A group of business leaders and policy experts have called on the government to support a link to connect Liverpool to the High Speed 2 network.
The 20 Miles More campaign sent an open letter to government, urging it to consider a dedicated connection to Liverpool on the second phase of the network.
Under current proposals phase one will run from London to Birmingham by 2026, and to Manchester and Leeds in phase two by 2033.
Campaign director Andrew Morris told Construction News: “When you look at both of the phases, phase one will give Liverpool all the benefit it’s pretty much ever going to get out of HS2 as it stands and as is proposed.
“What we’re looking at is a small and substantial change to phase two.”
Signatories included Lord Derby, think tank ResPublica director Phillip Blond and Mersey Maritime Group chief executive Jim Teasdale.
At the launch of the campaign, Mr Blond said: “The business case for the project as a whole is pretty uncompelling. You only really start to see the business case once you get to the North and it is this last 20 miles that makes the whole network worthwhile.”
The group estimates that for an additional £1.5bn of investment, a direct link to Liverpool could see economic benefits of £8bn.
Figures were based on a KPMG region analysis report published in September last year as well as comparable figures estimated for the Leeds and Manchester areas, Mr Morris said.
Mr Morris added: “Under current proposals, Liverpool trains will come off the high-speed lines, 175 km south of Lime Street at Litchfield or 56 km south of Liverpool, at Crewe.
“That means HS2 doesn’t release any capacity for new trains and services north of Crewe, so we need this new capacity to grow the city region economy.”
The group points to the £1.8bn investment in Liverpool’s port expansion for Post-Panamax carriers, which the group believes is in jeopardy without a direct link to HS2, with increasing passenger and freight traffic on “an already congested Victorian railway”.
Mr Morris said the HS2 project team is working with the Liverpool city region to look at potential Liverpool connections. Mr Blond is also in discussion with all three political parties.
20 Miles More has suggested two possible routes, which could be built in parallel to the suggested proposals for phase two.
Would be the shorter route and would follow the M62 corridor, using a number of dormant rail routes and infrastructure in the region to get into the centre of Liverpool.
Would be a longer route but could be part of the HS2 realignment, according to Mr Morris. The path would be west of Warrington via nearby Halton and come into Liverpool from that direction.