A high speed rail link between Manchester and Liverpool must be brought forward more urgently, a local transport chief has told the government.
Merseytravel chief executive Frank Rogers called for the rapid connection to be established in time for the opening of High Speed 2 phase 2b in 2033.
Transport for the North is planning to submit an outline business case for Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) to ministers by the end of this year. The body has outlined a vision of new and upgraded lines connecting Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool and Hull.
Rogers said the Liverpool-to-Manchester leg should get underway first to ensure journey times from the Merseyside city to London were slashed as soon as possible.
“The DfT’s view is that we will build HS2, then NPR. That’s not acceptable,” Rogers told the Liverpool Echo.
”We want NPR building in the same timeframe as HS2. We see the first leg as being from Liverpool to Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly and we want to see the benefit of that as early as possible, such as when the HS2 line comes up from Birmingham it’s connecting to a line that’s already there.”
Merseytravel chairman Liam Robinson said the body wanted “a new line from Liverpool, from a station somewhere in the Lime Street area, going roughly parallel to the M62, and linking to the proposed HS2 network”. Much of the route coming into Liverpool would be in tunnels, he added. The link could slash journey times between the two cities from about 37 minutes to 21 minutes.
There have been pleas for many years to speed up the development of high speed infrastructure in the North of England.
In 2014, HS2 Ltd chairman David Higgins set out his plan to get rapid rail to the region six years earlier than planned with a hub station at Crewe.
And in 2016 the Institute for Public Policy Research urged ministers to bring forward work on High Speed 3 – as the project to link northern cities was then known – to close the north-south infrastructure spending split.
A Government spokesperson said: “The government is committed to developing Northern Powerhouse Rail - we have given Transport for the North £60M to develop proposals for the scheme, alongside £300M to ensure HS2 can accommodate future NPR services.
“Transport for the North are currently working to produce a business case for Northern Powerhouse Rail by the end of 2018. We will continue to work with them to make that proposal as strong as possible.
“We are spending over £13bn through to 2020 to transform transport across the North - the biggest investment any government in history has ever made.”
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