North West Labour mayors outline ambitious new high-speed rail plan, connecting Manchester and Liverpool

'This is a nationally important infrastructure scheme that would help to unlock the North’s enormous potential and deliver a greater return to the Treasury.'

Plans for a new high-speed rail line between Manchester and Liverpool have been announced by the cities’ new combined railway organisation, the Liverpool-Manchester Railway Board.

The line will run between Manchester Piccadilly and Liverpool Lime Street, via revamped stations at Manchester Airport and Warrington Bank Quay.

In October 2023, Rishi Sunak announced that the northern legs of the high-speed rail line HS2 were to be scrapped. Political leaders in the north hit out at the decision, claiming the government was treating people in the region as “second-class citizens.”

Following the axing of the HS2 in the north, the government invited the mayors of Liverpool and Manchester to advise on the best solution to improve connectivity between the two citieies.

The mayors launched the new Liverpool-Manchester Railway Board to maximise the social and economic benefits of the new railway between the two northern cities.

The plans were announced at the UK’s Real Estate Investment and Infrastructure Forum in Leeds. Steve Rotheram, who was recently re-elected as mayor of Liverpool City Region, said the project will “advance a place-based, bottom-up approach to deliver world-class connectivity and turbocharge the economy of the North West.”

The new Board will be chaired by Rotheram, along with the Labour mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, who was also re-elected in the mayoral elections in May. Leaders of Manchester City Council, Councillor Bev Craig, and Liverpool City Council, Councillor Liam Robinson will serve as vice-chairs.

Steve Rotheram spoke of how the region has been “revolutionising Britain’s railways for centuries.”

“But sadly, regions across the north have been forced to contend with infrastructure that wouldn’t look out of place 100 years ago. It suffocates growth and holds the country’s economy back.

“Transformative investment in better rail connectivity between our two city regions is more than just a regional project. This is a nationally important infrastructure scheme that would help to unlock the North’s enormous potential and deliver a greater return to the Treasury,” said the Liverpool mayor.

Andy Burnham described the region’s rail network today as “not fit for purpose after decades of underinvestment.”

“The scale of economic opportunity right along the line is huge, with Investment Zones in both city-regions and several major development sites, but the North West can only reach its potential with better rail connectivity.

“We’ve been successful in making the case to the government for our preferred options – in Greater Manchester that means a new, underground station at Piccadilly. The new Board will help us accelerate these plans and capitalise on a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build the railway the North needs,” he added.

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