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Fast track to Manchester?

But will Liverpool be railroaded in big train plans? Larry Neild waits and wonders

Published on February 22nd 2010.

Fast track to Manchester?

GIVEN the rivalry, and, in some cases, deep resentment, between Liverpool and our east Lancashire cousins in ever-so-slightly smaller Manchester, you would wonder why there’s a thirst to build a fast rail link between the two hissing cousins.

Logic tells me a dog’s leg extension to Liverpool will not be a major priority.

Ever since George Stephenson won five hundred quid by entering the Rainhill Trials, the two Northern cities have been linked by an umbilical chord of solid steel.

Yet travelling, as some of us must, to the de-facto capital of North West England, journey times can be slow and carriages cramped to bursting. Indeed on some of the trains chugging between the two great cities you half expect woolleybacks from Earlestown boarding the trains with herds of sheep heading for Beeston cattle market. The “stopper” takes over an hour, probably not much better than the time taken by Victorian rail travellers.

So the announcement a shedload of cash is to be invested in rail infrastructure in the Manchester/Liverpool corridor is most welcome.

Massive rail projects in and around Manchester will pave the way for faster trains between the two.

Added to that is the exciting project for a high speed inter-city rail link, so fast when a train leaves Lime Street for the metropolis it will arrive the day before.

Leg one of the route will be between London and Birmingham, then onwards to Manchester, and north to Preston and Scotland. But logic tells me a dog’s leg extension to Liverpool will not be a major priority.

Liverpool business people will still have to mingle with the sheep and change at Manchester for the onward rapid journey to London, or travel on the scenic and serene slower route through the Cheshire countryside, battling for seats with rail anoraks.

The Conservatives, if some reports are to be believed, will shunt these exciting plans into the sidings if they get the keys to the door of No 10.

Strange then, that just a short while ago Chancellor-in-waiting George Osborne, the Rt Hon MP for the WAG constituency of Tatton, was waxing lyrical about the train journey between Liverpool and Manchester taking, wait for it, 10 minutes. That’s about the time you’d wait for an 86 bus after seeing the rear end of four of them sailing past your bus stop.

Osborne’s comments came when he was in Tokyo in 2006 sampling the 250mph ‘Maglev’ transport system.

My fear is Manchester will reap the lion’s share of the benefits of the proposed rail spending, making the Middle Mancdom the business and trade hub of the North, with London trains as frequent as those 86 buses in Liverpool. Liverpool will reap co-incidental benefits if the line through Newton le Willows is electrified. Yet some rail people wonder why the busier line through South Parkway and Warrington isn't getting electric trains.

In the early 1830s, Stephenson came to Liverpool and caused a storm with his Rocket. Unless Liverpool’s politicians give a Rocketing to the decision makers the city may end up as side-line on the 21st century rail map.

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11 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

MallardFebruary 22nd 2010.

Only DIRECT trains will get people out of their cars. Even a long drive to London for two people is cheaper and more convenient than the train service and these people don't have to put up with the hiss of personal stereos, screaming children and yobs of both sexes with their feet and rucksacks on the seats

ResignedFebruary 22nd 2010.

The 1960s was bad news all round for Liverpool.

WappingFebruary 22nd 2010.

I'm not sure what this article's about. Is it about the awful rail service between Manc and Lpool or is it just another load of piffle about rivalries?We need a modern rail service but we're not getting one. My friends in Manc and I use the bus (No. 060 from Norton St & Edge Lane), it's quicker than most of the trains and much more reliable. Quite comfy too, and cheap; straight into Chorlton St. with the odd brief stop in Salford. National coaches know how to serve the travelling public, the rail companies clearly don't.

LisaJKFebruary 22nd 2010.

I would move back home to the pool in an instant if the rail service wasn't such a pile of utter and overpriced shite, but my job is here and now I live/spend my wages here because of it!

ADFebruary 22nd 2010.

Sorry Laz but Middle Mancdom is already the business and trade hub of the North. The fast train would make it much easier for Liverpudlians to work over there and bring their wages back to spend here.

markthefotographerFebruary 22nd 2010.

What a snotty article. Where have you been for the last 15 years? Of course a new high-speed line should go to Manchester, it already is the business (and soon media) capital of the north whether you like it or not (which you clearly don't.) You only have to get on a train from Lime St to Euston any day of the week and see how compartively empty they are to the Piccadilly to Euston ones. So yes, I'm afraid you will have to hold your noses and share the same carriage as us "woolybacks".

SteamstressFebruary 22nd 2010.

There's talk of making the Liverpool to Manchester Railline a World Heritage Site. Here we are again living in the past rather than the future.

CarsAreCheaperFebruary 22nd 2010.

Train travel has to become much cheaper to entice people from their cars. This is what I can't understand - they want to encourage people to go to work by public transport, so to encourage this they charge a peak-time premium, thereby putting rail travel out of economic reach for many. Last week I travelled to London on a business trip, second class. The return ticket was £245. You should be able to buy cheap tickets on the train rather than getting riped off like this. Its ok saying let the train take the strain, but as far as your wallet is concerned the train will cause it to drain. OK its not poetry but you get the drift. We're told the higher fares are to pay for rail infrastructure, so surely (as in West Coast upgrade) so why, when the work is finished don't fares fall to their previous levels? Same logic as chippies putting up the price of chips when spuds cost more, but never reducing the cost when the price goes down.

DisillusionedFebruary 22nd 2010.

Whatever happened to the high-speed monorails, Fairey Rotodynes and cheap family helicopters we were promised in the 1960s?

DigFebruary 22nd 2010.

The train between Kirkby and Manchester Victoria is bordering on comical when the antiquated diesel engine starts up. Sounds like something from a bygone age that should be in a museum. When you travel on that train YOU ARE living the past. Bring back The Dockers Umbrella!!

TrainspotterFebruary 22nd 2010.

Liverpool and Manchester MUST be connected by fast trains for the sake of the North West. This project is more important than the egos of either city. Let's just get on with it.

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