Prime Minister says there is ‘strong case to be made’ for Liverpool’s inclusion in High Speed rail network
David Cameron vows to look carefully at campaigners’ arguments for link to be brought to city
David Cameron today said there was a “strong case to be made” for the high speed rail network to be brought to Liverpool – and vowed to look carefully at the arguments made for its inclusion.
Fears have been raised that if, as is currently set to be the case, Liverpool misses out on the proposed High Speed 2 (HS2) network, those benefits will be lost to other cities, with investors turning to the likes of Manchester or Leeds which are on the route.
Mr Cameron said: “Obviously there’s a strong case to be made and it’s quite right for the Liverpool Echo, local MPs, city leaders and others to make that case.”
Liverpool is set for a new era of sea trade with the opening of Peel Port’s £350m Liverpool 2 container berth late next year, which can handle 90% of the world’s container ships.
The city is positioning itself as ‘the port for the north’, but those plans could be jeopardised if Liverpool is not part of the HS2 network, according to campaigners.
Cllr Phil Davies, chair of the Liverpool City Region Combined Local Authorities said the scheme only works if there’s a connection between the Liverpool 2 berth and the rest of the north.
But Mr Cameron said: “There’s no doubt that the government is giving real priority to Liverpool with the electrification of the existing line taking place, the expansion of the ports so the Panamax containers can come in to Liverpool, obviously the trans-pennine line that’s being electrified, that will help the connectivity of all the major cities in the north west.
“So there’s no question of Liverpool missing out, it’s how best to capture the benefits from the big investment that’s coming in.”
CITIES PLEA FOR INCLUSION IN OSBORNE’S HS3 PLAN
Local leaders are clamouring for connection to a high-speed rail link between Manchester and Leeds, after chancellor George Osborne announced plans yesterday.
Mr Osborne told an audience in Manchester that he was only ‘starting the conversation’ about the High Speed 3 (HS3) project, admitting that plans for the high speed rail connection have not yet been set in concrete.
While emphasising that he only wanted the UK to ‘start thinking about’ the project, the chancellor said his proposed route should feed in to David Higgins’ review of the second phase of HS2.
Cities across the north of England seized on Osborne’s proposals, immediately putting pressure on the Government to widen the scope and include more cities in any HS3 line.
Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson – whose work on City Deals was name-checked in Osborne’s speech – said the early phases of any link ‘must’ be established in his city.
‘I welcome Mr Osborne’s comments but we will be pressing home our conviction that the first phase of this East / West link can be and must be from Liverpool,’ Mr Anderson said.
‘It is an affordable piece of investment that will guarantee a massive financial return as well as beginning the vitally important task of connecting our great Northern cities.’
Business campaign group 20 Miles More said Osborne’s plan ‘strengthened’ the ‘compelling’ argument for a direct HS2 connection to Liverpool. Their calls followed a commitment from the Liverpool City Region to continue lobbying for inclusion on the London to Birmingham route.
Further pressure on the Government came from Stoke-on-Trent City Council, which said its city remained the ‘only missing piece in the jigsaw’ for Osborne’s HS3 plan.
‘The Government has already invested heavily in our Powerhouse Central City Deal. It makes sense to plug the city into the High Speed Rail network to maximise the value of that investment,’ council leader Mohammed Pervez said.
‘An east-west HS3 link would cement into place this super-regional concept. The Stoke Route would maximise the economic output of the new national powerhouse by including the largest urban area between Birmingham and Manchester.’
Pervez confirmed he would be writing to the chancellor to reiterate the region’s plans for an HS2 station.
City Talk Interview
Frank Mckenna is joined by Philip Blonde, Stuart Fitzgerald, Chris Arnold and Clive Drinkwater to talk about HS3 & asks if Liverpool has missed out?
HS3 MUST GO ALL THE WAY TO LIVERPOOL SAYS IOD DIRECTOR
The Institute of Directors has welcomed the Chancellor’s proposal for a high-speed rail link between Manchester and Leeds – but warned it has to extend to Liverpool to fully realise the idea of a northern ‘economic powerhouse’.
Simon Walker, director general of the IoD, said 80 per cent said improving inter-city rail links should be a priority, so the Chancellor’s vision was welcome.
He added: “Infrastructure projects are a means to an end and targeted projects such as this are the vital foundations of genuine and sustainable economic activity.
“Our northern cities have suffered from poor train links for far too long, and we believe this scheme has the potential to bring long-lasting benefits to the country as a whole. It makes sense to extend the high-speed service to Liverpool.
“Any fast line would also need to be complemented by smaller road and rail schemes, building on the work already begun on the Northern Hub. IoD members expect London to be the main winner from HS2, so investment in connectivity is needed to allow great cities like Manchester and Leeds to compete with the South East.”
HS2 LIVERPOOL LINK ‘WOULD BE START OF HS3’
Chancellor George Osborne this week mooted the idea of a rapid rail line between Manchester and Leeds, the two cities at the end of the current proposed route for HS2.
Andrew Morris, chair of campaign group 20 Miles More, said extending HS2 to Merseyside would create a more impressive HS3 in due course.
“Mr Osborne’s comments are an endorsement of the case we have been making over the last six months about the logic of an east-west connection,” said Morris.
“This strengthens an already compelling argument for a direct HS2 connection to Liverpool. Not only is the Liverpool link vital to the economic success of HS2 itself but it will create the first stage for a potential HS3.”