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Liverpool leaders call for high-speed rail link

Business and university chiefs in Liverpool have written an open letter to the leaders of the three main political parties urging them to commit to a high-speed rail link for the city.

Currently neither HS2 nor the emerging Transport for the North vision of an east-west ‘HS3’ make any commitment to delivering a high-speed rail line into Liverpool.

The letter, addressed to David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg, makes the point that Liverpool is the largest UK city not serviced by HS2 and argues that what is at stake is “whether Liverpool remains a major economic centre or becomes an increasingly peripheral branch-line destination”.

It says: “High-speed connectivity matters to Liverpool because without it we simply lack the rail capacity to realise the potential of the enormous investment in our port expansion.

“It matters because better connected city regions will inevitably become more attractive investment destinations, and it matters because it is the fastest and most obvious way to kick-start the exciting vision for a Northern Powerhouse.

“By radically improving connectivity between the two Northern cities (Liverpool and Manchester) with the closest geographic and economic links, we are at last creating an urban centre with the assets and potential to counter-balance London and the south east.”

The letter has been co-ordinated by the independent, business-led 20 Miles More campaign and is signed by leading companies in the freight, professional service, life science, tourism, retail and creative industries sectors along with universities and major business organisations.

20 Miles More chair Andrew Morris said: “These are the businesses and institutions that are forging our future economy. The range of signatures demonstrates the breadth of support for a direct high-speed link to the city and how vitally important this is to our future prosperity and success.

“Liverpool’s economy has always been based on connectivity and pioneering infrastructure. With the massive investment in the new Post-Panamax port facility we desperately need additional rail capacity and better connectivity in order to handle the projected massive growth in freight.”

Geoffrey Piper, chief executive from the North West Business Leadership Team, added: “We are strongly committed to the idea of a Northern Powerhouse, but we believe it’s logical for this vision to start here. A high-speed rail link from Liverpool to Manchester would not only connect us to HS2 but would be the first leg of a transformational HS3 east / west link as well. If we want the Northern Powerhouse to deliver quickly then we should start by connecting the cities with the strongest economic synergies and highest number of passenger journeys.”

The open letter comes ahead of the publication of a report by the think-tank ResPublica setting out the strategic case for a Liverpool High Speed link. The report, commissioned by Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson, is expected to include a “radical game-changing proposal” to underscore Liverpool’s HS2 case.

ResPublica director Phillip Blond said: “Our report provides a comprehensive review of the City Region economy and how it can best realise growth opportunities and potential. As a result we conclude that the case for a direct High Speed line into Liverpool is even more compelling and beneficial to the UK economy.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email


Geordie   17/04/2015 at 15:18

There is increasing evidence that HS2 can only be justified as far as Birmingham, and even then, the evidence is very flimsy. So Liverpool need not worry that it will be left out. HS3 or trans pennine faster services yes, HS2 no.

Lutz   18/04/2015 at 11:38

Just a 'me-too' strop; Liverpool will be served, if HS2 goes ahead, by services using HS2 from south of Crewe, and will thus directly benefit from it. Direct comparison with Manchester, Birmingham, and Leeds is not really relevant given that Liverpool would be the end of the line, while the others are really a mid-point for potential onward journeys. The best thing Liverpool City Council could do is to facilitate the return of the work-ethic to the city and move aware from over-reliance on LFC as it's principle marketing point.

Mikeb   20/04/2015 at 17:41

@Lutz. Whilst agreeing with the points raised in your first paragraph, I would say that Liverpool politicians and businessmen are determined not to be left behind the likes of Manchester and Leeds with regard to faster rail links to London. However this might be solved if HS3 is given the go-ahead, whereby a faster link on to HS2 might be possible, rather than the slow route via Crewe. Nowadays, Liverpool is a vibrant city with a growing leisure and tourist industry, together with many new businesses and an expanding port. Those who still think Liverpool is still only about LFC and the Beatles, have obviously never been to the city but rely upon sections of the London-based media for their views Finally, I do not recognise the view in the above picture. Is it just a library photograph of any city??

Will Mitchell   21/04/2015 at 21:32

We should scrap HS2 and HS3 altogether and build a proper high speed network instead:

Graham Nalty   22/04/2015 at 11:51

For HS2 to be successful, it has to be inclusive of all major cities, not just the four largest cities. And that includes Liverpool. But it is not only Liverpool to London that needs to be fitted into the high speed schedules, but also Liverpool to Birmingham and along the Liverpool, Stoke, Derby and Nottingham corridor with through trains not having to change at Derby and Crewe. And building a parkway station two miles outside Crewe is not a very good idea as it would not increase traffic.

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