Calls for HS2 rail line to extend

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Local councillors and MPs are calling on the Government’s recently-announced high-speed rail line to be extended to include Liverpool on its route.

The Government proposed a new 120-mile high-speed rail connection between London and Birmingham. The ‘High Speed 2’ (HS2) will cut journey times significantly, with a planned second phase of the network extending to Manchester and Leeds in the north of England.

However, a number of councillors and MPs from Merseyside want the estimated £30 billion infrastructure project to be expanded to link up with Liverpool.

Wirral West MP Esther McVey said on her website: “If we want to grow our economy and close the north south-gap then a strong, fast, reliable transport network is vital.”

The Conservative MP has cross-party support , with Labour city councillor Paul Brant telling JMU Journalism: “HS2 is vital for the regeneration and connectivity for Liverpool. I only hope the Government ensure that the city is connected to the line.”

Liberal Democrat Councillor Paula Keaveney echoed that sentiment, as she told JMU Journalism: “Liverpool Liberal Democrats fully support the suggestion that HS2 should go to Liverpool.”

The first phase of the route between London and Birmingham has already been approved, and should be running by 2026. It is expected to cut the journey time from London to Birmingham from 84 minutes to 49 minutes. The second phase consultation will begin in early 2014, and the route is expected to be ready by 2033 on the current plans, but currently that is without Liverpool being on the route.

There is some opposition to the idea from the Liverpool Green Party, who don’t support HS2 in the first place for environmental reasons.

Green Councillor John Coyne told JMU Journalism: “HS2 is bad for Liverpool as it cements the relative advantage of Manchester over Liverpool as the better North West location for any business that thinks it will need faster links to London. Even if a Liverpool spur could be created, Liverpool would still be less well served than Manchester on the main line.”

About James Routledge, JMU Journalism