WIGAN Council has welcomed the Government's decision to approve the HS2 project which is set to connect the borough to the high-speed railway line.

Despite opposition over the project's cost, which could rise to £106bn, and the impact on the environment, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has approved the project today, Tuesday.

The announcement follows the completion of a Government-commissioned review by former HS2 Ltd chairman Douglas Oakervee into whether or not the programme should be scrapped.

With Wigan due to be one of the stops included in the line, the local authority says it will position the town as a "transport hub for rail travellers".

Wigan Council leader David Molyneux said: “We welcome the announcement today on the HS2 review.

"As long-term supporters of the high-speed rail route, we believe that it should be delivered as soon as possible to benefit Wigan and the whole of the North West.

“Wigan is one of only a small number of places nationally that will have a high speed rail station and HS2’s arrival here would position us as a transport hub for rail travellers from Lancashire, Merseyside and Cheshire as well as Wigan.

"Significantly improved connections for the north will also go a long way to rebalancing our country’s economy.”

Leigh Journal:

Boris Johnson speaking in the House of Commons today, Tuesday. Picture: PA Wire

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The Prime Minister told the House of Commons that his Government had the "guts to take the decision" to deliver prosperity across the country.

To avoid "further blow outs" in HS2's cost or schedule, a series of measures will be taken to "restore discipline to the programme", he said.

This will include appointing a minister whose full-time job will be to oversee the project, and changes to the way HS2 is managed.

Mr Johnson said: "The review recently conducted by Douglas Oakervee ... leaves no doubt of the clinching case for high-speed rail.

"A vast increase in capacity with hundreds of thousands of extra seats making it much easier for travellers to move up and down our long, narrow country.

"And that means faster journey times, not just more capacity."

It was unable to develop its own estimate of costs but considered that the amount "could be around 15 to 20 per cent higher" than figures set out by HS2 Ltd chairman Allan Cook last year.

In a stocktake report, Mr Cook gave an estimate of between £81bn and £88bn, compared with a budget of £62.4bn (both at 2019 prices).

Phase 1 of HS2 will run between London and Birmingham.

A second, Y-shaped phase will launching in two stages: Phase 2a from Birmingham to Crewe, followed by Phase 2b from Crewe to Manchester, and Birmingham to Leeds.

Mr Johnson said the Government will seek to identify where cost savings can be made in Phase 1 without carrying out a detailed redesign.

Before designs for Phase 2b are finalised and legislation is introduced, the Government will "introduce an integrated plan for rail in the North", he told MPs.

He added: "It will, in line with the findings of the Oakervee Review, look at how we can best design and integrate rail investments across the North including Northern Powerhouse Rail between Leeds and Manchester."

In his column in the Journal last week, Leigh MP James Grundy said he would "vote against the Golborne spur of HS2", which would run through Lowton and Golborne.

He said the proposed line enters Lowton in the south, and "would destroy the Enterprise Way business park, meaning the loss of more than a hundred skilled jobs in a constituency".