HS2 in Hansard 02/09/2014

High Speed 2 (Warrington)
4 pm
Mr Philip Hollobone (in the Chair): The Minister has
brought the plane into the terminal bang on time. We
now switch from planes to trains, because we have an
important debate on the effect on Warrington of the
proposed route of High Speed 2, in the name of David
Mowat. Will all of those who are not staying for this
debate please leave the room quickly and quietly so that
the train can leave the platform on time?
David Mowat (Warrington South) (Con): It is a pleasure
to serve under your chairmanship for this important
debate, Mr Hollobone—it is also a relief not to have to
follow the French accent of the Under-Secretary of
State for Business, Innovation and Skills,my hon. Friend
the Member for Mid Norfolk (George Freeman).
I have been a Member of Parliament for four and a
half years and, in that time, I have spoken in about five
debates on HS2. In each of them I have been consistent
in my support for the project. I have said at various
times that the project should go ahead not because of
what happens in other countries, but because there is a
business case: the economic and strategic benefits are
there and the cash flow exists. Moreover, we are doing
whatwe can to redress the failure of successive Governments
to invest adequately in infrastructure in the north of
England, as opposed to the south-east.
While I reiterate my support for the project as a
whole, I will talk about one aspect that affects Warrington,
colloquially known as the Wigan spur: 40 km of line
that, as far as I can understand, has no purpose and no
business benefit and represents an opportunity for the
HS2 project to save £1 billion without affecting the
benefits. I see that my hon. Friend the Member for
Altrincham and Sale West (Mr Brady) has joined us on
that point.
For clarity, Mr Hollobone, this debate was called for
jointly by the hon. Member for Warrington North
(Helen Jones) and me. Therefore, with your indulgence,
I will speak for 10 minutes, she will speak for 10 minutes
—the Minister, generously, has agreed that that works
for him.
The benefit-cost ratio of HS2 is something like 2.3:1,
which is driven by capacity constraints. Indeed, my
view—the Minister might be pleased to hear this—is
that that is a conservative estimate, because that is
based on demand growth increases of 2.2% between
now and 2036 and then no increase after that. If we
make any kind of assumptions about growth requirements
after 2036, the BCR will be massively greater—I think it
would be £4 of return for every £1 spent.
As we turn to the impact on Warrington, I have no
quarrel with the fact thatWarrington Bank Quay is not
a primary station on the line. Not every station can be
primary and Warrington is situated pretty close to
Manchester airport as well as to Manchester. When
talking about this project Lord Adonis has said that
“while everyonewants the stations, no-onewants the line.”—[Official
Report, House of Lords, 19 November 2013; Vol. 749, c. 909.]
and that is true. I am not here as a nimby and nor is the
hon. Member for Warrington North. If there was a
purpose in the line scything through our constituencies—her
constituency in particular—we could have a more balanced
61WH Aerospace Industry 2 SEPTEMBER 2014 62WH
[David Mowat]
discussion. However, try as I might, I cannot find the
benefit of that spur to Warrington or anywhere else in
the country.
Warrington Bank Quay is an important station. In
terms of the north-west, Warrington is not Leeds,
Manchester, Liverpool or Sheffield, but we are a sizeable
town and we punch above our weight in economic
clout. The Centre for Cities report placed Warrington
in the top four in the UK on a range of metrics and
economic impacts. We were third for employment and
fifth for the ratio of private sector to public sector
jobs—we have a very small public sector. There are
pockets of deprivation but, by and large, Warrington is
a prosperous place. It is important that that prosperity
continues and that HS2 contributes to that. I believe
that it will.
The 50,000 extra jobs predicted to be created in the
north-west will have an impact on Warrington. I have
read the regional business analysis that estimates some
£100 million of benefits a year for the town. My issue is
that none of that comes from the line being built north
of Manchester.
The line will be about 40 km long and a massive
engineering endeavour at a cost of about £1 billion. It
will cross the M62; the Manchester ship canal, with a
viaduct about 30 metres high; the M56 twice; the East
Lancs road; the Warrington Central line; and the Mersey.
A young engineer with an infinite budget and a computeraided
design system must have spent a great deal of
time designing it, because the challenges were tremendous.
What the line does not appear to have, however, is any
business benefit.
In terms of the effect on my constituency, admittedly
only 1,000 metres of the line will go through my patch
and, in the 200 or 300 metres either side of it, probably
only seven or eight buildings will be affected. That is not
to say that those affected are not badly affected—Gareth
and Steph Buckley, Malcolm and Margot Pritchard,
George and Clare Worth and Thomas and Maureen
Uttley are all massively blighted by this—but the hon.
Member for Warrington North will talk in more detail
about the impact on her constituency and constituents,
which is more significant.
What is that impact for? I thought that the line must
be the first bit of phase 3, to get to Scotland, but then
people said, “No, it has not been decided yet whether
phase 3 will go north along the west coast or the east
coast.” Indeed, it seems that there are arguments for
phase 3 going up the east coast, so it is not apparently a
precursor for phase 3.
What about the speed advantages? I have been advised
in written answers that the speed advantage of this line
means that the three trains an hour coming down from
Carlisle and Preston—and Glasgow, I guess—will get
to their destination 13 minutes faster as a consequence
of scything through Warrington. Again, that cannot be
rational, because we are now agreed that we have moved
away from a business case based on speed to one on
capacity, but capacity will not be increased.
What I accept the line does provide is a depot in a
place called Golborne in Wigan. For a long time I
thought that the people of Wigan were determined to
have that depot in Golborne and had lobbied very hard
to get this—what appears to me irrational—huge piece
of engineering, at a cost of £1 billion. I am informed,
though, that the right hon. Member for Leigh (Andy
Burnham), is adamant in his opposition to it, as are
many of his colleagues in that area, so that cannot be
the reason.
I hope that the Minister can shed some light on why
this is being done. To reiterate, I have read carefully the
economic case and the strategic case that show no
benefits pertaining to this line. The benefits all come
from productivity and the agglomeration benefits of
Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield all being
better connected to themselves and Birmingham and
the capital. The regional case does not provide anything
I accept that we need a depot somewhere, but I
cannot conceive that we need to spend £1 billion and
put so many people through so much hardship in order
to have a depot at this site in Wigan. I cannot conceive
that there is not another place to put the depot that
would not go through my constituency and those of my
hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham and Sale West
and the hon. Member for Warrington North in the
manner proposed. Unfortunately, when something such
as this happens on my patch, it brings into question the
value engineering, design clarity and other parts of the
project that I do not know about. It may well be that
the line was designed before Crewe station was upgraded
and that, therefore, the necessity for it has diminished.
I accept—I should have said this earlier—that the
final position on the route is still out for consultation
and the debate is timely for that reason. I accept that
the Government have not made a final decision on the
matter, which is why the hon. Member for Warrington
North and I—and other colleagues—are so keen for
this to be done.
Perhaps the Minister could respond by just confirming
that there is no decision that the line to Scotland will
necessarily go north out of Warrington when the time
comes for phase 3, which could, in any event, be in 50 or
60 years, and that is not the case that we are having to
spend £1 billion to situate a depot. Perhaps he could
also quantify the benefits, if he is able to, in terms of
revenue and other benefits that were mentioned to me
in a written answer, which implied that £1 billion worth
of benefits would accrue.
In summary, this is a good news debate, because I
believe that I have found a way of saving the Government
£1 billion. We will come in with an under-run on HS2
and we will all be heroes, and my colleague and I can go
back to Warrington happy.
4.10 pm
Helen Jones (Warrington North) (Lab): I am grateful
to the hon. Member for Warrington South (David
Mowat) and to the Minister for allowing me to participate
in this debate, not least because I applied for it and
somehow it ended up in his name—strange are the ways
of the Table Office. Nevertheless, we are both here
because although we may have political differences on a
number of issues, even perhaps on some aspects of
HS2, we are united in the belief that this initial proposed
route around Warrington is both bad for the town and,
increasingly, economically unjustifiable.
63WH High Speed 2 (Warrington) 2 SEPTEMBER 2014 High Speed 2 (Warrington) 64WH
In the time allowed to me, I cannot deal with every
issue, but this route will inflict huge disturbance and
environmental damage on my constituency. It is already
inflicting housing blight and it will, I believe, lead to
economic damage in the villages affected, rather than
prosperity. All of that arises from the perverse decision
to send the route to join the west coast main line north
of Warrington, rather than north of Crewe. I think the
case for that has to come under increasing scrutiny,
particularly in view of the damage it will inflict, and
I do not believe that the figures stack up. In that
respect, I am very grateful to my constituent, Mr Alan
Debenham, for the detailed work he has done on the
figures, and to the Culcheth and District Rail Action
Group and the Rixton-with-Glazebrook HS2 Action
Group for the information that they have supplied to
The spur, as we call it, is estimated to cost about
£1 billion. Originally, in 2013, HS2 Ltd said that it
would cost £800 million, as opposed to the £750 million
cost of joining the west coast line north of Crewe. In
fact, even those figures need to be scrutinised carefully,
because that is a cost of £22.9 million per kilometre.
That is only 28.6% of the average cost of the line
elsewhere, despite the fact that a viaduct has to be built
over the ship canal, as well as a new link at Lymm and
bridges over the motorways. It is hardly believable.
Mr Debenham has estimated that even if we take out
the cost of building new stations on the line elsewhere
and tunnels, it still only comes out at 40% of the average
cost of building the rest of the line. I urge the Minister
to scrutinise those figures very carefully indeed.
Attempts to get more details on the economic cost of
the line have failed, but it is very clear from parliamentary
answers to me that none of the case takes into account
the economic cost to the villages around Warrington.
For some, that is quite severe. The line will go through
the Taylor business park, which is actually in the parish
of Croft but just outside Culcheth, with a loss of
500 jobs. There will be a consequent loss of jobs among
businesses in Culcheth that depend on trade from the
business park, and even more jobs will be lost, because
three of the main routes out of the village—the routes
that lead into Warrington—are going to have to be
closed during construction.
We saw recently what happened when only one route
was closed: businesses lost an awful lot of trade and
some closed during and after the closure of the road.
The Minister has to understand that businesses in Culcheth
not only serve the village, but attract a lot of people
from outside to do their shopping or to come and eat
there. My two favourite eateries, the Raj and the China
Rose, for instance, attract people from outside the village
as well as a clientele from within it. The Black Swan in
Hollins Green, which is an excellent pub, if the Minister
is ever passing, brings people into the village because of
events that it puts on, such as farmers’ markets. The
estimate for the loss of business rates from the business
park is more than £635,000 per annum. The economic
loss to Culcheth, including lost salaries and wages, is
estimated at £10.2 million per annum. None of those
are included in the costings for the line.
The environmental impact is also very serious. Rixton with-
Glazebrook will see a big viaduct and raised
embankments going through the villages, cutting one
half of the parish off from the other. The village of
Hollins Green, which is an ancient village, will be
dominated by the viaduct, and the network of footpaths
around Hollins Green will be destroyed. They, too,
bring people in from outside the village. I well remember
opening—if you can open them, Mr Hollobone—the
boards that first set up the maps for those. The Culcheth
linear park will be destroyed. Ironically, in the consultation,
it is down as a “dismantled railway” line—well, it used
to be, but it is not now. It is a park with plant and tree
conservation programmes, access for the disabled, and
routes for walkers and riders. Those facilities cannot be
replicated elsewhere in the village, and there is no attempt
to calculate the cost to public health and the consequent
cost to the public purse from getting rid of these facilities.
It is ironic that at a time that we are all being encouraged
to walk more, ways of doing that around the area will
be destroyed.
I also urge the Minister to look carefully at the idea
of building a big viaduct in an area of high winds. The
Thelwall viaduct on the M6 frequently has speed limits
on it and sometimes has to be closed because of the
high winds in the area. No one seems to have taken
account of that in the engineering.
Most serious of all is the blight on property that is
now affecting the villages. Parliamentary answers that I
have received said blithely that there would be 21 properties
demolished, only four of which would be residential,
and three would be at risk of demolition. In fact, the
situation is much worse than that. In Rixton-with-
Glazebrook, 505 properties will be within 500 metres of
the line. If the Minister knows anyone who wants to
buy a house in a village with a great big viaduct going
through it, I am sure that people will be delighted to
hear from him. In Culcheth, the total is 947 properties.
Many of those do not qualify for the exceptional hardship
scheme. They are not owned by wealthy people, but by
people who have struggled and sacrificed to buy their
own home, and who now see buyers walking away. We
also see stories of people being refused mortgages because
of the uncertainty about the route. In total, if we look
at the Price waterhouse Coopers report on the property
bond and the loss of values, it is estimated that even a
10% drop in property prices in Culcheth wipes £23 million
off the value of property in the area, and that is at
today’s prices.
As one gentleman said to me, there might be a point
if we were gaining elsewhere—it happened to be someone
who lived very close to the proposed line—but we are
not. This spur, as the hon. Member for Warrington
South has shown, does not actually seem to benefit
anyone. In fact, building the line in that way disadvantages
the whole of the west of the region, because it takes the
HS2 line away from it, and I think Liverpool is already
making its case about that. I admire Manchester’s lobbying
skills, but the region is not all about Manchester. We
need to ensure that other places benefit as well.
The Minister and his colleagues have a chance to put
this right, because the Higgins report proposes a transport
hub at Crewe, and part of the reason for not joining the
line north of Crewe was the work that would have to be
done to Crewe station. If it is being done anyway, he has
a real chance to look again at these proposals to ensure
that we get the line joining the west coast main line
north of Crewe and that that line is upgraded, so that
then we can connect to Liverpool, Warrington and
many of the other towns and cities around the route as
65WH High Speed 2 (Warrington) 2 SEPTEMBER 2014 High Speed 2 (Warrington) 66WH
[Helen Jones]
well. If he does that, he will not only be avoiding a loss
of habitat, environmental destruction and economic
problems in my constituency, but providing a better
service to the region as awhole and saving theGovernment
probably £1 billion and, as I have said to my colleagues,
any future Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer £1 billion
as well, so I hope that he does the right thing and gets it
right for Warrington.
4.20 pm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport
(Mr Robert Goodwill): I congratulate the hon. Member
for Warrington North (Helen Jones) on applying for
this debate andmy hon.Friend theMemberforWarrington
South (David Mowat) on speaking first in it. For
Warrington, there is no north-south divide as far as
HS2 is concerned, but HS2 itself does address the very
big issue of the north-south divide as far as our country
is concerned. There is very good cross-party agreement
on that point, but I will not rehearse the arguments, as
they have already been well rehearsed on the Floor of
the House and in Committee.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has
announced details of the route for phase 2 of HS2, to
Leeds and Manchester, and with intermediate stations
at Manchester airport, the east midlands and Sheffield.
We have consulted on that route and received more than
10,000 responses, including one from my hon. Friend,
all of which are being carefully analysed. Let me be
clear. No decisions have yet been taken on the route or
station options. The Secretary of State has committed
to respond to the phase 2 consultation by the end of the
year, and that remains his intention. He will make an
announcement in the autumn.
My hon. Friend has expressed concerns, as has the
hon. Lady, that Warrington will lose out from HS2. I
understand and share his view that we should continue
to develop our understanding of the local economic
impacts of HS2. Although we do not have a full estimate
of the economic benefits of the section of the high-speed
line that is limited to theWarrington area, I can tell him
that under our current plans, Warrington will, under
phase 1, be served by high-speed trains running on the
dedicated HS2 line to Handsacre and then on the classic
rail network toWarrington Bank Quay from day one of
HS2 starting operations.
Helen Jones: The Minister has been very generous,
but may I point out to him thatWarrington already has
one train an hour both to Scotland and to London?
Under these proposals, it may not get that many services.
Mr Goodwill: Certainly the intention is to have
comparable or better services following HS2, but given
that we are in the middle of the consultation, things
may well start to gel a little more before the end of the
When phase 2 opens, it will be possible to travel more
quickly—by 30minutes—betweenLondonandWarrington;
and from 2036, three years after phase 2 opens, the
transport user benefits to the region of trips starting in
the north-west will be equivalent to roughly £342 million
every year. HS2 Ltd’s analysis of the mainline connection
at Golborne suggests that it could provide benefits in
the order of £1.2 billion and revenue of about £600 million.
Also, HS2 will free up space for additional commuter,
regional and freight services on our main north-south
lines, including the west coast main line. Passengers and
businesses in Warrington will be well placed to take
advantage of those benefits.
I know that my hon. Friend is concerned about the
impact on local and regional services from Warrington
and of the potential loss of direct services to London.
Under the train service specification thatwe have published
forHS2, there will be one train an hour between London
andWarrington. The TSS is not a train service proposal
as such, but has merely been adopted for demand-modelling
purposes as part of the economic case for HS2.
The train service pattern across the rail network that
will operate from the launch of high-speed services in
2026 will be developed iteratively over the next decade
and beyond, in consultation with key stakeholders. It is
too early to make detailed commitments about how the
rail network will operate when HS2 services start, but
one of the key aims for future service patterns is that all
towns or cities that currently have a direct service to
London will retain broadly comparable or better services
once HS2 is completed.
Regarding the loss of Taylor business park and the
damaging economic impact of HS2, I note what my
hon. Friend and the hon. Lady have said about the
potential effect on that business park. We are mindful
of the impacts that HS2 could have on businesses, and
HS2 Ltd will work with local stakeholders to ensure
that unwanted impacts are kept to a minimum, including
through potential route refinements where required.We
have received many representations about the impact of
our proposals on the Taylor business park and are
considering them carefully alongside other consultation
Our consultation is a genuine attempt to learn more
about the proposed route’s likely impacts and benefits,
and there is potential for it to change as a result of the
consultation. Indeed, this afternoon’s debate is an important
part of the dialogue that is taking place between Ministers
and HS2 on one side and local representatives and
residents on the other. I hope that we can bridge that
divide. My goal is to have everyone on the same side if
From the point at which a confirmed route was
announced, we began a detailed assessment of its impact
and we will seek to mitigate the most adverse impacts,
including visual intrusion and noise, through our design
work. In doing so, we will keep local community
representatives informed of our plans and seek their
input on how to achieve the best outcomes for local
people. It is worth remembering that in order to obtain
the powers needed to build the railway, via a further
hybrid Bill, we will need to demonstrate that we have
done all that we reasonably could to understand and
manage its impacts.
My hon. Friend mentioned Scotland. He is absolutely
right. No decisions have been taken yet on whether
there will be a high-speed link to Scotland. A bilateral
working group with the Scottish Government is working
to consider options for improving rail links to Scotland.
The results will be announced in due course. I think that
my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer
put his oar in as well, with a suggestion that HS3 might
be an east-west link connecting Yorkshire to Lancashire.
67WH High Speed 2 (Warrington) 2 SEPTEMBER 2014 High Speed 2 (Warrington) 68WH
I can understand why people might want to travel from
Lancashire to Yorkshire but possibly not in the opposite
David Mowat: Given that the decision has not been
taken, as the Minister has just confirmed, about how we
will get to Scotland eventually, will he accept that to
build £1 billion-worth of line north of Manchester on
the west coast risks it being obsolete if the decision is
taken to go up from the east coast?
Mr Goodwill: My hon. Friend makes a very valid
point indeed, and certainly that is one of the points that
we are taking into consideration.
In termsof the additional station at Crewe orWarrington
Bank Quay, the consultation exercise was designed to
bring in a range of ideas, and I welcome the responses
that we have received, including those from the hon.
Members who have spoken today. I can confirm that we
are carefully considering the response from my hon.
Friend the Member for Warrington South alongside
those from other consultees. He will be aware that
Sir David Higgins, the chairman of HS2 Ltd, has
recommended that to deliver benefits to the north more
quickly, we could accelerate the building of the line to
Crewe before the rest of phase 2 and build a new station
to receive HS2 services from 2027.We can see potential
benefits from doing that, but to allow us to consider it
fully, the Secretary of State has asked HS2 Ltd to
undertake more detailed work, so that we can consider
the suggestion very carefully, as part of the response that
he will make to the phase 2 consultation later this year.
In conclusion, we and HS2 Ltd are working hard to
implement a scheme that will not only bring the widest
possible benefits to the country, but help to bring all
those who would be affected together. HS2 Ltd has
been taking forward an extensive engagement programme
inWarrington involving local councillors, action groups
and other stakeholders in the area. That includes briefing
sessions for elected members atWarrington town hall. I
understand that my hon. Friend attended the last of
those sessions in June.Was the hon. Lady there as well?
Helen Jones: Yes.
Mr Goodwill: She was. That engagement will continue
as we develop our plans for HS2. The Government are
keen to get as many views as possible to ensure that the
phase 2 route of HS2 will be the best that it can be. We
want, as far as possible, to reduce the impacts on people
and the environment, so that not only will the towns
and cities in the midlands and the north get the connections
that they need to thrive, but HS2 will be taken forward
in such a way that it realises the full benefits of the
scheme for the country as a whole.

Railways: Birmingham
Michael Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for
Transport if he will initiate a study into adding a halt
on the Lichfield Trent Valley to Redditch cross-city line
at Curzon Street in Birmingham adjacent to the
proposed Birmingham High Speed 2 (HS2) station to
enhance connectivity with HS2 and with Birmingham
City University and Millennium Point; and if he will
make a statement. [206679]
Mr Goodwill: The Secretary of State for Transport,
my right hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire Dales
(Mr McLoughlin), is seeking powers through the Hybrid
Bill to construct the HS2 scheme as set out in that Bill.
This does not include a new station adjacent to Curzon
Street as proposed. There are a range of potential
infrastructure schemes, such as new stations, which
could further increase connections for the travelling
public above and beyond the scheme set out in the Bill.
The Department is not evaluating the case for such
proposals and will therefore not undertake a study on a
new station to serve Curzon Street. The Department
will continue to work with local authorities who are
taking the lead in identifying and evaluating options for
wider connectivity that will extend the benefits offered
by HS2.