A NON-executive director of HS2 has held out the hope that high-speed rail track could yet extend the whole way into Liverpool’s Lime Street station.
Under plans published this week for Britain’s new high speed rail network, trains travelling from London to Liverpool will switch from high speed track to existing slower tracks just north of Crewe.
When completed in 2032, the new high-speed network, costing £32bn and known as HS2, will mean journey times between London and Liverpool will be reduced by 40 minutes to one hour 36 minutes. However trains will complete journeys between the capital and Manchester in just one hour and eight minutes and to Leeds in one hour and 22 minutes since the high speed track will be laid the whole way to those cities.
HS2 board director Duncan Sutherland believes that the initial network of high-speed track could eventually be extended to Liverpool, though he warned that city planners will need to start making preparations now if that is ever to become a reality.
Mr Sutherland, who is also a director of Regenerate Liverpool, said: “My view is that what we are putting in here is the basic infrastructure to start to bring the country up to modern day standards. We are 40 years behind some other countries such as Japan and France. But once it’s built, people will say we want to improve it.
“In my life time, HS2 will extend up to Scotland and you will be able to travel high speed from Liverpool to Glasgow.
“It’s not only about London, it’s about Liverpool to the Midlands. Suddenly you are making Liverpool far more connected to other regions of the UK and that’s good for everybody.”
Mr Sutherland drew a comparison with France’s high speed network, which has gradually seen more provincial cities connected to it.
He said: “I gave a talk to local business people about this issue. There are many things a local station needs to do. Lille developed the area around its station and they were planning that way before its high speed link was opened.
“I said to people in Liverpool, look at connectivity to Wirral, Southport and other places, and really make Lime Street a hub so people will come into Liverpool and travel onwards.
“High speed trains may come into Liverpool Lime Street from places like Paris, so people will say why run just two trains per hour, maybe we need three or four because it’s become such a popular hub. And if that happens, there would be a good case for extending the high speed track beyond Crewe to Liverpool.”