WIGAN Council leader David Molyneux is "calling for clarity" over a leg of the HS2 project affecting the borough after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps cast doubt on the route.

The Golborne spur, part of the high speed rail network's Phase 2b route, would run through Golborne and Lowton, and has been widely criticised by residents and Leigh MP James Grundy.

Mr Grundy, a serving Lowton East councillor, has campaigned against the spur for years and has said the proposed line "would destroy the Enterprise Way business park", causing the loss of more than 100 skilled jobs in the constituency.

But this week, Conservative MPs, including Mr Grundy, were told by the Transport Secretary that the spur's inclusion in the project is at risk of being scrapped.

He said: “The Golborne spur is currently projected to cost between two and three billion but delivers very little for that sum.

"The writing is on the wall as far as the future of the Golborne Spur is concerned.

"We expect to make the final decision on it in months, not years.”

However, council leader Cllr Molyneux has welcomed the HS2 plans, which would bring a connection to Wigan, said he received a letter from the Transport Secretary this week outlining his commitment to Phase 2b.

He is now seeking clarity over the route after seeing reports that the Golborne spur may be shelved.

Leigh Journal:

Wigan Council leader David Molyneux

READ > 'Relief' for Leigh MP after Transport Secretary indicates HS2 Golborne spur may be scrapped

Cllr Molyneux said: “We are long-term supporters of HS2 and have spoken at length in recent years about the huge beneficial impact it would have on Wigan borough and the wider region.

“We therefore welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement earlier this week.

“However, I’m calling for clarity regarding Phase 2b of the project.

“A letter addressed to Wigan Council received from the Transport Secretary this week outlines that the Government remains committed to Phase 2b but, as part of an integrated plan for rail in the north, there will be further assessment of current designs.

“It is disappointing to have seen comments reported in the media that go much further, specifically highlighting that the Golborne spur could be reconsidered.

“Alternatives have already been considered – including upgrades to the West Coast Main Line or a link further south of Golborne – but were rejected as they would impact on the benefits that HS2 is predicted to produce.

“Wigan is one of few places nationally that will have a high speed rail station and HS2’s arrival here would position us as a regional transport hub.

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

“Further uncertainty and mixed messages about aspects of the project are far from helpful for all concerned.”

In a statement today, Friday, a Department for Transport spokesman said: “HS2 is vital to boost capacity on our railways, improve connections across the country and rebalance prosperity and opportunity.

“The Golborne Link will be considered as part of the integrated rail plan, to ensure people in the North of England and Scotland benefit from improved rail links in the quickest and most cost-efficient way.”