DfT unmoved by latest Liverpool HS2 bid

The Department for Transport appears to have dismissed calls by Liverpool city region leaders to be allowed to self-fund a link into the High Speed 2 rail network.

The think tank ResPublica and mayor Joe Anderson yesterday published a report saying it would, if permitted by government, use tax increment financing to pay for the extra 20 miles of high speed track needed to directly plug Liverpool into the new line.

In response, a Department for Transport spokesperson said: “HS2 is a transformative transport investment that will benefit passengers across the North West, with high speed trains serving Liverpool from the day the Phase One route opens in 2026. This, together with our ambitious plans to transform east-west rail links through Northern Powerhouse Rail, will help deliver a rail revolution for Liverpool and the North.”

The DfT added that the train time from London to Liverpool is currently 2hrs 14mins. HS2 Phase One, London to Birmingham, opening in 2026, will deliver a 1hr 46mins journey time. When Phase 2a is completed in 2027 journey times fall to 92 minutes.

A spokesman for ResPublica responded today: “’Whilst the journey times from London to Liverpool will be reduced by virtue of the shortening of the journey between London and Birmingham, this does not provide Liverpool with either the connectivity or capacity it needs to fulfill its economic potential and become a catalyst for both regional and national economic growth.

“Without a dedicated high speed connection, the benefits of the huge Liverpool 2 port investment will not be realised, and the city will become a second or third tier economic player.

“ResPublica’s detailed report outlines an economically viable method for connecting Liverpool into the emerging high speed network delivering further reductions in journey times to London, and creating the first stage in the vitally important East West HS3 link. This is a piece of infrastructure that is integral to the realization of the Northern Powerhouse vision.”

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Well there you go, just what we all know.
Time to declare UDI and wash our hands of them.

By Man on bicycle

So Liverpool, which mortgaged itself to the hilt in the 18th century (No government bail out there) to build the first built docks in the world,has now offered to do the same in the 21st century to make sure we are connected to the rest of the UK, by rail in preparation for the new super container ships whose cargoes will carry goods for and too the other cities in the UK, and make them more cost effective,(Why should we bother now)has apparently been knocked back by this government, so Liverpool one of the pioneers in free enterprise, has been excluded from the process in favour of other areas(subsidised by the government, using money collected in taxes from Liverpool also).What can we assume, but Free enterprise is dead and Liverpool is suffering because of political decisions by the British Government.

By Man on bicycle

I have an idea. Why don’t they just stop the line at Crewe and both Liverpool and Manchester connect on to existing lines? That way a saving of circa £3 billion is realised. Both still benefit from reduced journey times as DfT confirm Liverpool will be with the current proposals. Surely that’s the most sensible idea or is that just a ridiculous suggestion that hinders the Government’s love in with Manchester? That is by no way a dig at Manchester, more one at a Government that find it perfectly acceptable to use tax payer money to treat one city in a special way over others?


The reason, CMW, is that passenger flows are orders of magnitude greater from Manchester than they are from Liverpool and the link would also release enormous amounts of capacity on a highly congested part of the network realising even greater benefits that ripple beyond Manchester to other cities on the trans pennine route. Put simply, the balance of costs and benefits make it worthwhile.

It’s much easier to argue that Liverpool is favoured by government in that it will have a direct link to HS2 whereas many similar sized, similar or better performing cities, with similar potential do not. Sheffield, Cardiff, Bristol and Glasgow amongst them.

By Reality check

Just a quick response to the second comment. The sort of trade through which Liverpool made much of its fortune was a form of mercantilism. This was not free enterprise, in fact in many respects it was quite the opposite.

Incidentally, free trade reforms were actually promoted not in Liverpool but in Manchester

By Reality check

Reality Check – if you think any HS rail link is solely about carrying people you are mistaken – this is largely about freight and the existing network capacity – Liverpool is anticipated to carry significantly more rail freight from its port around the UK than any other City you mention.

By Virgin

Let’s have a bit if support from Place North West for the link to Liverpool.

By Gwydion

You miss my point. Traffic flows are heavier in the current time although I do question by how much. Being a regular patron on all 3 Virgin routes through the north west the figures are overplayed despite the higher frequency from my experience My point is that this is investment in infrastructure using government resources. Therefore as DfT point out Liverpool will still get a massively improved service, therefore so will Manchester by stopping at Crewe. Why the need to carry on at one but not the other? It is state intervention to promote Mamchester at Liverpool’s expense. I live in neither city for the record and nor am I originally from this region but it does become boring when Liverpool’s potential is constantly being undermined by government policy in favour of Manchester. It is happening every week.


Thanks for seeing it CMW. It is massively frustrating. As you can see above in terms of comments from likes of Man on Bicycle, it leads to desperate reactions.

And in fairness I think it is difficult to consider what can be done, it can’t be that far off the truth. Liverpool seems trapped in, what increasingly feels to some of us, an abusive relationship where only what is the very opposite of our city’s economic well-being seems of remote interest. Even when we say “we’ll pay!” It can’t be allowed to carry on like this, and I can fully understand why so many in Scotland want independence.

By Mike

Words fail me. Liverpool stepped up to the plate and gets given the knock back.

Meanwhile Sheffield and Nottingham can’t even agree where HS2 would go.

It doesn’t add up.

By Disgruntled

I don’t think anyone is against Liverpool getting the best possible deal and having the best possible infrastructure including a captive link if it so desires.

What does not stack up is the assertion that decisions that are made are deliberately biased against the city or in favour of another city.

The cost benefit calculations used to underpin infrastructure investment are the same for everyone. Liverpool cannot claim bias if similar or better performing cities such as Glasgow or Bristol have less provision than they do! I think the city would get further if left behind notions of bias behind and adopted a more grown up, rational and analytical stance rather than an emotive one.

By Reality check

“Free enterprise an economic system in which private business operates in competition and largely free of State control”..

Wikipedia as a source of authority..your’e having a Giraffe.

Hi Mike, not desperate, but thought provoking, some of us have been advocating this for a long time, man the barricades, brick up the tunnels..only joking!

By Man on bicycle

We have left it behind, we are willing to pay a great deal towards it ourselves.
That would counter certain peoples arguments about infrastructure costs etc.
Also the posters coming on here supporting the idea, are doing so because they believe in it and want it, the posters telling us it is not worthwhile etc, could make one think why are they bothered. this seems to happen on every forum where something of benefit for Liverpool is attacked or old sterotypes of the City or it’s inhabitants are dusted down and reused.
Makes one think if the rumours are true about a concerted marketing campaign is being waged against us.
Anyway this forum won’t resolve the situation, only political pressure.

By Man on bicycle

I think the real issue here is that the government does not want to be bounced into building proper high speed rail for the new so-called “HS3” trans pennine route. More likely, any new alignment will be a traditional inter-city line running at 125mph rather than a 250mph high speed line.

By Reality check

Liverpool bashing is a national sport.It does get tiring.Manchester will get priority because of the airport,but come on Liverpool is not a village in the Cotswolds.

By Elephant

Agreed Elephant. As for “Reality Check”, well he’s had a few goes at trying to tell the world why it shouldn’t happen now hasn’t he?

The last one about government not wanting to build a high speed line for HS3 is made up tosh. All HS2 branches, including the one into Manchester are 225kph maximum, 140 mph, rather than the main line speed of 360kph. The Liverpool branch would be 225kph capable, and thus fully multi-purpose as a “normal” HS3 branch line.

His earlier comment also traps him. The cost benefit calculations carried out by Liverpool according to the same methodology as HS2 show that building a line to Liverpool is well worth it. Hence the offer to stump up a massive two thirds of the cost.

Why people in Liverpool should have to put up with this nonsense is beyond me.

By Mike

The problem Liverpool has, is everything it does to improve its self, seems to be upsetting people from other citie’s, especially people from manchester who are always spitting their dummies of of the pram , I think the decisions and what is best for the city should be left to the people that actually live there and govern it.
Liverpool is not some small town it’s a growing city and a biggest key player in the so called northern powerhouse , you can’t fit the largest ships in the world in Leeds Sheffield or Manchester City centre can you.

By James

Mike – you do realise that captive HS2 lines are a different gauge to the rest of the railway and so existing rolling stock will be incompatibe with the new lines, regardless of line speed restrictions, don’t you?

Your other point is just nonsense. No one is against Liverpool getting the best possible infrastructure, just the assertion that it has somehow been tested unfairly when quite clearly it has not.

If Liverpool wants to pay for infrastructure that falls outside the standard cost / benefit criteria, then just like Manchester with its airport HS2 station, it is perfectly entitled to do so.

By Reality check

The existing lines to Manchester are far from full. To justify high-speed rail they looked at existing passenger figures. They never looked at figures then decide they needed high-speed rail, they decided they needed high-speed rail so searched for ways to justify this waste of money. In their wisdom they had high-speed rail serve only three cities centre to centre.

Liverpool and Manchester had one train per hour each to London and both took about the same travel time. Then Manchester had THREE trains per hour and Liverpool still with one. Had Manchester overnight increased in size by three times? Had Manchester become overnight an economic miracle? The answer to both is NO.

Manchester’s seats per day to London were about 8,5000 and 5,000 were taken up. Seats available increased to over 20,000. Yet Manchester still only uses 5,000 of them. The only train that was and still is overcrowded is the 7 a.m. London to Manchester service. All the rest have well more seats than passengers. 1st class cars are generally empty.
Meanwhile Liverpool still has the one train per hour. Virgin Trains requested more trains to Liverpool because of overcrowding and were refused with “lack of capacity on the West Coast Main Line (WCML)” as an excuse. The WCML is currently running at 52%. Virgin applied for a train service to Blackpool and were similarly turned down again. There are too many empty Manchester trains on the WCML not passengers. It is NOT running short of capacity right now, well not by passengers. It may when the Port of Liverpool’s expansion is complete and more freight trains use it.
Many from Liverpool are told by inquiries to get the train to Crewe, have a quick change, and grab the train from Manchester to London. These figures do not show up in Liverpool’s usage.

Why was Manchester given far too many train services clogging up the WCML, when it was obvious these trains were running well below capacity and not needed? It can only be a ploy to push though HS2 and to ensure Manchester gets a HS2 station over Liverpool, which when assessing the future of the two cities Liverpool is more deserving with major docklands expansion projects.

By John

Mr Reality Check, Captive HS2 and compatible track is exactly the same gauge. The difference is in bridge clearances etc.

When the commercial city of Liverpool offers £2bn to be connected to HS2 and is turned down clearly displays political spite and favouritism to ex mill city Manchester.

Many cities have had HMG money poured in to their tram systems, while Liverpool is still waiting after 40 odd years to have the one third of its underground metro finished which was started and work abandoned. About 4.5 miles of tunnel and miles of trackbed lay there waiting track and stations.

By John

The Manchester – London train is far busier than Liverpool – London. I know this from experience.

By Track

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