UKREiiF Day Manchester Liverpool Infrastructure, UKREiiF, c UKREiiF

The Liverpool-Manchester Railway Board will consist of members of the public and private sectors. Credit: UKREiiF

UKREiiF | Full steam ahead for Liverpool-Manchester Railway Board

“History is truly being made this morning,” said Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, as he addressed a crowded room at the Royal Armouries in Leeds on Wednesday.

Burnham and Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram took to the stage at UKREiiF to announce the formation of a Liverpool-Manchester Railway Board. The group is charged with crafting a strategy for the £17bn rail link between the two cities that maximises potential benefits to the region, while also linking the Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester investment zones.

“It’s not going to be like HS2,” Rotheram told the audience. “This is going to happen.”

The board consists of Liverpool City Region Mayor Rotheram, Greater Manchester Mayor Burnham, Manchester City Council Leader Cllr Bev Craig, Liverpool City Council Leader Cllr Liam Robinson, Warrington Council Leader Cllr Hans Mundry, and Manchester Airport Group managing director Chris Woodroofe.

They are also seeking members from the private sector, with Burnham and Rotheram making a call for any of those interested to get in touch during their announcement at UKREiiF.

Craig added her own message to potential private sector partners, discussing the scheme’s wider ambition: “We’ll be looking to experts across the country, to partners from business, to be able to look at how we can make this not just move forward for success for Manchester and Liverpool, but be that linchpin for the transformation of travel across the North.”

The future line will connect through Warrington Bank Quay and Manchester Airport. The government announced its support for the route in March.

Rotheram and Burnham, alongside the other rail board members, unveiled their vision for what they hope the rail line could achieve.

MAG’s Woodroofe spoke about the potential to cut travel time from Liverpool city centre to Manchester Airport from more than an hour to 25 minutes.

Mundry played up the potential of Warrington Bank Quay’s redevelopment, with the former Unilever soap factory site offering the potential for 3,000 homes and 18m sq ft of offices. Adding a railway to that would only increase the possible economic growth of the area.

The rail line could also feature plans to fix capacity issues at stations on both ends.

“I think it’s fair to say that the stations in both cities are a wee bit tired,” Robinson said.

He added later: “We think there are huge opportunities here, not just to revolutionise the capacity of stations within Liverpool city centre, but to turn them into poles of growth in their own right…

“There’s a huge opportunity in all of this to develop something that’s not solely a transport hub in its own right but, crucially, is an economic gateway to our city and similarly at the other end in Manchester and beyond.”

Building on that, Robinson spoke about the potential for the line to end at Liverpool Central, rather than Liverpool Lime Street.

Craig also reiterated her desire for an underground Manchester Piccadilly station – an option that is still on the table, according to government.

“We aren’t exaggerating when we say this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to get it right,” she said. “We need to get it right and fit for the future.”

UKREiiF continues through 23 May at the Royal Armouries in Leeds. Stay up-to-date on the latest coverage of the convention on our UKREiiF news hub.

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YES to the Manchester underground!

By Anonymous

How about we build a train line from Liverpool to our own airport first?

By Roy

This should link Liverpool airport too and go straight to the ferry terminal in Liverpool.

By Elephant

18m sq ft of offices in Warrington, a needless all budget consuming underground station in Manchester. And a lean-to expansion of Liverpool Central (which needs doing anyway).

In the meantime, escalators are out at Moorfields with no sign of work. Escalators are out at Lime Street (Network Rail are having a part made, due July, because the escalators are too old – and NR are too cheap to replace them). Minor additions to the network are being played up as major. On top, we learn that TGFM plan to seize control of lines into Liverpool, that mostly serve Liverpool stops (because the line ends at Mcr Airport, apparently). That’s Liverpool passengers fares potentially going into improving Manchester’s transport.

The Liverpool Post called Rotheram a patsy, and I’m beginning to wonder if it’s true.

By Jeff

If I was an employee at Liverpool Airport, a trade union member, or union official, or for that matter one of the many airlines that use it , I`d be asking questions to Steve Rotheram and Andy Burnham as to how Liverpool does not figure in any of this but has been shafted to the position of just a little local airport, destined to remain that way, with no rail connection.
Jet2 , for example, are a major flyer from Liverpool and will want the best for their customers but getting there is not so easy as public transport links , especially rail, need improvement and the bendy bus solution is just a sticking plaster approach.
Also does Liam Robinson hint that Liverpool Central overground terminus will be brought back into use?

By Anonymous

Rotheram and Robinson would be better creating a rail link to Liverpool Airport rather than helping another Cities airport gain passengers from our area.
Why is there no link to LJLA, if this happened the two airports could work together. There is a big dog leg link to Manchester and not to LJLA, come on LCC wake up!

By Liverpolitis

I’ m intrigued how this proposed line will go from Manchester Airport to Manchester City Centre.
The HS2 route was to be a tunnel.
I hope they are not thinking of going via Stockport as there isn’t any capacity.
Apart from that do we really need to be spending£17 Billion on a liverpool to Manchester line when one exists.
The money would be better spent improving the routes from Manchester to the major Cities in Yorkshire I . E Leeds,Bradford , Sheffield.

By Peter Chapman

It’s interesting to see Steve Rotherham promoting this route. I am sure it would benefit both cities. Where would most of the investment go? Which city will benefit most ? Can we add a fast rail link to Liverpool airport as well as Manchester airport to this agenda ?

By Stephen Davis.

A question for the railway nerds/experts: how does this plan interact with other live proposals like the Virgin and FirstGroup bids for open-access routes that utilise the West Coast Main Line? Does Warrington Bank Quay have the capacity to support both, for example?

By Salfordian

We should grasp this opportunity and run the line from Liverpool Airport into Liverpool, onwards to Warrington, to Manchester Airport into Manchester.

By Stephen Davis.

So, now we know. Steve Rotheram has abandoned all pretences of bringing Liverpool closer to Manchester and Yorkshire, and has instead caved in to the £17,000,000,000, taxpayer funded, “South Manchester Urban Regeneration Project”, wherein Liverpool’s sole benefit is to be “25 minutes from Manchester Airport”. Whoopee.

By Jones Matthew

They will need to expand and improve the airport after this.

By Anonymous

A bit odd announcing a mega rail project for the North West, in Leeds.

By Elephant

No idea how ungrateful you all sound

By Blackpool

We can foresee the outcome here, Manchester gets its end done first , then Warrington, and then it’s “oh sorry Liverpool we’ve run out of money”.
Note too Liam Robinson says the line “could” terminate at Liverpool Central, what we want to hear is it “will”.
Once again Liverpool is the puppet.

By Anonymous

Liverpool airport is too small, provides the best opportunity to consolidate.

By Anonymous

Surely HS2 is going to eventually be connected to all this as well

By Quail

They are starting from the wrong angle.
Liverpool Central is the busiest underground station outside London needs to be 4 or 6 platforms asap.
Liverpool John Lennon needs a rail station.
Manchester airport and Liverpool John Lennon need fast rail links between them to link the airports. Liverpool is better suited for large planes which can fly over a wide estuary.
Manchester needs a thru station as the city is between Liverpool and Leeds.
The rail east of Liverpool’s centre needs merging with the west by reopening the Wapping tunnel, which will take local and regional rail away from long haul Lime St (could be on NPR).
Warrington needs to be on NPR.
Work to the above priorities, then an excellent solution will emerge.

By John

A massive new transport project is being proposed, but it mostly benefits Manchester. This project focuses on a high-speed rail link that reduces travel time between Liverpool and Manchester Airport. However, it does little to improve connections within Liverpool itself or to other destinations like Yorkshire.

The problem is that this project prioritizes expensive extras for Manchester, like an underground station and a tunnel, that were previously scrapped as part of HS2 Phase 2. These frills come at the cost of £17 billion that could be used for far more beneficial projects in Liverpool.

Imagine what Liverpool could achieve with its fair share of this money! Tram lines, additional Merseyrail stations, or even a proper rapid bus system could be built. Even more modest improvements, like further new Merseyrail station or electrifying the Borderlands or CLC line via Warrington, would bring far greater advantages to Liverpool than this Manchester-centric scheme.

There’s a good chance these plans will never see the light of day, especially with a new Labour government facing tight budgets. But until they’re officially scrapped, they’ll continue to divert resources away from better transport solutions that could truly benefit both cities.

Manchester pushing for this project shows a lack of consideration for Liverpool’s needs. It’s equally disappointing that Liverpool’s own authorities supported these plans instead of advocating for projects that better serve their own citizens.

By Graham Henderson

To get from Liverpool to Leeds you on a tour of Cheshire! Madness.
City centre to city centre traffic matters as that is where the heavy passenger traffic is, not going on a Cheshire tour via an airport.

By Anonymous

This seems to be a trojan horse for Manchester to revive their end of HS2 under the next government. How Liverpool benefits isn’t clear but Steve R and co have fallen for it.

By Anonymous

@Salfordian The ‘new’ railway would not use the existing north-south platforms at Bank Quay. It would recreate the east-west platforms on the low level line that was used for coal trains until Fiddler’s Ferry Power Station shut. The new route should be quicker for passengers between Bank Quay and Piccadilly than the current Eccles route.

By Albert

I’m from Manchester, and even before looking at the comments, the first thing I was thinking about is what a bad deal this is for Liverpool Airport. As a starter should be rail connection to liverpool airport from liverpool city centre. Secondly liverpool airport to manchester airport direct trains should be brought in.

By Anonymous

How about something for Liverpool Airport and improving access, why is it all about Manchester Airport ( which is pretty awful let’s be honest) . A tram or light rail is needed to link Liverpool John Lennon, it’s growing and Transport to it needs to too.

By Carl Spurling

Where is the improvement to Liverpool Airport’s transport needs here ? Manchester Airport already has rail and tram. Liverpool John Lennon needs some investment now.

By Alan Gent

@Graham Henderson
Some good points.
All Manchester needs is a thru station on NPR. This will solve the Castlefield corridor bottleneck. The thru station is best at Victoria. The thru station then benefits the whole of the north as Manchester can be bypassed leaving their rail lines to Manchester traffic.
Liverpool’s rail has been neglected big time over the past 45 years. The metro was not finished with miles of tunnel under the city complete with an underground burrowing junction built and not used south of Central, and miles of trackbed. This needs completing asap.
All Liverpool needs is fast connections to Manchester and Leeds, the rest of its problems can mainly be done by upgrading the Merseyrail metro for passengers and greater and electrified freight access to its huge port – which benefits the whole of the North and beyond.

By John

Dear Julia

Can you or one of your colleagues please ask Steve Rotheram why he is backing a railway link from Liverpool to Manchester airport when the city of Liverpool is crying out for better transport links to Liverpool airport? Is he serving the needs of his constituents or those of his pal, Andy Burnham? Thanks

By Roy

    Hi Roy – I’ve put the question to the mayor’s team and will report back when I have a response.

    By Julia Hatmaker

Just leave it alone

By Eric

It does look, yet again, like Rotheram, and the LCR, playing second fiddle to the King of the North, and what best suits GM.
It also looks like MCC still has tremendous difficulty shifting its position once it has set its mind on something. If HS2 isn’t coming, and MCC is to have one big and hugely expensive infrastructure ask of an incoming Labour Government, digging a giant hole next to Piccadilly for no clear reason seems an odd one.
It is difficult to understand the complete lack of interest in something like a Pic-Vic underground line beyond the need to always do things differently,

By Sir Topham Hatt

Sad that the focus is on Central Station. The area around Central is already very busy whereas Moorfields Station is massively underused. Had the proposal been to use the Waterloo Tunnel instead of Wapping we could have shifted some of the development towards the Commercial District which needs it more than Central.

By Graham Brandwood

A rail or tram link from Lime Street to JLA, please.

By Mark

Steve loves to tell us about his objectives in making a World Class Liverpool City Region, and yet he’s creating a 2nd class airport, 2nd class transport links, and a 2nd class region. He says we’ve got a world class cultural offering but we’ve got a small arena now and no massive culture and arts centre.
This rail plan will mean we come out with relative scraps, while his big mate consumes the lion’s share of the financial package.

By Anonymous

So everyone in Liverpool has to go to Lime Street to connect with this train, that then by passes LJLA on its way to Manchester.
Why can’t there be a link to LJLA, seems that we have the rough end of the stick, thanks for nothing Steve.

By Liverpolitis

Wow looks like great news for the North West despite the parochial moaning of the usual miseries in the comments. Bring it on !

By Anonymous

History is indeed being made for Manchester. Why is Steve Rotherham not representing his own city region better. Why is he not promoting our airport, instead backing links to Manchster and improving its transport infrastructure ? Little wonder Andy Burham is grinning.

By Stephen Davis.

Great news for Manchester Airport. It’s going to make the journey from Liverpool to Manchester Airport cheaper and easier. A fortune for transport investment is on the table. Is Steve Rotherham lobbying for a share of this vast sum to provide a rail link to our own airport ? This is a once in a life time opportunity to get a rail link to Liverpool John Lennon Airport. We need to see huge city wide backing for this.

By Stephen Davis.

A Liverpool Manchester railway board? Why, it’s like the 1840,s all over again. Next they’ll be digging some kind of navigable waterway funded by Climate targets in order to transport the majority of ……wait a minute 🤔. I’ll just give that CV a polish.

By Thomas Walker

WC Fields said, ……Never give a sucker an even break,………… check it out Steve and reflect about the rail package you’ve agreed to here.

By Anonymous

Hi Julia, What is the reaction of LJLA and Liverpool Chamber of Commerce?
Thank you.

By Liverpolitis

The announcement is absolutely to be welcomed, as there has been far too much noise about the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ without anything at all to back it up, but has it been specified exactly what the route is? I appreciate it would anger the cyclists and dog walkers, but it seems to me there’s a perfect pre existing route, through Warrington; the TPT.


Most of Manchester Airport’s customers from Liverpool live between the airport and Liverpool city centre. Are people really going to get a bus or train west into the city to go east? A family with luggage is going to do that rather than pile in a taxi?

By Eastwood

Andy Burham was indeed right when he announced “History is truly being made this morning “. His plans have been outlined. How is the £17 billion to be distributed ? It appears he is sensibly targeting the majority of this investment for growth in Greater Manchester, and reports suggest Steve Rotherham is unsensively backing him. There is a huge pot here that could deliver a trainline to Liverpool Airport. I hope Mr Rotherham supports this. Liverpool Airport, and all of the Liverpool City Region should be lobbying loudly for this while the money is up for grabs. The transport infrastructure in Greater Manchester is far superior to in Liverpool. We have a lot of catching up to do, and a fair share of this investment would help to achieve this. This new line should run from Liverpool Airport to Manchester via Liverpool Central and on to the proposed route via Warrington. This deal appears to be very good for growth and investment in Manchester with Liverpool once again trailing a poor second. I read Lufthansa has just ceased services from Liverpool Airport. We wonder why ! This trend could continue if Liverpool Airport faces a long term future with very poor transport links, as Manchester gets the investment and goes from strength to strength. Overall, this appears a very poor deal for the Liverpool City Region.

By Stephen Davis.

As a Manchester resident I always book my holidays from Liverpool or Leeds-Bradford, it’s more expensive but a far better experience

By Anonymous

Liverpool JL needs a lot more flights if it is to get a direct train line.

By Sandgrounder

Oh Steve always backs Burnham and what’s best for down the M62 he does absolutely nothing to support Liverpool City Region his own council leaders strongly appose the growth of its own airport ??
This is where Liverpool is atm .

By Anonymous

@Graham Brandwood
Neither of the two tunnels under Liverpool’s centre, 1.25 mile long Wapping and over miles long Waterloo will NOT be used. The Wapping tunnel can run into Central using a largely unused burrowing junction south of Central built to link into the Wapping tunnel complete with header tunnels in place to connect.
What stands out is that under this scheme, centre to centre journey times will be no faster than now as the train takes a needless long tour of Cheshire.

By Anonymous

Superb transport links certainly encourage business. Manchester continues to wisely understand and develop this. If Liverpool Airport had a trainline connection I believe the number of passengers and carriers would consequently increase. I live in Liverpool City centre. If this 25 minute, rapid connection is built to Manchester Airport and we still rely on buses and cabs to Liverpool Airport, I know the option myself and others are likely to prefer. The train line to Liverpool Central passes within a couple of miles east of the airport. A very short rail link from the airport to Hunts Cross or Liverpool South Parkway needs to be built. A sum of this £17 billion should be allocated to build it. There is too much emphasis on the Manchester end of this scheme. Steve Rotherham needs to lead a rethink that delivers for Liverpool too.

By Stephen Davis.

Appreciate you have to start somewhere with this, but surely the focus should be on enhancing rail capacity and connectivity between Leeds and Manchester, the core of the railway network in the north of England and by far its weakest link.

By Anonymous

Most of this project is at concept stage and still moving around. The line, strategic case and money is sorted. The connection to LJL is an 8km diversion from existing line. 2/3 of this line is already in situ so i’d imagine it has a very good investment case due to latent infrastructure and existing land ownerships. Liverpool should be the net beneficiary just need to use this newly formed group to form an investment zone around the airport and sort the rail link. It a small change request to link the 2nd and 6th largest conurbations in the country and as much about economic growth as it is about transport. Give Rotherham a break – it will get sorted in the next 6 months when design feasibility catches up with announcements etc.

By Anonymous

But if Liverpool got more flights then it would get too busy to be seen as the nice alternative

By I'm like, so confused right now!

Surely 18m sq ft of offices at Warrington is a typo. 1.8m perhaps?


    Hi HSR – I checked this figure again with the press release that followed this morning and the photo of the slides I snapped at the event, and can confirm the council has said that the plans for the rail line could create 1.7m sqm of grade A office space. We use sq ft at Place, and the conversion of 1.7m sqm to sq ft is 18m sq ft. I’ve gone back to the council for an additional confirmation just in case they meant sq ft instead of sqm.

    By Julia Hatmaker

I have never seen so many comments on an article, clearly a lot of concern about these proposed transport projects. I think there is a need for the editors to interview Steve Rotherham and ask him to respond and explain why the rail link to the airport isn’t possible

By George

    This has been noted, George!

    By Julia Hatmaker

I’m pretty sure it is 1.8m sq ft (and not metres) phased over 30 year period. Error in press release.

By Anonymous

    Hi Anonymous – thanks, as mentioned before I’ve reached out to the council to triple check. I will update as soon as I hear back.

    By Julia Hatmaker

All the major cities of the north need to be connected by reliable high speed railway it begs the question why high speed trains should call at airports which incur longer dwell times to unload, airport services should have fast dedicated services with luggage facilities from main stations, something has to be done fairly quickly as the present Victorian engineered system is feeling it’s age

By The NORTH for all of us

I think the easy / obvious answer as to why Liverpool Airport doesn’t merit huge public investment in a dedicated rail link is because it doesn’t handle many passengers. It’s the same reason there’s no dedicated rail link to Leeds-Bradford airport or Blackpool airport; there’s essentially no business case when there are much better alternative uses for scarce public resources.

By contrast, Manchester Airport was handling almost 14m passengers by the time it had its own rail link.

By Mr Investment Appraisal

This rail line desperately needs to go via Liverpool Airport. Lots of touristss who arrive at JLA are suprised to find there’s no rail link. This is a once-in-a -entury chance to fix this glaringly obvious issue.

By LordLiverpool

A lot of comments yes albeit half of them from the same person! I’m not convinced any of this will happen tbh but I hope I’m wrong.

By Anonymous

Utter nonsense

By Sid

Liverpool Airport needs a rail link, this should be the priority for Rotheram. JLA is much better to fly from than Manchester, it’s much quicker and I use it regularly. It’s absurd that it isn’t better connected and this should be Liverpool’s priority.

By Liverpolitan

Just asking. Is saving 10 minutes by train between Liv – Man thirty miles apart really so important? Please bear in mind the time to get to and from city-center stations. If ten minutes was crucial you would not go via Cheshire. But if from city-center Liverpool you need to fly via MAP on business or holiday to places not served by LAP, is leaving home or office half an hour earlier really too much to handle? Just asking. Why not run non-stop expresses between LIV Lime St – MAN Piccadilly – Man Airport and save those 15 minutes? Just asking.

By Anonymous

Liverpool is a major port handling massive container ships and general cargoes, does the Government see it as a place that merits financial input for upgraded, fast, modern rail links…….you guessed it, NO.

By Anonymous

The trains are fine, they are just too expensive, I work in Manchester but would love to live in Liverpool for the standard of living but I can’t pay that train fee every day

By Anonymous

In response to various comments above (such as Anonymous Just Asking) – it’s NOT principally about journey time. You COULD run repeated fast services on the Chat Moss line, but then there would be no room for the stopping services or freight.

The rail infrastructure between Liverpool and Manchester is full. What kills capacity more than anything else is a mix of fast and slow trains (because you need a long gap after the slow train – otherwise the fast train just crawls along behind it).
The solution to this is a new, fast line. Then you can run high frequency fast trains, and run more frequent slow trains on the remaining network.
You get:
High frequency fast trains connecting the cities and the airport.
A high frequency suburban service for both cities.
More paths for freight.
Increased reliability.

By John

If Liverpool can build a rail line to Manchester airport, why can’t Manchester a line to Liverpool Airport? And if Manchester can build a tunnel to their Airport, thenwhy can’t Liverpool build a tunnel from Central Station

By George

We don’t need this fast dogleg to Manchester Airport just fast links to Central Mcr and beyond, Gatwick Airport handles over 40 million passengers a year and gets by with stoppers and the Gatwick Express.
Most people getting airports use cars,coaches , and cabs, for those wanting the train there are already lines from Mcr and Lpool.
Nice Airport is a busy place but gets by with a tram link, plus coaches and cars.

By Anonymous

I live in Liverpool but love visiting Manchester, I get so bored of what’s on offer here.
Anything to help me get to Manchester quicker and more often gets a big fat YES from me.

By Kiss Kiss Bang Bang Chicken Lickin

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