The North West Development Agency is calling on the Government to implement a comprehensive high speed rail network to help drive economic growth into the region, in response to the launch of two reports on high speed rail in the UK.
In the first report 'Transforming our Economy and our Connectivity: High Speed Rail for the North', Northern Way, a partnership organisation, sets out its recommendations for a high speed rail network for Britain which serves the City Regions of the north.
The second report, NWDA has said, is the "evidence-backed" Greengauge21 'Fast Forward' report on high speed rail which recommends prioritising the delivery of a high speed line from London to the North West.
Steven Broomhead, chief executive of the NWDA, said: "We are encouraged that the Greengauge21 report shows that a high speed route from London to Manchester and Liverpool would have the strongest economic case and should be the first stage in the creation of a national network – we strongly endorse this and the opportunities it would offer in terms of sustainable economic benefits to the region and we would look to build on this with further stops at Preston and Carlisle.
"The provision of further capacity to the region's strategic rail links to London and beyond is crucial given Network Rail's recent forecast that the West Coast Main Line between London, Birmingham and the North West predicts that it will be full by 2020. We must address this issue as urgently as possible.
"Greengauge21's research very much aligns with Network Rail's recent evidence on the case for high speed lines in the UK and it is very welcome and reassuring that both reports prioritise the need for a new high speed line to the North West.
"We hope the government's own research on high speed rail, due for completion at the end of the year, comes to similar conclusions to Greengauge21 and Network Rail and we can start working quickly on its delivery."
The Northern Way report advocates investment in existing lines, including the Trans-Pennine, Midland and East Coast Main Lines, to pave the way for a comprehensive high speed network in the longer term.
Hugh Morgan Williams, chairman of the Northern Way, said: "Looking at all the evidence, including the new evidence that Greengauge21 has published today, the Northern Way recognises that a high speed line on the west side of the country from London to Manchester and linking in Heathrow and the Channel Tunnel is a compelling next phase for the implementation of a high speed rail network in Britain."
The Northern Way is a partnership between the three northern Regional Development Agencies, Yorkshire Forward, North West Development Agency and One NorthEast, which also works with local authorities, universities, the private sector and other partners.
Greengauge21 is a not-for-profit organisation which aims to research and develop the concept of a high speed rail network, and to promote its implementation as a national economic priority.