THE Government today insisted Liverpool will benefit from the new high-speed rail network – even though the new line will not extend to Merseyside.
Journey times from Liverpool to London would be cut by 32 minutes under the proposals.
But fears remain the failure to extend the new service to Merseyside will benefit other cities at Liverpool’s expense.
Today, the Department for Transport (DfT) was due to publish the new route for high- speed rail (HS2) from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds.
It was expected to confirm Liverpool will be linked to HS2 at Crewe, rather than Lichfield, cutting journey times to the capital to one hour and 36 minutes.
The plans mark Phase Two of the network, due for completion in 2032. Construction of the first stage of the project, which will link London to Birmingham, is expected to start in four years.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin insisted the Government would do "everything possible" to ensure Liverpool benefits from HS2.
He said: "HS2 will be woven into the transport fabric of the nation, accessible to all, including those in Liverpool.
"I believe these proposed routes, north of Birmingham, offer a great starting point for the consultation process to follow.As with previous consultations, we will work closely with communities and interested parties to find the right balance between delivering essential infrastructure and respecting the rights and justifiable concerns of those who will be most affected by HS2’s construction."
While HS2 will see journey times between Liverpool and London cut, journeys from Manchester to the capital will be slashed to around one hour and eight minutes.
That has led to fears Manchester will prosper at Liverpool’s expense.
Riverside MP Louise Ellman, chairman of the Commons transport select committee, said she supported the new route and remained hopeful HS2 would eventually be directly extended to Liverpool.
She told the ECHO: "I welcome the decision to go ahead with high-speed rail and the publication of the route for the second phase, it’s absolutely essential the high-speed line does not stop at Birmingham."The original plans were for the high- speed route to go to Lichfield, just north of Birmingham, and Liverpool served on the existing line.
"We strongly opposed that and I understand the link will be at Crewe, which will be much better.
"Ultimately, we want a direct line to London and we want consultation.
"It is absolutely essential that investment in the Liverpool to Manchester and Leeds line continues.
"I support HS2 but there needs to be consultation on the details.
"Ultimately, we want a direct line for Liverpool.
"I am concerned it will take longer to get from Liverpool to London [than Manchester] but ultimately this proposal is much better than the first proposal from Lichfield."