Liverpool’s election plea for High Speed rail

Fifty Liverpool business leaders and the vice chancellors of the city region's four universities have sent an open letter to the leaders of the three main political parties calling for a commitment to ensuring the city gets a direct High Speed Rail link as a matter of urgency.

Currently neither the HS2 project nor the emerging Transport for the North vision for an East / West HS3 make any commitment to deliver a High Speed rail line into Liverpool.

The Open Letter was co-ordinated by the independent business-led 20 Miles More campaign and was signed by local companies in freight, professional services, life sciences, tourism, retail and creative industries along with universities and major business organisations including the North West Business Leadership Team, FSB, Professional Liverpool, Liverpool BID Company and Downtown Liverpool in Business.

Andrew Morris, chairman of 20 Miles More, said: "These are the businesses and institutions that are forging our future economy. The range of signatures demonstrates the breadth of support for a direct High Speed link to the city and how vitally important this is to our future prosperity and success. Liverpool's economy has always been based on connectivity and pioneering infrastructure. With the massive investment in the new Post-Panamax port facility we desperately need additional rail capacity and better connectivity in order to handle the projected massive growth in freight."

20 Miles More believes it's important that business and economic case is heard and that the political parties are challenged during the election about their commitment to the city and this vital piece of economic investment. Whereas all the parties have had a been underlining their commitment to economic re-balancing and releasing the potential of Northern cities the issue has not yet surfaced in the General Election Campaign.

The Open Letter comes ahead of on the publication of a major report by the think-tank ResPublica setting out the strategic case for a Liverpool High Speed link. The report was commissioned by Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson.

Phillip Blond, director of resPublica, said: "Our report provides a comprehensive review of the city region economy and how it can best realise growth opportunities and potential. As a result we conclude that the case for a direct High Speed line into Liverpool is even more compelling and beneficial to the UK economy."

Anderson added: "I welcome the Open Letter from 20 Miles More and the business community. It is a timely intervention aimed at ensuring the interests and aspirations of the city are heard during this critically important election campaign."

See open letter in full below


David Cameron – Leader of the Conservative Party

Ed Miliband – Leader of the Labour Party

Nick Clegg – Leader of the Liberal Democrat Party

Dear Sirs,

Twelve months ago 20 Miles More launched an independent grass roots campaign to ensure that Liverpool was an integral part of the HS2 project. As businesses and business organisations in the City Region, we continue to believe we have a direct interest in this issue. Connectivity directly impacts on our success and our capacity to help the city grow a vibrant and prosperous economy.

Liverpool is currently the largest English city not serviced by HS2 and there are currently no definitive plans to provide the city with a dedicated High Speed line as part of the proposed HS3 East / West link. Over the last 12 months Liverpool has taken its case directly to Government, HS2 Ltd, other key decision-makers and to each of the party political conferences. Businesses, City Region leaders and public bodies have worked together to press home the strong business case for a direct High Speed connection to Liverpool.

We believe that the next few weeks are a precious opportunity to influence those who will be governing the UK and ultimately making these vital decisions.

This is not about shaving a few extra minutes off journey times to London or other city destinations. What is at stake here is whether Liverpool remains a major economic centre or becomes an increasingly peripheral branch-line destination.

High Speed connectivity matters to Liverpool because without it we simply lack the rail capacity to realise the potential of the enormous investment in our port expansion. It matters because better connected city regions will inevitably become more attractive investment destinations, and it matters because it is the fastest and most obvious way to kick-start the exciting vision for a Northern Powerhouse. By radically improving connectivity between the two Northern cities (Liverpool and Manchester) with the closest geographic and economic links, we are at last creating an urban centre with the assets and potential to counter-balance London and the South East.

As businesses in the City Region we are investing in Liverpool's future every hour of every day. After decades of decline Liverpool's economy has, in recent years, been growing faster than any other UK city. This growth is being driven by private sector ambition and entrepreneurialism.

We believe it's only right that the next Government matches our confidence and commitment by giving our city the infrastructure and connectivity it needs to become a powerful asset to the wider UK economy.

That's why we are now calling directly on the Leaders of all the main UK political parties to commit to the principle of a direct High Speed rail connection to Liverpool. We call on you to work with businesses in the City Region and with all our main public agencies to work out imaginative and sustainable options for funding and delivering this vital piece of economic infrastructure as quickly as possible.

200 years ago, Liverpool entrepreneurs conceived and delivered the world's first inter-city railway. In the same spirit we invite you to join us in planning a new future for one of the world's most pioneering and inventive cities.

Yours sincerely,

Bill Addy – Chair Liverpool BID Company

Professor Janet Beer – Vice Chancellor University of Liverpool

Chris Bliss – Estates Director Liverpool One

Elaine Bowker – Chief Executive The City of Liverpool College

Martin Bramley – Managing Director Eurowrap

Mark Butchard – Managing Director Mark Butchard Business Solutions Ltd

Professor Tom Cannon – Strategic Development Liverpool University

Dr John Carter – Vice Chancellor Edge Hill University

Emile Coleman – CEO Elite Sport Technologies

Graham Cook – Director Albert Dock Company

Lord Derby – President Liverpool and Sefton Chamber of Commerce

George Downing – Chief Executive Downing Developments

Sudaghara Dusanj – Managing Director Brewery Village Ltd

Robert Elstone – Chief Executive Everton Football Club

Ray Enfield – Chairman Rayware

Antonio Garcia – Managing Director Blok Architecture

John Hall – Chief Executive Professional Liverpool

Mike Hanlon – Chief Executive Maghull Group

Ian Higby – Managing Director ACL UK

Andrew Holroyd – Senior Partner Jackson Canter

Tim Johnston – Chairman AMION Consulting

Stuart Keppie – Partner Keppie Massie

David Lewis – Senior Partner Weightmans LLP

Phil McCabe – Merseyside , West Cheshire and Wigan Federation of Small Business

Peter McInnes – Chairman PHD1 Ltd

Frank McKenna – Chair Downtown Liverpool in Business

Ian Meadows – Executive Chairman R S Clare and Co Ltd

Andrew Morris – Chair 20 Miles More

Tom Morris – Managing Director TJ Morris

Chris Mussom – Chief Executive Liverpool Science Park


Eryl Parry – Director of Enterprise Liverpool Cathedral

Steve Parry – Chief Executive Neptune Developments

Dave Pichilingi – CEO Sound City

Janet Pickavance – Chief Executive Brabners LLP

Professor Gerald Pillay – Vice Chancellor Liverpool Hope University

Geoffrey Piper – North West Business Leadership Team

Bob Prattey – Chief Executive ACC Liverpool

Stephen Quinn – Sales Director Locker Freight Ltd

Erika Rushton – Chair Baltic Creative

Paul Sheppard – Studio Director IBI Group

Mike Stubbs – Director FACT

Neil Sturmey – Partner Grant Thornton Liverpool

John Sutcliffe – Managing Director Sutcliffe

Sally Tallant – Director Liverpool Biennial

Geoff Wainwright – MerseyBio

Guy Wallis – Founder partner DWF

Professor Nigel Weatherill – Vice Chancellor Liverpool John Moores University

Tony Wilson – Partner Hill Dickinson LLP

Your Comments

Read our comments policy

Slightly strange way to word the letter, the emphasis should surely be on how the link will benefit the country as a whole – playing on the high growth in Liverpool section towards the end, and putting the ‘without it Liverpool is at a disadvantage’ rather less prominantly. The message is about what Liverpool wants rather than about how it will benefit the recipient.

By CdB

There should be no HS2 full stop. A total wate of public money and if the manchester line does get the go ahead then liverpool should only get it via Wigan not via Northwich as one stretch of. Green open land being vandalised is bad enough so to liverpool and its business leaders you can think again if you want HS2 especially coming past the mid cheshire towns of northwich middlewich and winsford. So if you want it. Ask for it via Wigan

By No to HS2

The economic case for HS2 is clear. What we don’t want is a bunch of NIMBYs damaging the country’s prospects for some limited impact on a few fields, and what in some cases amounts to some pretty insignificant, semi-urbanised ugly scrub land that protesters would have you believe is some sort of haven.

By I K Brunel

I find the use of the word "plea" in the article’s title pejorative. This is a reasoned business case that has been recognised by HS2 Limited and Transport for the North and backed by 50 business leaders from across the the greater Liverpool region.

By John

Lets face it liverpool is a small provincial city a little bit bigger than chester and will be lucky to get HS2 if it gets the go ahead Your getting a port and some small boats docking there be happy with that and stop moaning!

By No HS2

Liverpool isn’t "a little bit" bigger than Chester. Taking the WHOLE of Cheshire West and Chester, the population is 331,000. Taking Liverpool city alone, population is 470,000… that’s already 40% higher, before adding Knowsley (146,000), or Sefton (273,000)… totaling three quarters of a million. Add St Helens (176,000) and Wirral (320,000), you’re looking at over 1.3m in Liverpool city region. (Source: 2011 Census) I suspect you may be being facetious.

By scouseboi

HS2 to Liverpool will have a huge impact on the prospects of the North as a whole because it will give the North a recognisable and instantly identifiable international face galvanising the economies of the whole mega region in the longer term.

By Paul Blackburn

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