£172.5m spending plans, including new rail stations, approved by combined authority

St James station

Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has approved plans to invest £172.5m in public and sustainable transport to drive inclusive growth across the city region.

The plans include two new rail stations and two new Mersey ferries.

At its meeting this afternoon, the combined authority set out a priority list of 18 green transport projects, including new stations, new Mersey ferries and major improvements to public transport.

All of the identified projects must still go through a full appraisal process.

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: “This ambitious £172.5m programme will help to drive economic growth that benefits everyone in our city region by dramatically improving sustainable transport across our city region.

“By making it easier for people to get around, and access jobs and opportunities, using public transport or by walking and cycling, we will boost prosperity, help our environment, and improve health and wellbeing.”

Cllr Liam Robinson, portfolio holder for transport and air quality, said: “These plans mark one of the combined authority’s most significant investments yet in making our transport system more sustainable.

“By increasing our public transport network and making it more attractive, as well as making it easier for people to get around on foot or by bike, we are giving a green boost to our city region’s economy, that will benefit everyone who lives and works here.”

Projects to be supported through the Transporting Cities Fund must fall into three main themes: Improving and expanding the public transport network to meet new areas of demand; improving the appeal of public transport; and improving health and wellbeing.

The projects identified for potential funding, subject to developing a robust business case and being approved through the usual appraisal process, include plans to re-open a derelict rail station in the heart of Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle, St James station, as well as a new facility at Headbolt Lane, Kirkby, on the Merseyrail network.

St James station would be refurbished and re-opened after laying derelict since its closure on January 1, 1917.

It lies between Liverpool Central station and Brunswick station.

The cost of re-opening St James could reach £50m. Work would include two new platforms and lift access from street level to the station, as well as ticket offices.

But businesses around the burgeoning Baltic Triangle area of the city say it would help boost the local economy.

Plans to improve the region’s rail infrastructure also include a study into expanding the busy Liverpool Central station in the heart of the city, as well as its main line Lime Street station to handle high speed Northern Powerhouse Rail services.

And two new low-carbon ferries could replace the existing vessels currently working the River Mersey.

Also, plans to revitalise the International Business Festival were approved by the combined authority, which agreed to commission a partner to deliver a new-look festival, delivered across multiple venues around the city region.

The festival will feature a “good business” concept, developed following a creative design exercise, that will explore how businesses can maximise social benefits, with a focus on engaging local residents and organisations, as well as attracting an international business audience.

Steve Rotheram

Steve Rotheram said: “This new approach will build on the success of previous business festivals that we have supported as a combined authority.

“Clearly there are lot of details yet to be decided, but these are very exciting new ideas for the festival that will see businesses and civic society coming together to explore how we can maximise the social impact of investment and business activity.

“The concept of a dispersed festival, using venues across the whole city region, also has huge potential to engage with local people and organisations in an innovative way, whilst also attracting an international audience.”

Asif Hamid MBE, portfolio holder for business support and Brexit, said: “The International Business Festival has helped to raise the profile of the city region with tens of thousands of businesses over recent years.

“It is important that we take the opportunity to build on that legacy in a way that actively involves and benefits our local businesses.”

An investment of up to £3m has been approved to deliver the 2020 festival.

Previous festivals in 2014, 2016 and 2018 attracted tens of thousands of business people from more than 100 countries and generated hundreds of millions of pounds of investment for UK firms.

Delivery of an international business festival in 2020 forms part of the Liverpool City Region’s devolution agreement with central government.