Shropshire Star

Government pledges HS2 funding for Shrewsbury's relief road and Oswestry-Gobowen rail line

A number of major county transport projects are to receive money from the scrapped extension to HS2, according to the Government.

Last updated
How the North West Relief Road could look

Following Rishi Sunak's speech to the Tory Party conference in Manchester, where he confirmed speculation over the decision to axe the northern leg of HS2, the Government has published a list of projects to benefit from the move.

In Shropshire, both Shrewsbury's North West Relief Road and the bid to reopen the Oswestry to Gobowen rail line are listed as those to receive a slice of the HS2 money.

The announcement says the rail line would include a stop at Park Hall.

The announcement does not include details of how much each project will receive, but the relief road money comes as part of "£250 million for smaller road schemes".

Other announcements which include a slice of funding for the county are "£230 million for more bus services" in the West Midlands.

The statement says the money could be used to increase the frequency of bus services in the Midlands, which "could be spent on new bus stops around Telford and park and ride upgrades elsewhere in Shropshire".

A further pledge is for the county to receive a slice of a "£2.2 billion fund to transform local transport," which could pay for "smaller, more demand-driven buses".

A statement from the Department of Transport said: "Today we have announced the launch of Network North, a new approach to transport in this country.

"As a result of the decision to scrap the extension of HS2, every region will now receive investment in the modes of transport that matter to you most."

Addressing the Tory Party conference, Mr Sunak said the HS2 project's costs had "more than doubled".

He added: "I say to those who backed the project in the first place, the facts have changed.

"And the right thing to do when the facts change is to have the courage to change direction."

As part of a drive to create a new northern network, he pledged to invest in a raft of other transport schemes.

"I am ending this long-running saga. I am cancelling the rest of the HS2 project and in its place, we will reinvest every single penny, £36 billion, in hundreds of new transport projects in the North and the Midlands, across the country.

"This means £36 billion of investment in the projects that will make a real difference across our nation."

North Shropshire Lib Dem MP, Helen Morgan, who has been campaigning for the re-opening of the Oswestry to Gobowen line, which was closed in the Beeching Cuts, said it was "fantastic" news.

In a social media video she said: "We have just heard the brilliant news that the train line from Gobowen to Oswestry is going to be funded to be re-opened, which is fantastic for everyone in Oswestry who want to access the main line.

"It is also going to have a stop at Park Hall so we will get everyone there connected back into that route as well.

"That is amazing news and congratulations to the team who pulled that bid together and worked so hard to bring it to fruition.

"I am really proud to have supported them and helped them lobby to bring this great new train line to Oswestry and Gobowen."

Maria Machancoses CEO of Midlands Connect also hailed the news saying: “This is great news for residents and commuters in Shropshire and Midlands Connect wants to pay tribute to the local council, Chamber of Commerce and all those who created, backed and supported the bid. I know as a Shropshire resident how much this will mean to people.

“Bringing a rail line back into use is a long winded process and we are delighted for all involved in the project today.”

Ludlow Lib Dem Councillor, Andy Boddington, said he welcomed the announcements from the Prime Minister – but also wanted more information.

He said: "There is some welcome news in Rishi Sunak’s announcements. There are questions too.

"The continuation of the £2 fare cap for single bus journeys until the end of 2024 is great news. We need to encourage people to use buses and leave their cars at home. It would have been even better if Mr Sunak had confirmed that the fare cap was permanent and only periodically increased to take account of rising costs.

“It looks like there is a commitment to Rural Connect, Shropshire Council’s plans for a demand responsive minibus service serving rural villages and hamlets. The council has lost out on government funding twice for this. Rural Connect will help end rural isolation, allowing people to travel to work, shops and medical centres as well as to see friends. But it must be funded with a long term commitment and sufficient money to establish the service and keep it running.

“There will be funding for improving park and rides in Shropshire. The Ludlow site is probably the worst park and ride owned by any council in the country. It is desperately in need of repair and upgrading. All the money should not be swallowed up by the Shrewsbury park and ride sites.

“We need to see much more detail on these proposals, especially about how they will affect Ludlow and the south of the county.”