A MAJOR overhaul of England’s rail network will not include a project to re-open the Halton Curve, the Government has announced.
Justine Greening, transport secretary, revealed which schemes would share a £9.4bn pot of cash on Monday.
Halton MP Derek Twigg raised the matter in the Commons later that day, and asked the secretary of state whether the Halton Curve proposal would receive funding, and if not, whether the Government could reconsider the route.
Labour MP Twigg said the curve would be an important project for Cheshire and Merseyside.
Previous parliamentary debates had suggested that support was growing for the Halton Curve scheme, which would link North Wales with Liverpool via Runcorn and Widnes.
Alison McGovern, Labour MP for Wirral South, expressed support in the Commons, arguing that the line would boost commuter travel between her constituency and Liverpool and Manchester. Theresa Villiers, rail and aviation minister, said the scheme had ‘recognisable benefits’ but that funding must be identified.
Halton Borough Council has said the scheme could receive Government funding if Liverpool City Region submits a bid.
The Halton Curve has been closed to passenger services since the 1970s but still carries some industrial services and a summer Saturday train for North Wales holidaymakers and day trippers.
A Network Rail study concluded that the unused line would boost the economy by up to £1.90 for every £1 spent on the scheme.
The Government announced on Monday that the £9.4bn would fund upgrades in London and the electrification of lines between the capital and Cardiff, as well as between Liverpool, Manchester and Preston.
Mrs Greening (Conservative) told Mr Twigg: “That is more of a local scheme, but I will certainly undertake to look at it and see whether I can get back to the honorable gentleman with some more details.”
Mrs Greening said: “Investment on this scale shows how this Government is focused on delivering an affordable, reliable and faster railway network that drives jobs and growth.”
“These plans to increase capacity and shorten journey times are absolutely key to securing our country’s prosperity in the decades ahead.”