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Councillors will fight to retain train services

Councillors say they will put up a fight to retain train services to Stafford if HS2 is given the go-ahead.


Stafford Borough Council leader Mike Heenan has vowed to lobby the Government amid fears a proposed link with the West Coast Mainline could be scrapped.

It comes after a report by the Chairman of HS2 Ltd, Sir David Higgins, raised the prospect that the link between HS2 Phase One onto the West Coast Main Line at Handsacre, near Lichfield, may be abandoned to save money.

Under current plans high speed trains will come off at Lichfield and pass through Stafford on existing lines when the first phase is complete.

But once the second phase is finished the majority of high speed trains will not use the link to Stafford with only an hourly service between the county town and London joining up with the HS2 line at Lichfield.

If the link is axed it means Stafford will lose its planned high speed service but will save 2.6 miles of Staffordshire countryside between Lichfield and Handsacre.

Mr Heenan said while the council is not convinced there is a business case for the HS2, it wants to make sure the Handsacre link is retained if the project is given the go-ahead.

He said: "If the link is not retained services to Stafford could become less frequent and Stafford will be cut off from the HS2 development which would be completely unfair.

"If trains do stop at Handsacre then that is fine because we will have a service to London but if they are dropped then travellers will have to get on somewhere else which would have a huge impact on services.

"At the minute I think we have an excellent service to London and I use it a few times every month and it only takes around an hour and fifteen minutes to get there.

"It is a tremendous service and it would be a tragedy if we lost it because of the HS2 coming in so we will be writing to the government to inform them of this."

The issue was discussed at a meeting of the Stafford Borough Council's cabinet. Councillors agreed to petition the Government for the link to be kept in the plans.

Council bosses have drafted a statement to be sent to HS2 Ltd, Network Rail, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin and local MPs.

It comes after Staffordshire County Council has already agreed to spend around £200,000 fighting HS2.

So far, 1,925 petitions have been received by the House of Commons with campaigners saying it will take at least two years for MPs on the HS2 Select Committee to examine the detail alone before Parliament has to vote on the project again.

Phase one of HS2 from London to the Midlands will go through the city of Lichfield and surrounding villages. Phase two goes through Stafford and surrounding villages, including the Marston and Ingestre. In total, 27 wildlife sites in Staffordshire will be directly affected as part of the rail plans.

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