Transport for the North Backs 20 Miles More Concept
In 2014 20 Miles More showed why it made great business sense to connect the Liverpool City Region to High Speed 2, the UK’s high-speed rail spine. With just “20 Miles more” high-speed track, not only would London and Birmingham be connected to Liverpool, but the first stage of a west to east high-speed rail line linking the cities of the North would also be built.
Yesterday it emerged that Transport for the North, the official body for northern transport, is backing the 20 Miles More concept.
In 1830 Liverpool invented intercity rail, heralding the modern age. We call upon the Government to rebuild that spirit of enterprise in the North in 2030’s with 20 Miles More.
Liverpool’s Steaming Ahead
Virgin Trains recently announced record numbers of passengers travelling between London and Liverpool, with 1.77 million journeys in 2016-17 proving HS2’s projections wildly off the mark. HS2’s plans didn’t expect Liverpool to reach this target for another ten years, meaning Liverpool’s services won’t be able to take the strain.
In its 20th year of operating the West Coast Mainline, Virgin released passenger figures showing an unprecedented 11.2% annual growth for trips between the capital and Liverpool. This is spectacular growth, especially considering Liverpool has been allocated just one train per hour from London, the lowest frequency of any Core City. Manchester needed three trains per hour before it achieved what Liverpool has managed with one.
When 20 Miles More investigated HS2 passenger projections, we found that HS2 expected Liverpool to have the lowest growth of any major city. Yet when we looked at the actual passenger growth figures we found the opposite, Liverpool was growing faster than all comparators, with ten times the growth of Leeds between 2008 and 2010. 20 Miles More submitted this evidence to the Department for Transport in January 2014 in our formal consultation response as evidence that HS2 had fundamentally underestimated Liverpool and the service it required.
Plotting the trend of Liverpool’s actual growth against HS2 estimates the shortfall of expectations is stark. By 2037 the trend forecasts 3.8m passengers, but HS2 have planned for just 2.2m, that’s just over half of what could be expected.
Even with HS2’s low growth estimates, HS2 still expect Liverpool’s trains to be the most crowded on the network. Virgin’s latest announcement adds further evidence that the Department for Transport needs to work with HS2 and Transport for the North to re-plan how to serve Liverpool. This leaves no doubt that a dedicated high-speed rail link to HS2 is needed so more trains, with shorter journey times, greater reliability and more seats can serve the basic needs of Liverpool and other Core Cities. This would link not just London to Liverpool but also Birmingham’s and Manchester’s city centres and airports.
Andrew Morris, Chair of 20 Miles More
Campaigning to give Liverpool a dedicated high-speed rail link to HS2, Northern Powerhouse Rail & beyond
Brexit means high-speed rail to Liverpool and the North is now a political and economic imperative
The Brexit vote sent a shockwave through the political establishment and as the dust settles, its message for HS2, “HS3” and the Northern Powerhouse is emerging. Now is the time to invest in a transport network that uses HS2 to irrigate the regions, not drain them, says Andrew Morris, Chair of 20 Miles More.
In the thirty years since the Big Bang deregulation of financial markets, “the City” has become the de facto centre of international financial markets. Successive governments have become increasingly mesmerised by its charms, to the exclusion of the rest of the nation. London generates great wealth, producing as much tax revenues as the next 37 largest UK cities together each year . That wealth is highly concentrated in London and has created a dangerously imbalanced economy. It is difficult to find another major country that is so economically imbalanced. Canada, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Japan, and Spain have multiple wealth-creating cities. Whilst in the UK only 6 companies in the FTSE 100 are based north of Birmingham, down from 10 in 1984.
Currently, London is the not just the economic centre of the UK, it is also the legislative, judicial, media, cultural and transport hub – despite being tucked way in the south-eastern corner of a long, narrow island. The blinkered focus on London has led to a mindset that everything of any importance is there, and the corollary that if it’s not in London it’s unimportant.
The North of England has suffered in particular over the last 30 years. It has been strip-mined for assets by the City. High-value industries have been subsumed into London or sold off to the highest bidder. The North’s world-leading industrial companies were just an opportunity to realise their breakup value. Patents and products bases were sold off by corporate raiders to foreign rivals as the companies were starved of finance.
Transport investment is an area of inequality that stands out. More money will be spent on one London project, Crossrail, than all of the transport projects in the North of England put together. This investment chasm urgently needs to be bridged and high-speed rail is one policy that should be amended to achieve this.
HS2’s major deficiency is its London-centricity. There is only one hub on HS2: London. The three other cities on HS2 are branches off the main line. It is a hierarchical design from a bygone era, not an interconnected network for the information age. Sir David Higgins was quick to recognise this when coming onboard HS2 Limited . How high-speed rail should serve the North needs to be redressed. “HS3” must go beyond a command-and-control solution connecting just two points in the North to London. High-speed rail needs to mesh together the great cities of the North and to connect them with the Birmingham and London, and onward to Edinburgh and Glasgow. It is imperative that a route map is planned, leaving no doubt about all future destinations for potential investors, business planning and city development.
20 Miles More proposed a solution to solve this problem in January 2014 . By adding just 20 miles more of high-speed track, the largest city not on HS2, Liverpool, can be linked. This route would run west to east from Liverpool to Manchester connecting to the HS2 route. Not only would this boost the business case for HS2 by £8bn, it would form the first phase of an “HS3” network extending from Liverpool and Manchester to Bradford, Leeds, Hull spanning the North.
The Brexit vote has been a rude awakening for the political establishment. The public has voiced their anger with the status quo. The shock result wasn’t just about the settlement between the UK and the EU but also the settlement between metropolitan London and the rest of the country. The Government needs to address this sense of alienation with policies that will rebalance an unstable economy and build the nation’s wealth across the Nation. High-speed rail can benefit the North, but HS2 needs to be adapted to do so. With the Chancellor’s autumn statement approaching we have reached a key turning point, will HS2 irrigate the North or drain it?
- 10 years of tax, Centre for Cities, July 2016
- Lure of the south too strong for northern businesses, Financial Times, 15 March 2015
- Transport Secretary urged to close £1,600 per person London-North spending gap, IPPR, 8 August 2016
- HS2 Plus: A Report by David Higgins, Department for Transport, 17 March 2014
- 20 Miles More: A Counterproposal for Liverpool and HS2, January 2014
Labour and Co-operative MP
for Liverpool Wavertree
I recently pressed the deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg about why Liverpool is not represented on his Northern Futures initiative which is supposed to bring together ideas to ‘create a vibrant Northern hub so it can compete with the biggest cities around the world.’
His offer of a government email address as an alternative to the real representation and involvement this city needs underlined for me why it is so important that Liverpool’s voice is heard directly in the coming months and years as the debate about how to bring jobs and economic success to the North heats up.
I support a direct high speed rail link to Liverpool because of the important economic benefits it will bring to the city and the inter-connectedness that it will bring to the Northern economy as a whole.
I share Mayor Joe Anderson’s view that the extra freight capacity is needed to make the most of the port developments that are coming in the years ahead.
Joe rightly points out that almost half of the world’s trade moved through the Port of Liverpool in the 19th century but that getting freight to and from the Liverpool City Region is just as important.
The Liverpool 2 container berth that is due to open late next year will be able to handle 90 per cent of the world’s container ships and opens the possibility of Liverpool being at the centre of a new era of sea trade. But without a HS2 link, the opportunity will be limited.
Five great cities – Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle – have come together to make the most powerful case yet for 21st century connections that allow people to do business together more easily.
We need connectivity – both East-West and through HS2. Investment in a trans-Pennine connection will lead to renewed confidence and growth across the North of England.
Liverpool is the only major city in the North and Midlands not directly connected to HS2 and with talk now starting about a HS3 linking Manchester and Leeds, it is vital that Liverpool’s voice is heard.
North West Business Leadership Team
The Chancellor, George Osborne, recently spelled out the case for a `Northern Powerhouse’ to compete internationally in the way that London does.
In terms of rebalancing the UK economy towards the North, it makes sense for the great cities of the North – particularly Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds – to combine their formidable assets and enable them to punch their weight in an increasingly globalised market.
The right conditions need to be created to convince people to stay, work and live, and keep their talent in the region.
It is essential, therefore, that these cities are better connected. This means ensuring that Liverpool is on the proposed HS2 line from London, and the starting point for a future West/East HS3. Liverpool and Manchester epitomise the synergies that exist in the North West – they have complementary strengths, so literally the sum is greater than the parts.
Liverpool and Manchester’s links go back to 1830 and the creation of world’s first intercity railway. Today, over 2 million passengers every year commute between these two cities, despite an average time of over an hour for a journey of just 31 miles. The goal should be for a fast, frequent service taking 20 minutes or less.
The Chancellor frequently referenced Liverpool in his `Northern Powerhouse’ speech and the reasons are self-evident. High quality graduates from our universities, an internationally recognised life sciences cluster and a port which is being readied to handle the next generation of container carriers, are just some of our assets.
Better, faster connections across the North will allow us all to work better together and thus compete more effectively in global markets.