Business and council leaders have welcomed final approval from Government of the HS2 route which confirms Wigan as the North West’s gateway to high speed rail.
The decision to approve the phase 2 HS2 route was announced by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and was hailed by business leaders as a major inward investment opportunity for the borough.
Wigan will be the gateway to high speed rail with the west coast mainline joining 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.
Being a HS2 station will support the regeneration of the town centre particularly around the town’s stations and the Wigan Pier Quarter.
Councillor David Molyneux, Wigan Council’s deputy leader, said: “Today’s announcement by the government is another significant milestone for the borough.
“Wigan is one of the best, if not the best, strategically placed boroughs 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 operation of the new rail line as well as for local businesses to be involved in the supply chain.
“I welcome the government’s pledge today to get the new line built as quickly as possible. Avoiding any further delays will support the economies of Wigan, Greater Manchester and the whole of the North.”
It is estimated the HS2 extension will be completed by 2033. Martin Ainscough, a leading Wigan-based businessman and chairman of the Ainscough Group said: “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: “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.
For more on business in Wigan Borough visit Wigan Works.