High Speed Rail - Transport Committee Contents

Written evidence from the Liverpool and North West Chambers of Commerce (HSR 16)


Liverpool Chamber welcomes the HS2 initiative as a key element of the Government's stated commitment to achieving a spatial and sectoral rebalancing of the UK economy.

We believe that HS2 will maximise value-for-money (vfm) and business confidence to invest outside London and the South-East. The Chamber would like to see a commitment to the construction of phase I to Birmingham, Phase II to the North-West and Phase III to Scotland.

It is equally important to note that without the associated infrastructure improvements (ie enhanced connectivity with the rest of the network and the indirectly served cities/towns along the West Coast Mainline) the full value of investment will not be realised for UK PLC. The Northern Hub and East/West electrification projects are prerequisites of successful HS2 in the North West. An early and binding commitment to deliver these investments is essential so that complementary connections are in place from day one of HS2 operations.


The Chamber would prefer one rather than two hybrid bills since a single bill will take two years to pass through the system while two separate bills would take three years each. This would both complicate and significantly delay the mechanisms for delivering the programme.


HS2 Draft Proposals

The current proposals indicate the strategic "Y"—one leg serving Manchester and the North West and the other serving the East Midlands and Leeds.

As indicated on schematic at p.22 of DfT Consultation Summary.

Liverpool Chamber Draft Proposals

(i)  To maximise the flexibility and connectivity of the proposed North West element of the network, the Chamber would advocate the provision of a high quality interchange station at or near Warrington—perhaps linking the WCML, HS2 and the Cheshire Line to Liverpool. This would ensure the maximum level of interchange and journey choice for users.

(ii)  The creation of a pair of vees linking Liverpool and Manchester with a northbound HS2 is also an option.

Possible Vees arrangement.

(iii)  A realisation of the original Northern Way vision of east-west connectivity might see the crossing of the "Y" with a HS2 or Javelin-type service linking Liverpool with Leeds via Manchester.

Refinement with high quality direct service linking Liverpool—Manchester—Leeds.


Appropriate (W10 gauge) clearance to link the Royal Seaforth Docks in Bootle and other WCML distribution hubs is essential in order to maximise the value of the freight paths released by HS2.

The WCML RUS recommendations are noted and endorsed but we are also aware that the resurrection of the Freight Facilities Grant might play a key part in assisting industry to make best use of the opportunities presented by HS2. Railhead length vis-à-vis intended length of freight trains is also an issue—the privately-owned railheads are generally too short to allow the easy assembly of 775 metre trains necessary to optimise path capacity.


What impacts do you think HS2 will have on your area or region?

It will provide an alternative for passenger travel while the conventional network is upgraded; reduce travel times between London and the North; and free up capacity on both the WCML and wider network for additional freight paths and localized passenger services.

Do you expect HS2 to encourage more new businesses to start-up in your area?

Yes—particularly as the cost of living in London rises in the wake of rising property prices and congestion. A number of Government departments and high profile organisations such as the BBC are already relocating to the North in view of favourable property rents, reduced overheads and the quality of life offered to employers by regional cities.

Do you expect HS2 to create more jobs in your area?

Yes—early estimates from the DfT suggest that over 40,000 jobs will be created during Phase I alone: around 9,000 would be created on the route's construction and a further 1,500 jobs in its operation. Regeneration around the stations would create 30,000 jobs. As construction progresses north there will be significant supply chain opportunities for LCR-based companies such as RS Clare (greases for rail tracks) and Trend Rail (components).

Do you expect HS2 to increase business productivity in your area? Eg through reduced transport costs

Yes—HSR would allow businesses to access wider markets and a larger labour pool through more trains going to more destinations.

Do you expect HS2 to draw jobs away from your area?

No—on the contrary we expect that HS2 will be essential to supporting the predicted growth of Liverpool City region based on developments currently in the pipeline—eg Liverpool and Wirral Waters, Superport, Mersey Tidal Barrage Scheme, Irish Sea Offshore Wind Programme, Port of Liverpool Deep Water Container Terminal and the recently allocated Enterprise Zone. By reducing the overall time for travel between key cities of the UK and Europe, HS2 will also increase the spatial potential for agglomeration benefits across growth sectors identified below.

In what sectors will the biggest influence be felt?

Built environment, knowledge economy, advanced manufacturing, financial services, low carbon energy development, culture and visitor economy.

What type of jobs will be affected? Skilled/Unskilled?

Both—but relative proportions are indeterminate at this stage. We expect skilled workers to consider prospects offered by Liverpool City-region's four universities and considerable knowledge assets viz. Daresbury, Liverpool Science and Innovation Parks etc to be increasingly accessible and attractive in the longer term—especially when viewed in light of wider quality of life and cost of living issues.

In your opinion, will there be any other redistributional effects caused by HS2?

We believe that improved connectivity, mobility and accessibility delivered by HSR will result in net inward investment and enhance graduate retention across the City-Region.

In your opinion, is HS2 likely to widen or narrow the economic gap between London and your Region?

We think that HS2 is essential for driving a spatial and sectoral rebalancing of the UK economy. It will also connect the cities north of London to the rest of Europe—particularly the Golden Triangle cities of Paris, Strasbourg and Brussels—without having to switch from HS trains to the slower conventional network. This will provide a significant incentive for travelers wishing to access cities north of London en route to Scotland via the North West. It will also reduce congestion and pressure on property and services in the Greater London area as commuters will be able to live further north while maintaining jobs in London—and vice versa.

Are there any transport schemes which you would prefer to see funded instead of HS2? If yes, which schemes and why?

No. HS2 is an absolute priority since the West Coast Main Line is currently the busiest section of the conventional network for freight and predicted to be at full capacity within the next 10 years. Any improvements along the WCML aimed at longer term passenger and freight capacity will only be effective if HS2 is delivered. A national high speed network would transform rail capacity enabling 14 or more additional train services per hour and be designed to accommodate larger and longer trains able to carry up to 1,100 passengers. The enhanced capacity and connectivity made available by HS2 could see as many as six million air trips and nine million road trips a year shift onto rail, freeing up capacity on motorways and enhancing access to, and development of, regional airports.

Is there anything further you would like to mention on the issue of HS2 and its potential impacts?

We are currently supporting the "Yes to HS2" campaign led by David Begg and will be providing a Liverpool and NW regional response to the HS2 consultation currently in the field. We also aim to secure 500 business signatures in a petition to demonstrate support for the programme.

May 2011

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Prepared 8 November 2011