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
20 Miles More Challenge HM Gov & Transport for the North to Commit to Building Liverpool’s High-Speed Link In Parallel With HS2
20 Miles More has eagerly awaited the publication of the Government’s response to the consultation into Phase 2b of HS2. Now we’ve seen it, it’s clear that the route hasn’t changed substantially – at least not in a way favorable to the Liverpool City Region.
20 Miles More has consistently supported Phase 1 of HS2 – physical work on which should start next year. We believe that the enhanced speed and capacity provided will be beneficial to the main cities of the North, including Liverpool. We also welcome the decision to bring forward Phase 2a, which will extend HS2 as far as Crewe to the benefit of the whole North West.
It is Phase 2b that has always been the most contentious as it will extend the route directly into the city centres of Manchester and Leeds but provide no enhancements to the Liverpool service. This disparity in transport investment will result in uncompetitive journey times to our city region and, as our trains will be restricted to 200m long classic compatibles rather than 400m captives, much lower capacity.
We have evidence that this decision is already harming business investment decisions in our city region.
Fortunately, there is a solution. The potential to build a new 20 mile high-speed track from the HS2 main line to serve Liverpool as the first phase of a high-speed rail route linking Liverpool to Manchester Airport, central Manchester and beyond to Leeds and Sheffield was recognised in the 20 Miles More consultation response report. More recently, it has formed the basis of the Northern Powerhouse Rail proposal – a high capacity rail route linking the main cities of the North of England.
Consequently, we are very encouraged that the Government response to the HS2 consultation recognises the benefits of providing passive provision into the design of the route to allow the Liverpool spur to be constructed. This provision will ensure that a junction can be constructed with minimum disruption to the HS2 service. We consider that this is a significant victory for the Liverpool link campaign of which 20 Miles More forms a part.
We strongly believe that the construction of a link from Liverpool city center to the main HS2 route should form the first phase of the proposed route. It will be relatively cheap to construct and achieve the double whammy of a direct Liverpool spur to HS2 and a modern, fast link between the two cities that pioneered the railway age. It will allow the expensive Manchester spur tunnel to be more fully utilised and give Liverpool fast access to the medium and long haul flights from Manchester Airport. There will be the added benefit of freeing up capacity on the existing West Coast Main Line for new inter-city services and freight traffic serving the developing Liverpool2 SuperPort and Scotland.
As significant engineering work will be required on the approaches to Manchester and at Piccadilly Station, we believe that it makes sense for Phase 1 of Northern Powerhouse Rail and Phase 2b of HS2 to proceed at the same time.
We, therefore, present this challenge to national Government, the Liverpool City Region, Merseytravel, Transport for the North and HS2 – to construct the first phase of Northern Powerhouse Rail and Phase 2b of High-speed 2 concurrently so that both open on the same date in 2033.
We have 17 years in which to plan, consult, design and build these two projects. All that is necessary is the political will to see them through.
£15bn of benefit from just 20 miles more of high-speed track to Liverpool
HS2’s latest report Changing Britain: HS2 Taking Root is released today, 31st of October 2016. It previews how HS2 will serve those places not directly on the HS2 line, such as Liverpool. In tandem, research by Merseytravel, confirms findings made by 20 Miles More in their January 2014 submission to the HS2 Phase 2 consultation:
20 miles of new high-speed train track between Liverpool and Manchester, connecting to the planned HS2 network, has the potential to deliver:
1. £15 billion GVA boost to economic growth
2. 20,000 new jobs
3. 10,000 new homes
4. 2.9 million extra visitors per year
5. 150 million less HGV freight miles a year
6. 21 minute Liverpool-Manchester journey time
7. 16 minute Liverpool-Manchester Airport journey time
8. 1 hour 14 minute Liverpool-London journey time
Liverpool needs a link comparable to other core cities
On 30th November, the Government announced that HS2 would be extended to Crewe six years earlier than originally intended. The initial plan was for HS2 to open in two stages: Phase 1, London – Birmingham to be completed by 2026 and Phase 2, Birmingham – Manchester/Leeds (the ‘Y’) by 2033.
The revised plan is for the first section of Phase 2, from Birmingham to Crewe, (Phase 2A), to open one year after Phase 1 in 2027. The remainder of the Y to Manchester and Leeds (Phase 2B) will open in 2033 as previously planned.
On the opening of Phase 1 in 2026, an HS2 passenger service will be introduced between London and Birmingham using dedicated ‘captive’ trains.
‘Classic compatible’ services (HS2 trains capable of travelling on the conventional rail network) will be introduced between London and the North West and Scotland. These trains will travel at the HS2 linespeed of 360km/hr (230mph) as far as Lichfield, north of Birmingham, where they will switch to the classic West Coast Main Line (WCML) and proceed at conventional speeds to Crewe, Liverpool, Manchester and on to Scotland. This will mean a major reduction in journey times to all cities on the network.
Phase 2A, opening one year later in 2027, will extend the high speed line from Lichfield as far as a new junction with the WCML south of Crewe – a distance of 58 kilometres (36 miles). The effect of this new section of high speed line will be another major reduction in journey time to the North West and Scotland.
The current proposal is for Crewe to be served by classic compatible units that will travel on to Liverpool and Warrington. However, the proposed ‘Crewe Hub’ will introduce a new station on the HS2 line interchanging with a relocated Crewe station – possibly at Basford Hall, south of the town. A decision on this proposal has yet to be made but is expected shortly.
Phase 2B, opening in 2033, will extend the HS2 line north east from Crewe to Manchester via Manchester Airport and construct the ‘eastern arm’ to Leeds via Sheffield and Toton. At this stage, both Manchester and Leeds will be served by dedicated HS2 ‘captive’ trains. Liverpool and destinations further north will continue to be served by classic compatible units.
What this means for Liverpool
Phase 1 will have a major impact on journey times from Liverpool to London. The present average of 134 minutes will be slashed to 106 minutes. Phase 2A will reduce journey time further – to 92 minutes. This can only be a good thing for the city and city region and so the decision to bring forward HS2 to Crewe is to be welcomed.
Phase 2B, by contrast, will offer no journey time improvements to Liverpool but, by introducing dedicated high speed captive services to Manchester and Leeds, will markedly reduce London journey times from both cities. So, Liverpool will find that its main commercial rival, Manchester will be 25 minutes closer to the capital despite enjoying near parity today. Both Manchester and Leeds will also enjoy new high speed services to Birmingham that the lack of a direct link will deny Liverpool.
As classic compatible trains will be only 200m long, as opposed to the 400m maximum length of captive trains, there will not be a major increase in passenger capacity on the London route. In fact, should Merseytravel’s aspiration of two hourly 260m long Pendolino trains to London be realised, capacity will actually be reduced on the introduction of HS2!
Far from increasing the rail connectivity of Liverpool, the routing of the proposed Phase 2B western arm will not relieve currently congested stretches of track such as between Crewe and Weaver Junction and on the approaches to Lime Street. This will hinder the development of new passenger services from Liverpool and rail freight access to the new Liverpool Superport.
The Northern Powerhouse initiative, which seeks to improve connectivity between the major cities of the North has recognised that a new high speed link from Liverpool to Manchester will be important in improving future travel between the two cities as existing lines will not deliver this aspiration.
Such a route, by incorporating sections of the proposed HS2 Manchester branch will be achievable at low cost and with minimal environmental intrusion.
We at 20 Miles More believe that the only solution is the construction of a dedicated high speed link from Liverpool to HS2. This link will not only give Liverpool a link to London comparable to that enjoyed by other core cities but will also form the first stage of a new trans-North Northern Powerhouse rail link. In so doing, it will ensure that HS2 achieves the government’s intention of rebalancing the economy of the country.