This is an important factor for Wigan, for my borough and for the people who live in my borough. It is important that we get HS2 right so that we get the economic benefits for all the north-west. In any such connection, the council would seek to progress the items that have been identified for petitioning on the Golborne link, to mitigate the adverse impacts of the proposals on local communities, including the proposal for a green tunnel at Lowton.
The Golborne link would free up capacity on the west coast main line for residual passenger services and rail freight and maximise the time that services can travel at high speed between London, Birmingham and Scotland, minimising end-to-end journey times. The significance of that is set out in the January 2022 update to the HS2 Phase 2b business case, which is explicit about the role of the Golborne link in unlocking capacity and services to Scotland. As Gavin Newlands mentioned, this is important for Scotland, not just for Wigan.
The Golborne link also gives rise to the opportunity to connect to the Manchester spur and bring significantly improved journey times to Manchester airport and Manchester Piccadilly, avoiding the congested Castlefield corridor in central Manchester—from Wigan, the north-west and Scotland. Our services to Manchester Oxford Road are always under threat in Wigan. We have very poor transport links, and we will not even get a tram until 2040, so it is important that HS2 provides actual benefits for my borough.
At £3 billion, the Golborne spur is clearly cost-effective compared with the option of upgrading the west coast main line, and it could be delivered more quickly, with minimal disruption to passengers and freight on the existing rail network.