Andy Burnham pledges to fight all the way for high speed rail links across North West
Manchester’s Metro Mayor Andy Burnham has pledged to fight the Government every step of the way over rail links in the North West.
Mr Burnham is calling for high rail speed links between Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds as well as a fresh look at the transport infrastructure in the region.
The mayor was speaking alongside his Liverpool counterpart Steve Rotheram at an event to launch the 2018 International Business Festival.
The event was held at the offices of law firm DWF in Manchester.
The two mayors spoke on a range of issues including transport, education and training and rail links between the North West’s biggest cities.
But Andy Burnham was most passionate on the issue of transport and proposals that the high-speed rail link coming out of Euston should connect to the regional network.
He said: “There are big questions looming over HS2 and what we don’t want to see investment following the traditional model.
“In the past there has been no expense spared at Euston and in the Chilterns but as the rail line comes north the money runs out.
“That approach is not good enough, we are not going to have that any more. We are not going to lie down and accept what we are given.”
Mr Burnham also spoke about the lack of accountability in organisations and businesses involved in managing the region’s transport network.
He said: “I have been asking questions of a transport system that is not answerable. We have national bodies such as Network Rail and Highways England who are not answerable to the business community in the region.
“As a result of deregulation we have private bus companies who are not answerable. We need organisations in our region to answer questions.”
Mr Burnham is backing calls for the redevelopment of Manchester’s Piccadilly station to be at the heart of the region’s transport network.
The aim is to connect Manchester to Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield in around 30 minutes and to Newcastle and Hull in under 90 minutes.
Mr Burnham said: “We will only realise the full potential of HS2 if we redevelop Piccadilly in the right way, by maximising both the space for development and the frequency of cross-northern services.
“This is an opportunity to lay the right foundations for the Northern Powerhouse we all want to see.
“It is about securing the connectivity and prosperity of the north for the rest of this century.”
Both mayors spoke of the importance of a united front in the North West to grow the region’s economy.
Mr Burnham said: “It is really important that we take advantage of this moment.
“Brexit is creating a lot of negativity in central Government which gives us an advantage in the region.
“The North West is the only region in the country to have two neighbouring areas with devolved powers, that gives us a major advantage.”
The International Business Festival is being held at the Exhibition Centre Liverpool from 12-28 June and will focus on key growth industries including life sciences, manufacturing and the creative sector.
Across three weeks, the event will bring together exhibitors and visitors from around the world and will help UK businesses grow and make global connections.
Steve Rotheram said: “The goal of delivering inclusive economic growth that works for everyone in the Liverpool City Region – and Greater Manchester – is only achievable through an entrepreneurial, innovative and successful private sector.
“This dynamic event gives businesses across the North West the opportunity to access the world on their doorstep.
“Since the Festival launched in 2014, it has delivered over half a billion pounds of additional trade and investment for the UK – the majority of that within the North West.
“I would urge any firm wanting to make the next step to take advantage of this incredible opportunity.”
Andy Burnham added: “Greater Manchester and Liverpool are two devolved administrations which are primed and ready to make decisions on regional issues that can truly make the difference people need.
“But we cannot do this alone – we need the support of the business and private sectors in the North West to kick-start growth and help create a thriving local economy.
“I’m looking forward to attending the 2018 International Business Festival where companies will be presenting exciting plans for the future and sharing advice and insight as everyone works towards economic success.”