Sir David Higgins’ recent report proposes that the North West arm of the HS2 link from Birmingham should be progressed first, with a major Hub at Crewe being the centre piece. As we have previously posted, whilst this is welcomed by Manchester and Liverpool, it is a proposal which is coming in for some criticism from the Leeds/ Sheffield axis in Yorkshire.
There is some agitation within the North West too, in the form of a well organised and growing campaign to persuade government to extend the North West link by a mere 20 miles into the heart of Liverpool.
BUILT caught up with Andrew Morris, Director of the “20 Miles More” campaign.
BUILT: So tell us what is behind “20 Miles More”?
Andrew Morris: 20 Miles More is the campaign for a dedicated HS2 link for Liverpool. HS2 Limited propose no dedicated infrastructure for the Liverpool City Region, unlike Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield city regions. This means that no new rail capacity is available for the Liverpool to grow it’s economy and there will be no new station development which could be the focus of transformational regeneration projects. We want to see that change radically.
BUILT: Manchester will be a focal point for HS2 in the North West. What would a link direct into Liverpool achieve?
Andrew Morris: HS2 releases no capacity on the West Coast Main Line north of Crewe. The section of track between Crewe and Weaver Junction is the busiest two tracks of intercity railway in Europe, and it the main artery of North-South rail freight. It could be relived by HS2 but isn’t, because all Liverpool and Warrington HS2 trains will need to share these tracks with freight and stopping passenger services. The £1.8bn Liverpool SuperPort logistics developments will increase rail freight from the city region four-fold by the time HS2 opens. Liverpool’s Lime Street station is also at capacity due to the 1840’s approaches being unfit for purpose. An HS2 link would enable Merseyrail commuter services to be extended over the east of the Liverpool city region by taking all long distance trains off these tracks. Liverpool city centre already has more rail passenger that Manchester or Leeds.
BUILT: And what would be the economic benefits, as you see them?
Andrew Morris: A dedicated HS2 link for Liverpool would be worth around £8bn over 20 years, yet the cost is as little as £1.5bn. Not getting a link is estimated by KPMG as costing the city region up to £2bn over that same period. In the context of the £50.1bn HS2 project a Liverpool link is a small but essential adjustment. After all it’s just 20 Miles More out of a 330 mile network.
You can find out more about the 20 Miles More Campaign at http://www.20milesmore.com and you can show your suport by following them on Twitter @20MilesMore.
Here is a link to some FAQs which give more insight into the overwhelming case for 20 more miles on HS2:
Keep an eye on BUILT for more on this campaign: we would be delighted to her from you with views, news and more to pass on to to the BUILT readership.