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Liverpool could be first to pay billions for link to HS2

24 February 2016/Categories: CILT, Industry News, Active Travel & Travel Planning, Rail, Transport Planning

A high speed rail link to HS2 for Liverpool is essential if the Chancellor’s decision to build a Northern Powerhouse is to succeed, according to a report from the independent think tank ResPublica. 

In Ticket to Ride: How high speed rail for Liverpool can realise the Northern Powerhouse, ResPublica says northern cities need a dedicated High Speed link to HS2 if they are to reach the level of economic success that the Chancellor wants. 

Report authors say Liverpool and other Northern cities will be left behind if HS2 doesn’t go beyond favoured cities and locations. 

The cost of extending HS2 to Liverpool would be less than £3 billion and for the first time in the UK up to two thirds of cost could be self-financed by City Region through the local retention of taxes. 

The Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said: “The need for Liverpool to be connected to both the other cities of the north and London is huge if we as a city are going to play our part in generating money, jobs and continued growth through the Northern Powerhouse. 

“Our funding plan would make up the bulk of the price with £2 billion coming from keeping hold of locally raised taxes, rather than sending them to the Treasury. Using this mechanism would allow both ourselves and the wider economy to move closer to prosperity.” 

ResPublica’s proposal would see a dedicated high speed rail line linking the Liverpool City Region into the HS2 route to the north of Crewe, and connecting it to Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly on high speed track. This link in turn will also be the westernmost branch of the planned east-west “HS3” or “TransNorth” route running from Liverpool to Hull and reconnecting the great cities of the north. 

While the current plans for HS2 would create a new stream of wealth, cities like Liverpool, Newcastle, and Hull face being left behind. The fragile Northern recovery, which cities like Liverpool have worked hard for, would be much harder to achieve, putting them back decades economically. 

Director of ResPublica, Phillip Blond, said: “High speed rail offers a real chance to make the Northern Powerhouse work but it has to connect the cities of the north with each other, as well as London. 

“If we don’t extend the North South HS2 into an East West HS3 – the real benefits and gains from high speed rail will be lost. 

“Both HS2 and HS3 could start in Liverpool and with the city able to find most of the funds there is no reason for the government to ignore this detailed and transformative proposal.” 

Mr Blond added: "Without a proper link between northern cities the chance to make them grow and prosper will be lost, leaving HS2 achieving only a small part of its potential. 

“Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Hull and the other great cities want to work together to succeed and they should be given the tools to do so. HS2 needs to be extended into HS3” 

Among the 12 key recommendations in the report are proposals to increase Liverpool’s growth and economic prosperity to help achieve the jobs increase that could self-fund the new line.

Report authors found that new thinking was needed if Britain’s new high speed rail network is to benefit the whole of the country.


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