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High speed rail - what is it good for?

Liverpool should demand compensation, says Larry Neild

Written by . Published on January 28th 2013.

High speed rail - what is it good for?

BEWARE of Coalition politicians bearing gifts, especially when that gift is a train set. 

Trainspotter twins David Cameron and Nick Clegg say bringing 250mph trains to the north will create tens of thousands of new jobs. 

The other issue is promised jobs for the North West. But in which direction? HS2 will bring London into regular commuting distance for northerners, perhaps creating a regional brain drain

Depending on who you talk to, it's great news for Liverpool. But shunt the debate into an Edge Hill siding and a different picture emerges. 

Today’s announcement hails a proposal to build the new HS2 line from Birmingham to Manchester, with a separate leg up to Leeds. 

Trains from Manchester to London will have a journey time of just over an hour. Liverpool misses out big time. Trains from Lime Street will use the existing West Coast line as far as Crewe and then pick up the HS2 line from there, with a city-to-city journey time of 1hr 36 mins – not much faster than the current trains. 

The proposal will see a new station along the HS2 route to serve Manchester Airport – and that could be bad news for Liverpool John Lennon Airport. It will make Manchester a much more attractive hub airport, with the new rail link and station an attractive draw. We’ll probably be still seeing people lug their luggage off trains at Liverpool South Parkway to catch the 80 to Speke. 

A new rail link is essential, but it is obvious there will be winners and losers. Rather than city fathers welcoming HS2 they should be demanding a goody bag to compensate for what we won’t have. 


For Manchester it will be like winning a lottery rollover. As well as the boost for the airport, the city’s industry and economy will reap rewards of being one of the main centres of a trans-European high-speed network. 

Even the Port of Manchester will enjoy a new gold rush. Imagine cargo being trained at high speed to Manchester, to be loaded onto barges up the ship canal for the journey to Seaforth to be loaded onto the super-size container ships for North America.  A handful of jobs for crane drivers at Seaforth and that’s it. 

Liverpool should be demanding, as a consolation prize, a dedicated rail link to Seaforth so freight can be transported across the UK. The existing West Coast line could be a vital national freight link. 

At Crewe, trains on the HS2 line from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds and Manchester will share the link down to Birmingham,  making it a busy line from day one.   It is hard to see anything other than an hourly or two hourly service from Liverpool, perhaps with some trains from Lime Street continuing to use the ‘scenic route’  the old West Coast line, all the way to Euston. 

The other issue is promised jobs for the North West. But in which direction? HS2 will bring London into regular commuting distance for northerners, perhaps creating a regional brain drain. 

It is ironic that Liverpool, birthplace of the modern railway age, could become a city at the end of a branch line. 

If HS2 is completed in 2030, it would make a fitting anniversary to celebrate the opening in 1830 of the Liverpool to Manchester Railway, paid for by Liverpool entrepreneurs to become the first inter-city railway in the world.

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

AnonymousJanuary 28th 2013.

Liverpool can carve out a new future for itself as a Thomas the Tank Engine theme park city. On the ball Manchester has been plugging away for two years and gets the reward of two stations. Liverpool must have got derailed somewhere along the way.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 30th 2013.

The reality in Northern City politics is that some cities get their acts together and others don't. York were pissing all over Sheffield and Leeds in the early days of the RDAs. Pissing over them. Packed the decision-making bodies with their own people, always got the first projects. Always. Manchester was doing likewise in the NWDA. When I worked on a project with Liverpool University, we made a good proposal and it got funded.

Stop whingeing, come up with a top notch proposal to whizz Merseysiders to Crewe's new station and get the thing built.

V. I. Lenin AirportFebruary 7th 2013.


Surely the journey on the current direct train from Lime Street to Euston would be less than any train with a change at Crewe.
Why would anyone want to use the time the 220mph HS2 saves by wandering about Crewe Station and standing about on windswept platforms waiting for a connecting train (if they haven't missed it already)?
Oh but I forgot, they'll be taking our direct WCML trains away, just after £9billion of taxpayers' money has been spent upgrading it!
You couldn't make this stuff up!

John BradleyFebruary 7th 2013.

The trains to CRewe on HS2 with be "Classic compatible" you will not need to change at Crewe.

AnonymousJanuary 28th 2013.

On the ball? They didn't have to be on the ball. They were GIVEN the link without asking, like they got all of other unearned goodies from London in the past.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 29th 2013.

oh dear here we go again Manchester gets everything and we get nothing - for gawd's sake give the whinging and whining a rest, please!

AnonymousJanuary 28th 2013.

Is freight ever carried at high speed? if speed were of such importance then the cargo would simply be flown to america straight from Heathrow. A key advantage of HSR on new lines is that it frees the old likes up for cargo, taking lorries off the road. environmental win.

Perhaps Liverpool entrepreneurs should get to work on a new high speed link to manchester. A HS3 line linking Liverpool-Manchester-Leeds-Hull. For the northern cities to thrive, being linked to each other is surely more important than being linked to London.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
John BradleyJanuary 28th 2013.

Does need to be HS3 a decent 140mph line from Holyhead/Liverpool to Hull would do the business. docs.google.com/…/edit…

AnonymousJanuary 30th 2013.

You need both. The North needs to develop financial independence from London as the SE is all for itself and damn the world.

An economic cell of the North of England and Scotland, what with all the shale gas, hydroelectric power, wave potential and North Sea Oil could stick two elephant sized tusks up London's backside.

But you shouldn't let the Big Smoke stop you having a link to Europe via HS1.

AnonymousJanuary 29th 2013.

Cant fathom why Lary thinks people would rush their cargo to manchester on HS2 to then unload it, laod it and put it on a slow as a snail barge to bring it the last 30miles to seaforth, to unload it again.

1 Response: Reply To This...
L AshworthJanuary 29th 2013.

I can

AnonymousJanuary 29th 2013.

All the manchester baiting is just misleading rot. Manchester is bigger than liverpool with a bigger airport it makes sense to put it on the HS2 network.

If you want to ask the why not liverpool question then a much much better comparison to make would be why leeds not liverpool? or why nottingham? Liverpool would have a much stronger case for HS2 when compared to these citys.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousApril 24th 2013.

Manchester city is not bigger than Liverpool. Gtr Manchester is bigger than Merseyside because they whittled down Merseyside in the 1960s when planning the Met districts. Merseyside does not even cover all of the estuary or Skem or Ormskirk. A disgrace. They also insisted Liverpool was not in the title.

Manchester' economy is no dynamo at all. Liverpool's economy is growing faster than all but London. It also has the post-panamax container terminal, the massive Liverpool 
; Wirral Waters, the Mersey gateway bridge at Widnes, the expanding tourist industry, and the expanding cruise liner business. No other provincial city has this level of expansion.

All this points to Liverpool having HS2 to the door. Also Manchester is drab city with only the town hall as a notable building.

AnonymousApril 24th 2013.

You have to ask the question why Manchester and not Liverpool?

AnonymousJanuary 29th 2013.

I agree with the Manchester comment. Is the reason Leeds and Nottingham have been picked purely because they are more central?

John L AirportJanuary 29th 2013.

I'm not so much bothered about the "why not Liverpool" question as what Liverpool will get in recompense.

4 Responses: Reply To This...
Malcolm HandleyJanuary 29th 2013.

Recompense? What for? Nothing has been taken away from Liverpool. It just didn't get the HST2 and niether did a lot of other places - so why should Liverpool get recompense - stop thinking we are the centre of the world.

John L AirportJanuary 29th 2013.

I suggest you read the article Malcolm

V. I. Lenin AirportFebruary 5th 2013.

Apparently were are to lose at least some of our direct trains to London to make "savings" to pay towards runningthe HS2.
(Actually, has anyone announced how expensive the fares will be on this plutocrats' express?)

AnonymousApril 24th 2013.

Liverpool does not need compensation. It needs HS2 to the door.

SaladDazeJanuary 29th 2013.

A pity David Cameron's father didn't get off at Edge Hill.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Only in LiverpoolJanuary 29th 2013.

That's the best observation I have read all week

Paul WardJanuary 29th 2013.

Brilliant :)

mickeydrippin'January 29th 2013.

It is said that, economically, Liverpool is the fastest growing city outside London. Therefore Joe Anderson, his Council cronies and local MPs now need to get their fingers out and prove to Cameron & Co. that we need transport links that are equivalent to, or even better than, Manchester. Perhaps improving the present railway line between Lime Street and Crewe would be a starter.

AnonymousJanuary 29th 2013.

We are the so-called 'fastest growing economy' outside London because this city is starting from a very low base line. If you look at the economic wealth of major UK cities we are not top at all. Manchester Chamber of Commerce says Manchester's economy will earn a billion pounds because of HS2. It is not sour grapes or anything, but if Liverpool is left behind (as it will be) we'll all suffer. We just don't have enough councillors and business leaders in Liverpool to 'smell the coffee' and realise what is happening. They should be out there kicking and screaming rather than read glossy spin reports telling them how wonderful they are. Talks about emperors new clothes.

5 Responses: Reply To This...
John BradleyJanuary 29th 2013.

Part of the problem is that Manchester means Greater Manchester whilst Liverpool does not mean Merseyside. If Merseyside had an elected Mayor or Transport Commissioner they would have more weight.

Only in LiverpoolJanuary 29th 2013.


John BradleyJanuary 29th 2013.

I know but I resisted.

AnonymousApril 24th 2013.

HSBC commissioned a study of the future of cities. They revisited the study 1
months ago. They said in 20 years time he UK will have 7 super-cities:

1. London

2. Liverpool

3. Glasgow

4. Leeds

5. Newcastle

6. Brighton

7. Bristol

Manchester was not in the list.



So why is this bland ex mill town city getting HMG preferential treatment? That is what you need to ask? It is clearly not their economy.

AnonymousApril 24th 2013.

Starting from a low base is meaningless. The fact is that Liverpool's economy growing faster than all the rest in a depression. It also will grow far more than the others. Liverpool and Wirral Waters and the cruise liners at berth at the Three Graces will attract commerce. Liverpool is an attractive city and the scope to make it better is enormous. Attractive cities attract people.

Andy MeliaJanuary 29th 2013.

With all the predictable delays, we'll all be too old to use it by the time it's built.

Rhys JaggarJanuary 30th 2013.

So build a Maglev from somewhere in town, via John Lennon airport, to Crewe.

Make it 15 mins or 20 mins tops. As quick as possible.

Then you are linked in.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
Tim MobbsFebruary 2nd 2013.

good idea, I'd even thought of that one myself, but thought it too far fetched. You could build it over the Mersey from the City Centre to JLA - there's hardly any shipping to Garston Docks now!!!

V. I. Lenin AirportFebruary 5th 2013.

Why don't we have direct HOTOL flights from Speke Airport? Sydney in 35 minutes! That'll show the London worshippers!

John BradleyFebruary 7th 2013.

Hotol was cancelled about 20+ years ago. Now it is Skylon fraction orbit to Aus 45+.

Tim MobbsJanuary 31st 2013.

I have to ask where were all the Liverpool "leaders of Commerce" and the Merseyside Politicians, who spouted off how good we are and how a 'Y' to Liverpool on HS2 would serve the County! They've all gone very quiet now!

I think the 'whinging' [as accused by some] is justified, as the ramifications could be huge when you look at what Larry Neild has written above.

With all the proposed £Billions Waterfront developments on both sides of the river, HS2 would have come into line at just the right time - especially if you could provide a direct link to Europe.

Admittedly the rail infrastructure via Runcorn and South Liverpool isn't ideal, but not that long ago, trains ran direct from Birkenhead to London. A large station directly underneath the City Centre, a tunnel out via east Wirral on existing rail beds through Chester and onto Crew would be a major project, [isn't it all?], but doable!! :-)

carl hinesJanuary 31st 2013.

But Tim, you are assuming that our city leaders have vision, daring and imagination, instead of being in the grip of Peel and their imaginary dockland city which probably will never happen when we are all back in nappies.

6 Responses: Reply To This...
Tim MobbsJanuary 31st 2013.

Agreed Carl, :-) It's like having a direct link [other than a bus] to the airport - all talk, no action!! They are there when all the 'hype' is going on, but i've not heard/read one single statement about failing to secure a good international travel link to our supposed 'fast growing' City!!

John BradleyJanuary 31st 2013.

I've suggested before a Merseyside+ Transport commissioner to address the problems of lack of vision. Hopefully it would attract someone who wanted to make a name for themselves and would allow them to get things done rather than Merseytravel which just provided a sinecure for dodgy old councillors.
They would have to stand for re election on a far simpler easily measurable set of objectives. No playing of success in one area against another.

V. I. Lenin AirportFebruary 5th 2013.

Elections make them accountable but will encourage them to think no furher ahead than the next election.

John BradleyFebruary 6th 2013.

That only really works if being Commissionaire is the heigh of their ambition, if it someone who wants to make a name for themselves as then they be think about the reputation they take. I'd given then 8 years per election to reflect the longer term nature of the environment.

V. I. Lenin AirportFebruary 7th 2013.

That's aiming low!

The Commissionaire holds the door open which is why they are usually retired servicemen.

John BradleyFebruary 7th 2013.

Well I meant commissioner. I think or commissar or something.

mickeydrippin'February 6th 2013.

One other thing that apparently has come to light is that, whilst Liverpool may get an increased frequency to London (some trains via Birmingham), the anticipated journey time via HS2 would be 1 hr. 36 mins. However, the proposed timings from Preston to London is 1 hr. 24 mins. Liverpool comes of worst of all!!!

1 Response: Reply To This...
John BradleyFebruary 6th 2013.

This can impart be tackled with upgrades to the WCML from Crewe. http://peterirate.blogspot.co.uk/

mickeydrippin'February 7th 2013.

John Bradley. Totally agree with you. At present, there is a long stretch of WCML between Weaver Junction and Winsford that is only double track where it would be ideal to add extra tracks. This would separate the Liverpool trains from those from Warrington and the north. However, I am not aware of any definite plans by Network Rail to carry out any improvements to this section.

7 Responses: Reply To This...
John BradleyFebruary 7th 2013.

If TPTB couldn't get a direct link they should have got guarantees of work to optimise the route we do get and they should have been part of the upcoming bill. There is still time but judging by the quiet they do not really care at all. Lack of foresight or lack of technical knowledge I don't know which but getting them to say we will ask for it is proving very difficult, getting any response is.

John BradleyFebruary 8th 2013.


John BradleyFebruary 8th 2013.

test 2

John BradleyFebruary 8th 2013.

test 4

John BradleyFebruary 8th 2013.

test 6

John BradleyFebruary 8th 2013.

test 7

John BradleyFebruary 8th 2013.

test 8

V. I. Lenin AirportFebruary 8th 2013.


10 Responses: Reply To This...
John BradleyFebruary 8th 2013.

Just seem to be having a problem with the site. When I use Reply To. Pops up as soon as you hit Post Reply but if I do a reload, the new comment disappears and doesn't come back till I empty the cache. Using FF but same on IE. OK on BB apparently.

John BradleyFebruary 13th 2013.

test 20a

John BradleyFebruary 13th 2013.

test 21a

John BradleyFebruary 15th 2013.


John BradleyFebruary 15th 2013.


John BradleyFebruary 15th 2013.


John BradleyFebruary 19th 2013.


John BradleyFebruary 19th 2013.

test 31

AnonymousApril 24th 2013.

test 144,9

AnonymousApril 24th 2013.

Damn...I lost count. I'll have to start again

test 1

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