‘No direct HS2 link for Liverpool’

LIVERPOOL will have to wait beyond 2033 for a direct link to the HS2 high speed rail network, despite local campaigns for a 20-mile extension to phase two of the scheme to include the city.

This is according to HS2 non-executive director Duncan Sutherland, speaking at a conference in Manchester.

Sutherland, who is also group regeneration director of Sigma Capital, was addressing the British Council for Shopping Centres 2015 event at Manchester Central.

The topic under discussion was how to unlock retail real estate investment through infrastructure investments.

After outlining the overall £42.6bn investment into the two phases of HS2 which will bring superfast travel from London’s Euston Station to Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle by 2033, Sutherland told TheBusinessDesk an extension to Liverpool could not be included.

He said: “We are in a very tight budget situation. To actually put new routes on to what we’ve already got is just not going to happen. We are having to look at doing things in a more value-added way.

“Much as we’d like to go to Liverpool, that’s not on the cards in these two phases. But what I have said to the Mayor and to other people in the city is that – look at France.

“France started with a line from Paris to Lille – it killed off air flights overnight. But since they did that, they’ve extended it. And I see that happening in the UK – the network will extend –  it will be over a long period of time, but it will extend.

“I went on a trip just to see how they were doing it- they were building a line eastward to Bordeaux and it was fascinating to see how they are doing it.

“All we are doing is getting High Speed Rail going built in two phases. Yes we are looking at how we speed up the feasibility of links to Scotland, but Liverpool – there is already going to be a massive cut in the time to Liverpool.

“It goes high speed to Crewe and then the only bit that isn’t high speed will be between Crewe and Liverpool.”

His comments will be a blow to the Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson who has vowed he would not stop putting pressure on the Government until the city has the full high speed rail connections he believes it deserves.

Two local campaigns – High Speed Rail Linking Liverpool and 20 Miles More – have gathered online petitions calling for the city’s immediate inclusion into the HS2 scheme.