Mayor clashes with Cameron over HS3

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Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson (pic © JMU Journalism); Prime Minister David Cameron (pic © Wikipedia/Creative Commons)

Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson (pic © JMU Journalism); Prime Minister David Cameron (pic © Wikipedia/Creative Commons)

Mayor Joe Anderson hit out at Prime Minister David Cameron today over why Liverpool has missed out on the country’s new multi-billion pound high speed rail plans.

The High Speed 2 (HS2) railway project announced last year had already left the city in the cold and new proposals for a northern connectivity plan – dubbed ‘HS3’ – were unveiled by Sir David Higgins, the Executive Chairman of the scheme, mapping out a route from Manchester to Leeds – but again not involving Liverpool.

When PM Cameron invited audience members at Leeds Civic Hall to ask questions at the official announcement, Mayor Anderson queried why Liverpool had been left out of the HS3 blueprint.

He warned Mr Cameron: “It is not sensible to ignore Liverpool and Hull links. This should be about making sure we are all connected, not having two Norths – those who are connected and those who aren’t. I think you are missing a real opportunity here.”

In his response, the Prime Minister told Anderson: “On the issue of making sure everyone between Liverpool and Hull benefits; by increasing the capacity and speed between Leeds and Manchester, it benefits all east and west travel. Don’t think that because they aren’t in HS2 and HS3 it means there aren’t other plans.

“I’ve seen what’s happening in Liverpool with the growth of the docks and it’s really impressive.”

Officials claim that Liverpool will receive subsidiary benefits from the high speed rail links, but one criticism of the existing project is the lack of northern connectivity in the previous £50 billion HS2 scheme. This will see a Y-shaped route from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds.

A report by One North claimed HS3 could create a ‘northern Powerhouse’ and give the region the same benefits of HS2 at a fraction of the cost.

Crewe has been selected to be the ‘North West Hub’ with high speed network links with Stoke-on-Trent, Warrington, Liverpool and North Wales. The new superhub is aimed at being operational by 2027 and will produce an estimated 64,000 jobs, boosting the North West’s economic output by as much as £3.5 billion per year.

HS2 train © Network Rail

HS2 train © Network Rail

Joe Rukin, Campaign Manager of Stop HS2, has criticised the plans and claims the majority of the public do not agree with Sir David’s scheme, saying only 10% of people think HS2 would be good for the environment and the real benefits will be to London and the surrounding areas.

He said: “Sir David Higgins is misleading people, scaremongering, and destroying his own argument all at the same time. Saying that without HS2 more housing will be needed in the South East is an admission that HS2 has nothing to do with helping regenerate Northern and Midland economies, but is all about getting more commuters into London.”

Chancellor George Osborne has said the HS3 is the biggest ever collective investment by any government in the North of England. He added: “We are confident we’ve got the right route and the right stations.”

The Chancellor also said the plans will make sure the majority of involvement is from the North.

Although the UK government has backed HS3, there are still no definite cost figures yet for HS2, prompting further questions. A full report is due to be announced in March 2015 with a more detailed assessment.

About Katie Dodson, JMU Journalism