CAMPAIGNERS hope the arrival of HS2 in Crewe could finally bring the return of passenger trains to Middlewich and a new station for Gadbrook Park.

Phase 2a for the high-speed railway gained Royal Assent earlier this month – meaning it will travel between Birmingham and Crewe.

At Tuesday’s Middlewich Town Council meeting, Cllr Graham Orme suggested this could be a push in the right direction for the Mid Cheshire Rail Link campaign, which would see the reopening of a train station in Middlewich along the Sandbach to Northwich line.

He told councillors: “[HS2] will encourage feeder lines to come in – it’s no use just having one line that goes all the way through the country and does nothing else, there will be feeder lines.

Cllr Graham Orme

Cllr Graham Orme

“The benefit of that could be the potential to open Middlewich train station again because the line is still in use – although it is limited to goods vehicles because of its weight restriction.

“I think this is an idea that we push now. It’s gone to sleep for a while, the reopening of the train station.”

The campaign has been pushing for the reopening of Middlewich train station, along with a new stop at Gadbrook Park, and services could connect onwards to Crewe and Manchester.

Cllr Orme read out a statement from David Roberts, president of Mid Cheshire Rail Link, on the possible implications of HS2’s arrival in Cheshire for Middlewich.

He said: “This is very important for Crewe and for the whole of Cheshire, not least for the Mid Cheshire Rail project.

“Although we have always been at pains to stress it should work as a stand-alone project, it is of course a shoo-in as a feeder.”

Following the Mid Cheshire Rail Link’s lengthy campaign, Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership had been working on a business case for the railway.

Initial findings from consultants in 2019 suggested a new Middlewich railway station could serve 140,000 passengers a year.

Roy Newton, transport and investment director at the Cheshire and Warrington LEP, told the Guardian: “We are currently discussing the reopening of the Middlewich railway line with Cheshire East Council, Cheshire West and Chester Council and the Department for Transport, in relation to funding for further work to identify a cost-effective service pattern.”

However, while admitting it would be ‘lovely’ for Middlewich to get passenger trains, Cllr Carol Bulman said she was less concerned about that and more focused on getting freight off the road.

Cllr Carol Bulman, Labour

Cllr Carol Bulman, Labour

She said: “For me [HS2] is about getting lorries off our roads and cleaning the air up.

“I don’t want high-speed trains, that doesn’t bother me, we should have done it 30 years ago if we were going to do it for the speed factor.

“It’s a flawed project, but if we cancelled it now – it took years to put the money in place for this and that money would not come to us for other projects, it would just go. There would be no advantage in scrapping it.”

Phase 2b – the line which runs north of Crewe, through mid Cheshire and onto Manchester – is yet to be approved by Parliament.

Town councillors added that they would need to put pressure on to make sure environmental mitigations are put in place and traffic avoids Middlewich during construction of that phase in the years to come.