from the High Speed 2 line – despite not having worked out what they’ll replace it with yet.
The 13-mile stretch of track would have connected HS2 trains from the North West of England onto the West Coast main line to Glasgow.
But it was opposed by local MPs including Sir Graham Brady, who happens to chair the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers that ran a no confidence vote in the PM.
Sir Graham was told about plans to scrap the link in April, two months before it was confirmed by ministers in a written statement to Parliament with no debate.
A government source stressed Monday’s formal announcement had been in the diary for weeks and had no connection to Sir Graham.
Julian Hamilton/Daily Mirror)
Axing the link near Manchester would save £2-3bn but cut Scotland-bound trains from two to one per hour, with slower journeys.
Last year’s Union Connectivity Review, by Network Rail chairman Sir Peter Hendy, “does not resolve all the issues” with capacity.
Ministers have been weighing up scrapping it for months. Last month Department for Transport officials said ministers needed to make a decision – both about whether to scrap it and what to replace it with.
DFT official Clive Maxwell told the Public Accounts Committee: “They need to consider the options and the case for taking out the Golborne link, and allowing time for consideration, for example, of what those alternatives could be.”
But in a written statement on Monday, Transport Minister Andrew Stephenson said “alternatives” to the link are still being “considered”.
It’s understood ministers are still looking at the best way to speed up services to Scotland.
Mr Stephenson said: “Removing this link is about ensuring that we’ve left no stone unturned when it comes to working with our Scottish counterparts to find a solution that will best serve the great people of Scotland.”