Reaction to proposed new Liverpool – Manchester rail line

Commuters have had their say on a proposed new high-speed rail link between Liverpool and Manchester.

Should they be returned to their roles as Mayors of the Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Steve Rotheram and Andy Burnham have unveiled plans for a new public-private Liverpool-Manchester Railway Board that could further increase rail capacity between the two city regions.

The Labour pair hope to see progress on the project to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the world’s first passenger railway in Rainhill in 2029.

Now passengers have fed back on the campaign pledge with mixed views.

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 stead.

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.

Posting on Facebook, one user said, “Try starting with regular, Rainhill used to have three trains an hour. Then work your way up to reliable because the service is frequently cancelled, before being over election ambitious with high speed talk between Liverpool and Manchester.

“Right now when the trains are off, if the M62 is clear, it’s 30 minutes from my front door to the Manchester arena car park which is also attached to Manchester Victoria station.”

Mr Rotheram, seeking a third term as Metro Mayor, said previous government plans would have meant a possible cessation of services at Lime Street to find a way to deliver more trains despite it already “being at capacity now”.

One passenger questioned where a new site would be in Liverpool. They said, “It’s already down to 35 mins to Manchester Victoria, plus it’s hard to see where a new city centre station could be located. At the end of the Waterloo/Victoria tunnels at Byrom Street?”

The plans were backed by one user who said, “The point of the new line isn’t so much to speed up the journey, but to improve the reliability and frequency. Right now those 37 minute journeys have to use the oldest railway line on the planet. That feeds into a network where it shares with all the other express, regional, local and freight trains and together that causes huge delays, cancellations etc.

“The idea is to have a completely new, modern, separate line which will not only afford a much more reliable service because it will exclusively use those tracks, it will also allow the existing line to be used for far more local services, improving it for everyone. The new line will also offer a new service connecting central Liverpool and Manchester via the Airport with far higher frequencies and yes, it will even be a bit faster.

“It’s also designed to be future proofed, to allow for extending to Bradford, Leeds and maybe even Sheffield. It was originally planned to connect directly to HS2, but with that cancelled, they are now looking for an alternative to connect to that. When that happens, it will free up the entire North West rail infrastructure.

“So actually, there are a lot of good reasons for it.”

One commenter added that a look at other transport options should be considered, “Don’t need high speed link just need buses that are not late or cancelled.”

Image: Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram at Rainhill station

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