There may not be a rail link in the works to LJLA, but a rapid bus network could be in operation by 2028. Credit: via LJLA

Liverpool City Region ‘committed’ to improving airport transport links

Support for a new rail line to Manchester Airport does not mean Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram has forgotten Liverpool John Lennon Airport – with a spokesperson for the combined authority stating that Rotheram’s proposed bus rapid transit service between the city centre and Liverpool John Lennon Airport could be up and running by 2028.

The spokesperson was responding to a Place North West request regarding Rotheram’s support for a new Liverpool-Manchester rail line that will include a stop at Manchester Airport. A rail board for the proposed £17bn line was announced at UKREiiF.

Place commenters wanted to know why Rotheram was working to improve links to another city’s airport, rather than his own.

Here is the response we received from the combined authority, in full, to those queries:

“The new Liverpool-Manchester Railway Board has been established to maximise the economic and social benefits of a new railway between the two largest and most productive city regions in the North West.

“The focus is to deliver transformational investment, with new and upgraded city centre stations in Liverpool and Manchester as well as a new, high-speed rail line running via Warrington and Manchester Airport.

“Liverpool John Lennon Airport is one of the country’s fastest-growing airports, and we are committed to improving its transport links. Mayor Rotheram has pledged to deliver a Bus Rapid Transit service which will provide quick and easy connections between Liverpool city centre and the airport, as well as Anfield and the new Everton stadium at Bramley Moore Dock.

“While the rail board’s intention is to deliver a major national infrastructure project which will take many years to establish, the benefits of Bus Rapid Transit will arrive much sooner, with the Mayor’s ambition that a high-quality, fast and direct link to Liverpool John Lennon Airport be running by 2028.

“Further detail on these plans will be shared in the coming months.”

A rapid bus transit scheme between Liverpool John Lennon Airport, Liverpool city centre, Anfield, and Bramley Moore Stadium was part of Rotheram’s campaign manifesto. Inspiration for the service comes from the Belfast Glider.


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Four years to establish a bus rapid transit scheme? Not so rapid, then.

By More Anonymous than the others

I don’t think it needs it

By Anonymous

And – sorry – did that spokesperson say that a *bus* could be running by 2028???

Are they learning to build one?

By Jeff

Linking Liverpool to JLA directly by rail is probably the best idea, as several of your commenters have said. The problem the rail board has is that they’re asking for what has already been turned down once before, so when Plan A fails, revert to Plan A and expect a different answer. Best of luck with that one guys!

By WayFay

2028 isn’t soon enough Steve we need it now due to growth and Airport popularity .Stop thinking years ahead act now with the growth?

By Anonymous

This sums up how bad Rotheram is, it shouldn’t take years to get a few buses running. Liverpool will continue to stagnate and fall further behind Manchester even with a Labour Government.

By Peter

Thanks for pursuing this Julia but this is an inadequate response from Rotheram and while he refuses to engage properly, lots of unanswered questions will remain. He’s been pushing his tidal barrier and now this Manchester centric rail scheme but I’ve yet to see or hear him do any sort of interview to justify either project. In a recent posting on X he took credit for Everton’s new ground at Bramley Moore but when he was challenged that the new ground was nothing to do with him, he didn’t reply. He was re-elected because of his party affiliations, not because of his track record. The turnout was tiny, so although he has a mandate he doesn’t have the trust or confidence of his constituents. His refusal and failure to engage only undermines his position. I think an interview would be an opportunity for him to put his arguments across and for him to answer all the questions surrounding his infrastructure policies.

By Roy

I think that Liverpool airport should be on this train line. Liverpool Centre, Liverpool Airport, Warrington, Manchester Airport, Manchester Centre. What is so difficult about that?

By Elephant

A poor and fumbled response from LCR, they’ve obviously noted in various media that Liverpool and Liverpool Airport has been stitched up in this rail deal. I mean Happy Al’s could run a bus to the airport within weeks. Once again it’s lack of ambition and big ideas, and Liverpool gets tagged on to someone else’s plan our rail connections are poor to most parts of the country, and one of our historic links ie North and Central Wales is still denied direct trains to Llandundo,Wrexham and beyond from Lime Street, even though the Halton Curve was reinstated, albeit single-track , and Steve’s promises of longer distance service improvements have not materialised.

By Anonymous

When is a commitment not a commitment.


Why we love Place North West – excellent bit of journalism Julia

By Anonymous

Still waiting for Rotheram to engage with me..when has he ever agreed to meet the general public?

Why are we putting another city’s airport ajead of our own? Build a station halt for Anfield by the old Clarence pub and get a tram running from New EFF ground linking with Sandhills, pier head, old festival gardens, Hunts x or sth parkway and on to Liverpool can be done

By Rotheramcareerpolitician

Isn’t the point of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway that it also would be the route in to both cities from what ever gets salvaged out of HS2 north of Brum.

By Rich X

How many years has this man had to support Bramley Moore Stadium? my god don’t they work with development and growth. Always a 10-15 yr masterplan in Liverpool yawn.

By Anonymous

Come on Steve, we’ve already got a rapid bus service directly to the JLA, the number 500 from Paradise Bus Terminal all’s we need is to up the frequency to every ten minutes, but the TRUE ANSWER IS A CONNECTION FROM SOUTH PARKWAY for trains travelling from the Southport, Kirkby and Ormskirk, and in the other direction maybe from Runcorn, NOT ROCKET SCIENCE


Nice strip of grass between Hale Road and Hale Drive in Speke to run a rail loop along/under to LJL airport, with a station opposite Weston Avenue.

By Gum

Thank you Julia, for contacting Steve Rotheram.
He has been in office for 8 years and still has not acknowledged the importance of LJLA, so according to him 2028 a bus will finally arrive at the Airport? This means 12 years after his initial election something had happened.
I believe the Mayors comments confirm mine and other posters opinion that he is not the right person for the office and seems to be more interested in being led by other people?

By Liverpolitis

Wait till Labour get into Government Liverpool will still get nothing
Labour was the party that declined turnaround status for the cruise terminal ? It was actually the Tory party that granted Liverpool this.

By Anonymous

Somebody realizes Liverpool Airport is a real alternative to Manchester Airport. Somebody is trying to kill Liverpool Airport.

By James Yates

So Rotherams solution is bendy buses, yes bendy busses no kidding, when the Liverpool City Region has largest metro outside of London, with amazing scope for expansion, with the two London and Manchester lines not far from John Lennon airport. So no metro, regional or long haul rail connection the airport. Is this man serious?

He is still on about a fast rail connection from Liverpool to MAN airport. Fine, but you do not ignore your own expanding airport when billions are on the table for future rail projects. All the North West towns and cities needs excellent and fast rail access to ‘both’ airports as both combined add value to all the North West and beyond. That is were the focus should be not implementing by stealth a section of the rightly cancelled HS2.

Rotheram has lost the plot, if he ever had the plot in the first place. He needs to serious advice.

By John

why 4 years for a bus? We have buses already and we already have fast routes that take you from the city centre right to the airport. This is another way to improve manchester airport passenger numbers and leave liverpool numbers behind. 4 years for a bus when we already have direct fast buses to the airport? As someone else mentioned, we NEED a station and it NEEDS to be on the mcr airport line.

stop putting manchester at the forefront.

By anonymous scouser

Will the rapid transit call at Liverpool South Parkway Station ? This is crucial for passengers connecting to rail.

By Carl

Steve is happy to play second fiddle to his mate Burnham, and it follows that hes happy for Liverpool to play second fiddle to the self proclaimed ‘Capital of the North’.

When will we get some ambitious city leaders unafraid to do difficult things for the benefit of Liverpool? A great city, let down by the people who run it, a tale as old as time


@Anon 2.58pm, Labour too that pulled the money for the tram network even after we’d spent millions buying the tracks. The late Alastair Darling stitched us up there well and truly at the last minute , when we all thought it was about to be signed off.

By Anonymous

How about rail and road connection from near the end of the A5300 , it open land there after, add a station also for Hale and Speke

By Carl

All that money for an airport that barely handles 3m passengers? How does that stack up?

By Anonymous

Running bendy busses to Everton FCs Bramley Moore Docks stadium will not scratch the surface of a 54,000 crowd. It needs Sandhills station expanding to at least four platforms. In a city with a comprehensive metro, not running it to the stadium and the airport is gross incompetence.

By Anonymous

While the king of fools bats for the other side, I see it like this. Manchester airport already has rail links to Liverpool. Liverpool airport doesn’t. Now they’re getting a high speed service while John Lennon Airport gets a bendy bus, sorry Bus Rapid Transit. Do you see the huge disparity here? Not only does the Manchester Region get more power to the monster that is their airport, they’re even going to get a new underground Piccadilly station in central Manchester and an underground tunnel to serve it. All under the NPR banner. Exactly how that serves the Liverpool City Region is beyond me. These are self serving politicians doing nothing for the Liverpool region. Apart from short term gimmicks. And need to resign.

By David

Rotherham and Burnham don’t actually do very much other than push bills up!!

By Manc

If Steve is meant to be championing the LCR then that rail link should have a stop at Liverpool Airport and also Widnes (I assume it’s using the existing Fiddler’s Ferry line. Come on Steve, champion the LCR at LJLA and Widnes.

By Anonymous

A bus. Wow. So, just like Kampala, then.

By Matthew Jones

Here’s a radical idea. What about an underground railway from Liverpool central to JLA and then on to Warrington.

By LordLiverpool

There are at least 4 things going on here that anger me. The total disregard for LJLA from our own city leaders is contemptable. The laughable assumption that the BRT is a suitable & acceptable solution. While Manchester have first class links to their airport from elsewhere and their own city centre.

Also “The focus is to deliver transformational investment, with new and upgraded city centre stations in Liverpool and Manchester as well as a new, high-speed rail line running via Warrington and Manchester Airport.” Question, who gets the new city centre stations and who gets the upgraded city centre stations? Answers on the back of a postcard please.

Also, the BRT which is BUS rapid transit (clue is in the name) is being slotted in because it is being pushed by the likes of Rotheram and his minions. Instead of a true tram system like Manchester’s Metrolink. No matter how long these things take they have to start somewhere. Manchester has done it. Rotheram will only look at cheap, easy fixes. I’m glad people are seeing through him.

By David

The problem with a heavy rail link is cost. To be worthwhile it has to translate into more flights in to LJLA and those flights to bring more passengers there is no indication that a heavy rail link cause this. For Liverpool to fund the link, those passengers have to stay or do business or be tourists in Liverpool.
A light rail line either tram or train/tram would do the job for less, it could also benefit areas on the route.
There is a big element of “keeping up with the Jones” with the demand for a heavy rail link. If it is that obvious that a heavy rail link would be good for Liverpool then it should be a simple task to produce a cost benefit analysis but so far none. Not from independents, not from LCC and not from LJLA.


What an inadequate response. £17000,000,000 is to be allocated for improving rail links. A vast sum. Money of this scale is never going to be available again. A fair share of this should be used to connect Liverpool Airport to the city centre and beyond. The short 2 mile rail link from the airport to South Parkway should be built now while the funds are available, and the land is still available to build it on. Let’s not pass this opportunity up. If we don’t build this now while the money is available, it very likely will never be built at all. While you’re at it, get a move on with an Anfield Station, Baltic Station and the new Everton Station. A fair share of £17,000,000,000 should cover those with change to upgrade Liverpool Central too. A bus link. Behave ! Connectivity means growth. Show some determination and vision. Our city forefathers would be ashamed by such negligence. Leadership and vision please !

By Stephen Davis.

Last bus from JLA at the weekend is around 11pm, it’s absurd.

By Petra

Hang on…. Manchester gets a new and improved railway service to their airport and Liverpool gets… A BUS? Ok then 😤

By Anonymous

Labour is too comfortable in Liverpool. Why would they bother doing anything for it when they will be voted in no matter what.

Bendy bus in 2028 great. We’ve got solid plans for central station from the 1970’s still waiting for the budget to be built!


It’s all very well saying the airport needs a rail link but where will it be put? Through Speke housing estate? Through the greenbelt in Hale? Through the estuary industrial estate? Through Speke Hall? Stupid idea. Just make it’s car parks cheaper. That will do.

By FedUp

I also can’t believe that any bus rapid transit will have any real benefit. Unless it is fully segregated from all other traffic, it will still just be a bus. If it is fully segregated, then they may as well do it properly and build a train line.
Also, what is the point of a BLT from the airport to the city centre? So everyone will have to get a fast train to the city centre, then walk across to a bus station and get a slow bus back out to the airport? Why, when there is either a) a perfectly good rail line not far which could have a short deviation for the airport, or b) a whole new rail line between Liverpool and Manchester via Manchester Airport that should have a stop also at Liverpool Airport.

Seriously, Scousers and Mancunians alike should demand the new line services BOTH airports. Anything less is a plastic version of the railway


We have been waiting for something for years, still waiting , party in a brewery comes to mind.

By Anonymous

The dropping off system is very poor if you arrive by minibus which is at least half a mile which you have to walk there is know shuttle system especially for disabled people never mind people who are able

By Anonymous

We already have three buses that operate to the airport 86A 82A and the 500 so why not just improve what we have. New buses,new route common sense is what is needed

By Liverpool resident

It would improve transport links, by having a 24 hour bus service from every merseyside town to John Lennon airport

By Anonymous

It’s not needed. Let them leave their carbon footprint over Manchester

By Bixteth Boy

Rail or tram connection required. Please think big and be ambitious.

By Stevo

Before Covid Liverpool JLA had reached annual passenger figures of over 5 million. Like other airports that suffered , passenger figures are growing again, and Liverpool in particular has improved greatly as a popular airport. There are various ways to bring rail to JLA, either from the WCML or via Merseyrail, as both of these routes run within a few miles of JLA at present, and if part of this required a cut and cover tunnel so be it. This is a clear case of build it and they will come, let’s face it 20 years ago we had virtually no cruise industry now we are in great demand to the point where we have a global operator in charge of our cruise terminal and they plan to expand it.

By Anonymous

Reading the comments, some people still don’t get it.

Not only is there are massive disparity between Manchester and Liverpool, the have & the have nots, but there’s a blind ignorance that some how we, the Liverpool City Region, DON’T need certain things because WE don’t apparently have the demand. Plus WE can do just fine with buses and bigger car parks at the airport.

Dear oh dear. The bigger picture is Manchester whether it’s their own city transport or their own airport, just gets bigger and better. While Liverpool are continually given poorer alternatives. BRT instead of trams. Revamped stations instead of new stations.

For those that dismiss Liverpool Airport if you give it better transport such as a direct rail line that conects to Merseyrail and Liverpool SouthParkway, then surely the airport will only improve?

This is not about keeping up with the Jones, this is about not accepting inferior transport schemes and inferior leadership that keeps Liverpool in its place. Those in power need to step aside if they cannot deliver for the city they serve.

By David

Agreed, we need leaders who demand the best for our city. There has been a 40 year period locally of arguing for second tier status. No more!

By LEighteen

Lots of contrasting opinions. These things can’t be built on a hunch of potential expansion to an airport of 3m passengers, otherwise it will simply be a national embarrassment and a future excuse to not invest.
Our passengers numbers are about a sixth of Manchester’s, is it really economically viable?

By Anonymous

I am curious as to why Mr. Rotherham is keen to see improved rail services from Liverpool to Manchester Airport and not prepared to support with the same enthusiasm a rail link from the existing nearby railway stations to John Lennon Airport. Just a few miles of track needs to be built. Isn’t failing to do this going to encourage more people to opt to fly from Manchester and, airlines to further transfer and open up new routes from Manchster at LJA’s expense ? I’ve heard no comment from JLA or the Liverpool business community to fight for this since the funding was announced. Little wonder Lufthansa recently left and more airlines are not planning to locate there.

By Steve Davis.

Liverpool airports growth has been stagnant for ten years because it hasn’t been developed or had the funding that MAN has with the latter seeing a growth of – 10 Million pax in the same period. Some if not all of that could have been at Liverpool so that there is some parity. Glasgow and Edinburgh effectively share their paseengers and are forty miles apart, why can’t Liverpool have a greater portion of the MAN traffic? Liverpool doesn’t even have a connection to the capital. Outrageous but Mayor Rotheram just continues supporting Burnham.

By Mike Mooney

For those who say Liverpool John Lennon airport is not worthy of a rail link.
The London line, Manchester line and the Merseyrail metro are all nearby. The airport can be accessed from the east cheaply across fields leaving metro stations serving Hale and Speke. This will make the airport a terminus. The airport station can be a through station by boring a 1.3 mile tunnel from its west. A tunnel about 15% of the length proposed from MAN airport to Manchester Piccadilly – MAN airport already has a rail link. The 1.3 mile tunnel could have station in it serving a shopping centre and commercial park. So four stations can be built serving residential, airport, commercial park and shopping park.
Give the airport ease of access of course passenger numbers and flights will increase.
All win, win.

By John

It’s really very simple.

Unless and until passenger numbers reach the usual threshold for a rail link (again Manchester Airport was handling in the order of 14m passengers when its rail link opened), then there is zero argument to invest scarce public resource in connecting LPJL. The question that those promoting the scheme need to answer is not ‘why not build a rail link to LPJL’ ; but rather ‘why not ALSO build one to Blackpool or Leeds airports’. Either none of them are justified or they all are.

By Mr Investment Appraisal

Not au fait with the Belfast Glider, but from what I’ve seen online, it looks like a bus dressed up as a tram? Am I correct in saying this is not a guided busway?

A 2028 completion date for a guided busway sounds inept, I genuinely can’t understand why it takes 4 years to put on a new bus service?

By Anonymous

It’s a lot easier travelling from Liverpool airport assuming you can find the flight you want. I prefer it small and usable so Im happy that it won’t cost in.

By Anonymous

The answer is simple Manchester Airport is owned by the City councils Greater Manchester while Liverpool Airport is owned by a private company with it’s head office in Manchester.If Liverpool Airport wants a rail link it’s private owners should pay for it and not the tax payers of Liverpool.

By Anonymous

Contrasting views above from John and Mr Investment Appraisal.

Mr Investment Appraisal seems a bright chap but completely misses the point. On multiple levels.

If the rail connection is built, then the airport will grow. If you build it, they will come. If the Metro Mayor and LCR CA opt for Manchester airport over Liverpool, they’re favouring another cities airport over their own. They’re boosting the other cities airport and at the same time, they’re holding back our own. Directly damaging the prospects of our airport reaching greater numbers. That’s contemptible. They’re also doing a disservice to any JLA users by offering very poor transport links. Finally, as John has stated, the rail line is accessible nearby from the east of Speke. Through what would be less of a challenge both physically and financially, than anything connected to the Manchester side. It’s a no brainer.

I can’t for the life of me understand anyone from the Liverpool city region that could oppose this. Especially the likes of the Metro Mayor and any councillors or leaders from the Combined Authority and Merseytravel.

By David

I prefer Liverpool Airport. Obviously there’s hardly any flights from it but I don’t mind. I just like to drive there, watch the coaches arrive, then drive home again.

By Anonymous

Re the post on 24/5 who said requesting a rail link to the airport was just “keeping up with the Jones’s “, so what is wrong in seeking to improve not just rail access to JLA but also provide a couple of stations for the Speke area population . If you have a will to do something you can make it happen, it’s easy to sit at your bean counter and say we can’t afford it. We built a cruise terminal which has gone from zero to hundreds of thousands of passengers per year and growing , we worked with Grosvenor to create Liverpool One which brought our shopping into the modern times, we built a successful arena and conference centre which is praised by the professionals.
Wouldn’t it be best to draw up the plans and get some drawings done and maybe with a mix of private and goverment finance we can get an airport station rather than give up at the very start.

By Anonymous

Hi David, if you build a rail link to Blackpool and Leeds airports, they (as in increased passenger throughput) will also come.

Therefore, what makes LJLA a special case for public investment over those airports – particularly when existing passenger throughout is still relatively low in a UK—wide context?

By Mr Investment Appraisal

Anon 12.33pm, maybe you would get more excitement if you waited till the coaches departed then you would see more activity. Are you sure you are going to the airport at the right time? cos I looked at the aircraft arrival and departure schedule and there seemed to be a fair number to me.

By Anonymous

Mr Investment Appraisal and David,
Comparing Blackpool with Liverpool is plain silly.
The CAA on at least one occasion has written that the airport with least problems to expand is Liverpool as planes can take off over a one mile wide estuary. The environmental impact is minimal. It has been suggested, esecially in the late 70s when MAN need millions of investment, to close down MAN and move entirely to Liverpool or have fast direct dedicated rail line between the two instead of the controversial second runway. Check in at one airport then take off from the other. Long haul jets are best taking off from Liverpool for obvious reaons.
Liverpool John Lennon has the rail links adjacent – the Manchester, London and local lines. It is a no-brainer to have rail links to Liverpool John Lennon so both airports are accessed from all over the NW with ease by all. Then the people, recall them?, of the North West gain.

By John

Investment Appraisal, let Blackpool and Leeds fight to improve their airports, but as far as LJLA is concerned we will argue and fight for ours.

By Anonymous

Maybe Rotheram could re introduce,
His old mate’s (Big Joe) Zip wire idea to connect LJLA to the new railway line.
At least it will be quicker than his
Proposed bendy bus.

By Zipperty do dar!

At the end of the day it’s down to Liverpool to prove it’s worth the investment. No one else can make a business case for it, no matter hard you squeeze your heads and tell everyone how hard done to that you are. Manchester had to do the same but some pretend it never had to work its socks off.
This is a bit of a last chance saloon, will Liverpool take it, or continue to pretend it’s the airport that people prefer because there’s significantly less flights, similar to someone saying that they prefer going to the corner shop rather than Tesco.

By Anonymous

I’ve never read so many sensible comments and suggestions. Unfortunately Mr Rotherham and his colleagues in Labour run Liverpool City Council do not sound sensible. They lack the passion and vision that is needed to take this city forward. I’m very ashamed of them. Its such a pity we don’t have politicians in our city that possess the forward thinking attitude and imagination as those who govern Manchester. Our Labour politicians seem to represent themselves. They don’t listen, they don’ learn from their mistakes and continue to adopt policies that deter the same levels of massive investment that is happening in other cities close by. As a Labour voter, until the last election I’m embarrassed and quite ashamed of them. They appear to be just as inadequate as before the government had to intervene. Maybe Labour have run this city for too long and become far too complacent.

By Stephen Davis.

ZIP wire suggestion. Never laughed so much. Keep them coming.

By Stephen Davis.

30 May 1206 anon I think you’re right it is down to Liverpool to prove it’s worth the investment. I don’t think anyone is saying we’re hard done by. I think most are clear. It’s what Liverpool can do. As in the leaders. Clearly it’s just like Stephen says.

By David

David & Stephen,
The mood of the nation is anti-Tory whch is obvious, so it cascades down to local level. Many conflate national and local politics. If the people of the LCR went on performance Rotheram would have been out like a shot.
Going along with Burnham to reinstate a section of HS2 from Warrington to Manchester Piccadilly via MAN airport, that puts his own region at a disadvantage overtly displays the gullibility of the man.

By Anonymous

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