|At the media launch of Transport for Leigh at |
Leigh Sports Village 28th March 2013
I made good on my pledge to keep local residents updated on my discussions with the Government about HS2 when I hosted a public meeting at Lowton Social Club on Thursday, 25th April.
The meeting - attended by around 200 local people - heard a presentation from Ged Tyrell of Transport for Leigh who are campaigning to bring a rail station to the area. They are developing a costed and detailed plan to deliver this goal and hope to build support for it from across the North West.
Transport for Leigh believe the proposed HS2 route provides an excellent opportunity for the Leigh area to re-gain a station. It would link with the existing Liverpool-Manchester line to create a new interchange off the East Lancs. They believe this can be done at the earliest opportunity with the integration with HS2 at a later stage.
One suggestion put forward by residents which has already been adopted by Transport for Leigh is the inclusion of a relief road linking the proposed new station with Winwick Lane, diverting traffic away from the congested Lane Head area. I have also promised to build in other ideas raised at the meeting, including the protection of green space in the area around the proposed station.
Whilst HS2 will bring disruption, Mr Tyrrell believes it presents a ‘once in a lifetime’ to obtain a rail presence for the area rather than just having a HS2 rail line running through bringing all the disruption but with no advantage to the local community and business.
I informed residents of my meeting with the Transport Minister, Simon Burns MP and reported to the them that the Government has an 'open mind' about the idea of rail interchange station at Lowton and is prepared to consider a detailed proposal from campaigners.
Government officials have already accepted that the scheme proposed by Transport for Leigh is technically feasible and are open to looking at the deliverability of the project.
I don't think we'll ever get a better opportunity than this to re-connect our area to the rail network. The Government has given us a green light to prepare our case and I urge people to get behind Transport for Leigh and present a united front. People will have concerns - and we will do our best to respond to them - but we will be failing our children, grand-children and future generations if we don't grab this with both hands."
I will be facilitating meetings with neighbouring local authorities and the Passenger Transport bodies serving Gt Manchester and Merseyside with the aim of building a broad-based campaign in support of the plans.
Ged Tyrrell said, “This represents a once in a lifetime chance for the reinstatement of a rail link. Something will not only provide opportunity for the local community, but the wider area, for us, and, more importantly, future generations to come.”
Neil Alistair Prescott from Transport for Leigh added, “Clearly the published route for HS2 raises strong opinions, both for and against. We can’t speak for HS2, we are representing the region from a local perspective, we can, however, influence the plan so that it works for our advantage.”
Further details of the Transport for Leigh proposal can be found on the website where there is access to an online survey and a Government e-petition.