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At present Liverpool is the only major city in the North and Midlands not directly connected to HS2 and it is estimated that a dedicated link would help increase the city region’s Gross Value Added by £8 billion over 20 years. Without a direct link the potential of HS2 would be jeopardized with rapidly increasing passenger and freight traffic having to share an already congested Victorian railway.

Phillip Blond backs a HS2 dedicated track into Liverpool

Phillip Blond backs a HS2 dedicated track into Liverpool

That’s according to ‘20 Miles More‘, a new campaign supported by

  • Phillip Blond, Director of think-tank ResPublica
  • Professor Tom Cannon, Professor of Strategic Development at the University of Liverpool Management School
  • Earl of Derby, President of Liverpool, Knowsley and Sefton Chambers of Commerce
  • Professor Sir Peter Hall, Professor of Planning and Regeneration at The Bartlett, University College London
  • Tom Morris, Founder of Home Bargains
  • Jim Teasdale, Chief Executive, Mersey Maritime Group
  • Dr Geoff Wainwright, Founder and Executive Director at 2Bio Ltd, a Merseybio Incubator Company
  • Guy Wallis, Co-founder of Liverpool-based leading UK law firm DWF; founder of Liverpool in London Business Embassy
  • Professor Ian Wray, Department of Geography and Planning and Heseltine Institute for Public Policy, University of Liverpool

who are aiming to get 30+ km of additional HS2 railway into Liverpool.

But aren’t Stoke-on-Trent, Wakefield, Coventry, Bradford and Kingston upon Hull all “major cities in the North and Midlands” too? Some of their citizens might well be offended by 20 Miles More’s claim that “Liverpool is the only major city in the North and Midlands not directly connected to HS2”. Of course, HS2 would not directly connect into Derby, Nottingham, or Sheffield either.

[20 Miles More]

The Port of Liverpool is a national strategic asset being the main port for two of our three largest trading partners (US & Ireland) and in linking Northern Ireland to the UK. It’s the only West Coast port with post-Panamax capacity and is thus vital to the UK’s aim to remain one of the world’s major trading nations.

Liverpool City Region has nationally important strengths in sectors like wealth management, life sciences, creative and digital and is home to leading manufacturing companies like Jaguar Land Rover, Vauxhall and Unilever. Improved business connectivity will help these sectors to grow and enable Liverpool to contribute even more to UK plc.

We estimate that an HS2 link would boost the GVA of Liverpool and the wider region by £400m every year – that’s worth £8 billion over 20 years. If the UK is to renew and rebalance its economy than it needs to harness the potential of cities like Liverpool, For 20 Miles More that potential can be unlocked through a direct link to HS2.
The financial cost of a 20 mile HS2 link to Liverpool is between £1.5 billion and £1.9 billion – about 4% of the £42.6 billion cost of the project. The economic cost of not taking this opportunity now – to the local, regional and national economy – is almost impossible to calculate. There are numerous inventive ways in which this finance could be raised and a Liverpool link funded.

We will investigate these as part the research that we will be carrying out to develop the case for 20 Miles More. We will continue to campaign and argue the case for a Liverpool link based on robust evidence and hard economic logic. We look forward to widening our support and building alliances with people across and beyond the City Region.

In the coalition’s HS2 phase 1, all London to Liverpool fast trains would run 125 km on the existing West Coast Main Line tracks beyond a HS2 junction near Armitage. In phase 2, another junction would be built on HS2’s Western leg just south of Crewe and one of the two Liverpool trains would use that link, continuing 63 km on the “19th century” tracks into Merseyside. The others would continue to use the slower route, via Armitage and Stafford. All Liverpool trains would be 200 metre classic compatibles, with less seating than current Pendolinos.

20 Miles More doesn’t seem to be a good fit with ‘Crewe Hub and Spoke’, or Stoke city council’s HS2 scheme. And it might be worth considering

  • the low demand for long distance rail travel from Liverpool to London or Birmingham
  • how much of a path shortage there is on the classic lines into Liverpool, and whether HS2 would be a cost-effective way of addressing it
  • if new build track for full size HS2 trains were built into Liverpool, there would also need to be a suitable station to take them; 20 Miles More have not provided any details of a proposed route, nor of any new station
  • what the effects would be of moving Liverpool intercity HS2 trains to a dedicated track on places like Runcorn and Stafford
  • to what extent the The Port of Liverpool should pay towards improved freight access
  • where in Britain the Port of Liverpool’s extra railfreight would actually be headed.
In 2008 the average Liverpool resident travelled by rail to London roughly once every five years

In 2008 the average Liverpool resident travelled by rail to London roughly once every five years


Written by beleben

January 31, 2014 at 5:07 pm

Posted in HS2, Liverpool, Politics

4 Responses

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  1. There are also some other large cities in the Midlands and North such as Milton Keynes, Leicester, Middlesborough, Sunderland and Newcastle which will not have a direct connection to HS2. So plenty of room for these and other places to come up with their own “xxx miles more” groups and show just how much it will cost to shave off a few minutes on a journey to London while enjoying the scenery (tunnel walls, cuttings and noise barriers) on the way. It’s a good job they are not all promoting HS2 design speed links to the other “HS2 citities” or to each other. But that would make the whole concept of HS2 look even more of a waste of money than it already is. Surely, no one could think of doing such a thing unless they want to hasten its demise? Could they? Roll up. Roll up!


    January 31, 2014 at 6:45 pm

  2. By the same token, the average Manchester resident only travels to London once every three years. Liverpool-London demand is roughly equal to that of Leeds-London and greater than that of Sheffield-London or Nottingham-London. By contrast, Liverpool-Birmingham demand (although modest) is far greater than that of any other provincial city except Manchester – in spite of which, under current plans, Liverpool will be the only core city not to enjoy an express service to the West Midlands. In fact, if HS2 has its way, it will take nearly 50% longer to get from Liverpool to Birmingham than it will from Manchester to London (a journey of more than double the distance). This would certainly be bonkers.

    matthew jones

    February 3, 2014 at 8:10 am

    • What the Beleben blog doesn’t understand, is why there isn’t a “Merseyside Future Rail Campaign”, to secure local and regional rail investments (Skelmersdale, the Halton curve, CLC electrification, better-designed trains, etc). The HS2 project has very little relevance to day-to-day travel for most Liverpudlians (or Mancunians).

      Demand for travel from Birmingham to / from Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester, and Liverpool is way too low to justify running virtually non-stop very high speed trains between them.


      February 3, 2014 at 11:39 am

  3. […] HS2 good for ‘the North’? At the launch of the ’20 Miles More’ campaign on 31 January 2014, ResPublica’s Phillip Blond […]

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