Liverpool Chamber welcomes rail investment in Northern Hub scheme

Liverpool Chamber of Commerce welcomes the Government’s announcement today which allocates £9B for rail investment in England over the next five years. Ministers’ commitment to funding the £560M Northern Hub scheme is of particular significance to Liverpool and the wider North-West region.

The Northern Hub refers to a range of infrastructure improvements in the rail network that presently links Liverpool, Chester, Manchester, Leeds, York and Sheffield. Once complete these upgrades will allow two additional fast hourly services between Liverpool, Manchester and onwards to Leeds. It will also halve journey times for commuters travelling to Liverpool from Manchester from 50 minutes to around 30.

Carole Crosby, interim Chief Executive of Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, said: “We are delighted that the Coalition Government has devoted the full £560M of funding for the Northern Hub. This money is only a small fraction of the comparative rail investment that is poured into London and the South East but its benefits are much further reaching, holding commercial benefits not only for Liverpool but also for the wider region. As such the Northern Hub will help to close the productivity gap by allowing Northern city-regions to function more cohesively and competitively to attract more high quality jobs and firms.”

Graham Botham, Network Rail’s Principal Strategic Planner, added: “The government’s decision to support full funding of the Northern Hub is excellent news for passengers across the north, who will enjoy faster, more frequent services: up to 700 extra a day. The project demonstrates how investment in infrastructure can unlock economic potential by better connecting towns and cities - it will deliver £4bn of benefits to the Northern economy and create between 20,000 and 30,000 new jobs. The project will also create the capacity for 44million more passenger journeys a year, whether for leisure or business – a welcome boost to allow the northern economy to continue to thrive."

Mrs. Crosby continued: “Liverpool Chamber’s Transport Committee has tirelessly campaigned for the Northern Hub to proceed in its entirety rather than through a piecemeal approach that the DfT had alluded to. We held a major conference focusing on Rail in the North earlier this year in order to inform and demonstrate business support for the scheme and have worked hand-in-hand with Network Rail and other Chambers across the North West to raise awareness on the Northern Hub’s importance for Liverpool during the last three years. The Northern Hub underpins a multilayered agenda for a vision in which increasing numbers of business commuters opt to travel by rail as a more sustainable transport mode. Given the city’s growth prospects and aspirations, the Northern Hub will also deliver the necessary capacity for shifting a rising number of containers by rail from the Ports of Liverpool and Garston.”