Leaders reject “cheap and nasty” rail plan

Political leaders from Liverpool City Region, Warrington, and Cheshire West & Chester have combined to condemn part of the Northern Powerhouse Rail proposal it says would “short-change” the region.

The Department for Transport’s “option 5.1 route” for the NPR section between Liverpool and Manchester would see the Fiddlers Ferry line, previously used to take coal trains to the power station, upgraded to become part of the NPR network.

The leaders want to see construction of a new Liverpool-Manchester line, via Warrington, as they believe that the upgrade option would only exacerbate existing capacity issues.

They say that Option 5.1 would put greater strain on the existing west coast mainline lines going into Liverpool Lime Street, compromising capacity for local services, hampering the ability to increase freight services to the Port of Liverpool, and not addressing Liverpool-Manchester journey times, which have previously been billed as having a target of 20 minutes.

In a letter sent to Secretary of State Grant Shapps ahead of yesterday’s Transport for the North meeting, the leaders outlined their concerns that 5.1 has “become a departmental fixation that could be imposed upon us as a fait accompli”.

The letter said that “it is very clear that much of the fication on Option 5.1 centres around cost”.

Reasons for rejecting the option were listed as that it:

  • Fails to deliver the promised reduction to journey times between Liverpool and Manchester.
  • Limits the potential for expanding rail freight capacity.
  • Fails to offer connectivity upgrades between Cheshire and North Wales.
  • Creates unnecessary disruption during its construction phase.
  • Lacks value for money based on an underestimation of its cost.

The letter was signed by Steve Rotheram, metro mayor of Liverpool City Region; Cllr Liam Robinson, LCR transport portfolio holder; Cllr Louise Gittins, leader of CWAC; Cllr Karen Shore, cabinet member for environment, highways & strategic transport at CWAC; Cllr Russ Bowden, leader of Warrington Borough Council; and Cllr Hans Mundry, Warrington’s cabinet member for transportation, highways and public realm.

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We need full connectivity to high-speed services south and east from the HS2 line south of Warrington. This must be a dedicated high-speed line that will run through Warrington and free up capacity on the existing lines to expand business opportunities, including freight, and allow Liverpool as the best located west coast city to flourish in the new Atlantic and Pacific orientated world of business.

By Red Squirrel

The North and Liverpool in particular will get the crumbs from London’s table. HS2 will come North and Link to Manchester and through to the airport. We can moan all we like but until there is greater devolvement of power the Status quo will continue.

By Realist

Treat us the same as London:

“Approximately £8.5 billion was spent on transport in London during 2015-16. This suggests that approximately 29.1 per cent of all transport spending in the UK was made in London. As can be seen from Figure 3, that was more than the North East, North
West and Yorkshire and the Humber combined.”


By Anonymous

Why no Liverpool Airport station? Did the London planners not know that Liverpool has an airport?

By James Yates

Rejecting this proposal on the basis they are only offered a slice of the cake rather than the whole of it. I have always believed something is better than nothing. It’s a start at least which the Liverpool City Region desperately needs. The LCR leaders need to start looking at the short term economic benefits which in time will lead to long term gains. Instead of building brick walls and barricading the region in from future private investment. Start building bridges of dialogue. Get what you can while you can and use it as a springboard to bring further investment, jobs and prosperity to the region.

By Stephen Hart

There’s definitely no advantage to Fiddler’s Ferry for high speed trains. If this was to be utilised at all, it would only be beneficial in a post new line world, where the released capacity could be used to provide enhanced local, not high speed, services.

No new line means no possibility of this happening.

As with the port road being thrown through Rimrose Valley, government investment is provided here only reluctantly and at bare minimum. The returns are non-existent as a result.

The barometer seems only to be whether they think they can get away with it, rather than what’s in the green book. Thank goodness our mayor is now unobstructed in dealing with this.

By Jeff

With the way HS2 is going (protracted) I would prefer the relatively more deliverable use of the existing and underused routes. Rail freight is a challenge but to wait possibly ages for an entirely new route is perhaps over optimistic.

By Anonymous

We need a NPR Rail plan which includes the cheshire towns of Macclesfield, knutsford, Northwich and Middlewich

We’ve got HS2 coming past Northwich. and what do we get out of it. Nothing! not even an Hs2 station
yet our population is nearing 80,000.

By Northwich

Crossrail cost £19 billion
Crossrail 2 estimated cost £41 billion.
Just saying…

By Bernard F

Good to see all these areas coming together with one voice. I think that is what they need to do in the future. As someone from Chester I think Cheshire West should join the Liverpool City Region, along with Warrington and West Lancs (which I think are affiliated but not full members). This larger region will have a much better chance of getting finance and infrastructure. There are lots of links already (Merseyrail, NHS Liverpool and Cheshire are linked etc.) so it will be more formalising the relationships and ensuring each partner benefits.

By Chris

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