Town hall bosses have welcomed the Government’s approval of the HS2 extension route to Wigan.
The decision to approve the route announced by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling today, Tuesday, has confirmed Wigan as the North West’s gateway to high speed rail and was hailed by business leaders as “the best news to hit Wigan in a long time”.
They have said the plan will bring major inward investment and employment opportunities to the borough.
The plan has confirmed that the west coast mainline will join the high speed network just to the south of Wigan and connecting to Crewe, Birmingham then London Euston.
Once completed Wigan will connect to Birmingham in just 35 minutes, London in one hour 23 minutes, and will mean more than 8,000 extra seats for commuters per day.
Martin Ainscough, a leading Wigan-based businessman and chairman of the Ainscough Group said: “This is the best news to hit Wigan in a long time. Both from a business and tourism perspective this improved connectivity cannot be overstated.
“The ability to be in our capital city in just over one hour is amazing.
“I think most people still underestimate Wigan’s fantastic geographical location in the heart of the heavily industrialised North West.”
The positive impact HS2 will have on the regeneration of the town centre has also been recognised by the private sector.
John Sanson, general manager of Wigan’s Grand Arcade Shopping Centre, said: “It is great news that Wigan town centre is part of the high speed rail extension, bringing London less than an hour and a half away and linking us with other towns and cities in the region and throughout the country.
“I am sure a number of Wigan based businesses will see this as a great opportunity and links directly in to the town centre regeneration masterplan making the town a better place to live, work, visit and invest.”
Wigan Borough is home to 320,000 residents, has 12,000 businesses and has growth plans to create tens of thousands of new jobs over the coming decades.
Councillor David Molyneux, Wigan Council’s deputy leader, said: “Today’s announcement by the government is a significant milestone for the borough.
“Wigan is one of the best, if not the best, strategically placed borough in the North West for business and HS2 will help us deliver widespread economic benefits for our residents in the years and decades ahead.
“Having Wigan North Western as the gateway to HS2 will mean Wigan town centre receives an instant boost as a place to attract investment and as a desirable location for businesses to locate to.
“We will be able to transport people quickly to the cities in the south and welcome business quickly to Wigan.
“We will use HS2 as a catalyst for the regeneration of our town centre including plans for greater connection between our two town centre stations.
“There will also be great job opportunities for our residents in the various stages of design, delivery and operatrion of the new rail line as well as for local businesses to be involved in the supply chain.
Councillor Molyneux urged the government to make the investment and start building as soon as possible.
He said: “The time for debate is now over and it is now time for action. We want this to be delivered as soon as possible for the benefit of Wigan and the whole of the North West.
“We also want to see the trans-Pennine HS3 route to become a reality so that our east-west connections are as good as our north-south connections. That will help make the north of England a true powerhouse.”
It is estimated the HS2 extension will be completed by 2032.
For more on business in Wigan Borough visit: www.wiganworks.com