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Councillors believe rail line route will bypass Knutsford
BOROUGH councillors believe the route for a new high speed rail line will bypass Knutsford and other parts of Cheshire East when it is unveiled to the public later this week.
The first part of the HS2 line linking London and Birmingham is scheduled for completion in 2026, but now the focus has turned to the second section which will extend the line north west to Manchester and north east to Leeds via Sheffield.
An announcement regarding the second stage – which some people have feared could cut through George Osborne’s Tatton constituency – is expected on Thursday.
MP Fiona Bruce, whose constituency covers Cranage, Holmes Chapel and Goostrey, has gone on record in the past to voice her opposition to the plans for HS2.
But Clr Peter Raynes, finance portfolio member at Cheshire East Council and a Knutsford town councillor, told the Guardian this week his colleagues in the Cabinet believe the route will follow the existing West Coast mainline and M6 corridor.
“From the point of view of the council we want maximum benefit for Cheshire East and the Cheshire area,” he said.
“If it is going to happen we want the best use and to avoid any serious inconvenience and detrimental impact to any our towns.
“For the link that goes to Manchester Airport, which is the main one in terms of affecting greenbelt around our towns, we need to make sure that route uses the corridor around the M56 then we should be able to get it built without it being overwhelming negative to one or two towns and we would fight that tooth and nail.
“We are very clear what we want. We want a stop at Crewe and we want the line to use the M6 corridor so it doesn’t come too close to any of the towns in Cheshire.”
Speculation has arisen about the route heading under Tatton Park and on to Manchester Airport, but Clr Raynes said he didn’t believe this would happen.
“The Tatton Park route is really unlikely, and I know high speed rail needs to be straight but I would hope this is not the case,” he said.
“It’s very easy to take out a ruler and get a route, but there are many more things to consider.”