City leaders to create Liverpool-Manchester rail board

A major new rail board will be created aimed at increasing rail capacity between Liverpool and Manchester.

Following their resounding re-elections as Metro Mayors for the Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester in this month’s local elections, Steve Rotheram and Andy Burnham are pressing ahead with the creation of a new public-private Liverpool-Manchester Railway Board that could boos rail links between the two city regions.

The Labour mayors received confirmation from government that options can now be considered to bolster the corridor between Liverpool and Manchester following the scrapping of HS2 last year.

Now the LDRS understands the pair have recruited the services of major allies to get the plans in motion, with a view to coinciding with the 200th anniversary of the world’s first passenger railway in Rainhill in 2029.

After the government announced plans to do away with the major high-speed rail project, Mr Rotheram and Mr Burnham were invited to advise on the best solution for improved connectivity between the two cities as part of the Northern Powerhouse Rail scheme, which will continue in its place.

Mr Rotheram said he was opposed to upgrades to existing freight lines rather than promises of new twin track lines across the Liverpool City Region and beyond.

Huw Merriman MP, rail minister, confirmed to Mr Rotheram that the government was willing to consider alternatives to the existing West Coast Main Line and station options for the city moving forward.

Mr Rotheram said, “For too long, passengers across the North have been forced to put up with a second-class rail service. Rather than accepting cheap and nasty solutions, I’ve fought our area’s corner and forced the government back to the drawing board.

“Our two regions were railway pioneers and we’ve already shown in the Liverpool City Region how publicly-run transport delivers a much better service for passengers and taxpayers alike. We’ll continue that proud tradition by working to establish a new publicly operated Liverpool-Manchester link, putting Labour values at the heart of our railways.”

The LDRS understands that Cllr Liam Robinson, leader of Liverpool Council, and Cllr Bev Craig, leader in Manchester, will join the board alongside their Labour colleagues with a view to getting the line up and running in five years’ time. The railway will link Investment Zones in Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester via Warrington and Manchester Airport.

Mr Burnham added, “The first railway line in the world was created here 200 years ago and we can now bring one forward 200 years later, actually that can have high ambitions as well, because the government has finally listened and they’ve opened the possibility of a line up between the two cities.”

Image: Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram at Rainhill station

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