A Northern Powerhouse without Liverpool is unthinkable. Perhaps the penny is dropping

A much awaited overhaul of rail infrastructure has been announced. It's now up to us to articulate our message to Government and city leaders.

Posted by Paul Cherpeau

Head of Business Engagement & Communications at Liverpool & Sefton Chambers of Commerce

Fri 20th, Mar

Today’s announcement from the DfT of a Northern Transport Strategy which proposes a radical overhaul of northern transport infrastructure is to be welcomed as a long-awaited step in the right direction albeit one that must not remain at conceptual stage.

It has long been our concern that Liverpool’s apparent exclusion from the proposed high speed rail map was a massive opportunity missed.

It is encouraging that these proposals now talk of a Northern Powerhouse that extends from Liverpool in the West to Hull and Newcastle in the East.

The Chancellor’s rhetoric during the budget was very much focussed on the Manchester and Leeds conurbations. Both cities have become the focus upon which the Northern Powerhouse is articulated by the coalition government; the Northern Transport Strategy outlined in today’s report suggests that Liverpool has the opportunity to become part of the solution.

Whilst investment in infrastructure may be more concentrated in improvements to the Leeds-Manchester road and rail network, we should not consider that a snub to Liverpool. The big bottleneck in our transpennine connection is in that area and if we as businesses want to get across the country by car or train, that is where the current link needs fixing.

fact that a high speed link between Liverpool and Manchester is explicitly highlighted as a potential development would go some way towards mitigating the wider connectivity of Liverpool to the wider UK rail network.

Our port city status should be critical to the UK’s strategy for the North and a faster and more robust connection to the Eastern ports would help increase the UK’s competitiveness in the maritime sector as well as boosting the inter-city business (and consumer) travel across the Pennines.

It is perhaps symbolic that today’s announcement was made by the Transport Secretary and business leaders in the North at the Liverpool 2 Container terminal. We’re finally back on the map.

Strategies are strategies are strategies. We’re very good at writing them, sometimes less good at implementing them.

If this is to be truly transformative for the North – and particularly for Liverpool – we must see these plans gain traction and not be allowed to gather dust.

Momentum is key to these schemes and sometimes difficult to maintain given their long-term timescale of delivery. As a city region we must now articulate our message, policy and voice with a mature, credible and overall positive dialogue with government and our fellow Northern cities.

 

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