At first sight, Liverpool and its region does not fare too badly from High Speed 2 (HS2). Journey times to London will be reduced by 28 minutes and there will be a doubling of frequency. But we at 20 More Miles are not happy.
HS2 Ltd itself has provided the answer. Its September 2013 report, produced by consultant KPMG, states that Liverpool could lose up to £50M per annum as a direct result of HS2 – an extraordinary outturn for a project hailed as “rebalancing the economy”.
The problem arises from the failure of HS2 to provide any infrastructure north of Crewe. The remaining 62km into Liverpool will be at speeds lower than the current Pendolinos along capacity constrained double track sections of the West Coast Main Line (WCML).
Consequently, the city will experience longer journey times compared to rival centres and no freed up capacity on the classic lines. This lack of capacity will impair the development of connectivity with other towns and cities – an important element in a competitive economy.
It gets worse. The future Liverpool Superport is predicted to produce a fourfold increase in rail freight. With no new capacity, it will have to share the congested WCML with HS2 “classic-compatible” trains.
20 Miles More believes that Liverpool, a growing city that is the centre of a region of 2M people, and has the highest increase in gross value added outside London, deserves better. We also believe that improved links to the city and port will benefit the North West region and the whole nation.
We fully concur with the ICE consultation response that the case for a Liverpool captive link must be revisited. We have studied this issue and identified ways that this might be achieved with, at most, 20 miles (36km) more rail route. We have calculated that the benefit:cost ratio of such a link would be greater than that of the project in general.
The Railway Age started in Liverpool. Let us make sure that the city plays its part in the coming high speed railway age.
- Martin Sloman is a director at 20 Miles More
20 Miles More is an independent campaign group set up with the aim of improving the current High Speed2 proposals for serving the Liverpool City Region.