A NEW high-speed rail link could reach Wigan three years earlier than originally planned if the project’s new chief gets his way.
Sir David Higgins, who has been made chairman of High Speed Two (HS2), said the new super-fast train network should reach the borough by 2030 instead of 2033 in a report published yesterday.
Sir David, who has been put in charge of the £50bn infrastructure project after helping deliver the Olympic Games in London, said the timetable for the new line should be accelerated.
The new report says the line should reach Crewe by 2027 with a new northern hub constructed there, before the line connecting HS2 to the West Coast Mainline at Bamfurlong is finished by 2030.
Sir David said: “HS2 is vital for the future of the country. The cost and impact have to be recognised and acknowledged, but so too do the cost and impact of doing nothing.
“Without HS2, the people of this country will continue to face the failures of our transport system on a daily basis.
“If we do it right, it can be a catalyst for fundamental change at both a local and national level, up and down the country. It is ambitious because it needs to be, to meet the demands not just of the here and now, but of the future.”
Legislation covering the route from London to Birmingham is currently being drawn up, but Sir David criticised the amount of time discussions in Parliament were taking.
He also said there would be no cutting back on the measures, including compensation for homeowners, planned to mitigate the effects of the train network on those living nearby.
Wigan Council leader Lord Peter Smith welcomed the report.
Lord Smith said: “Last October, I said that I wanted to see HS2 built and running as quickly as possible because I firmly believe it will bring significant benefits to Wigan borough.
“Therefore, today’s news that HS2 chairman Sir David Higgins plans to speed up construction by six years really is fantastic. I have every confidence in Sir David.”