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Issue: July at  18 July 2013

High Speed Rail Consultation commences

THE formal consultation on the High Speed Rail 2 project commenced on Wednesday, 17 July 2013. The consultation will run until 31 January 2014, with Ministers announcing the outcome at the end 2014.

Merseytravel is leading and coordinating the consultation in the Liverpool City Region and a combined response to that consultation in relation to High Speed 2, Phase 2 will be provided.

Under the High Speed Rail 2, Phase 2 scheme, journey times between Liverpool (Merseyside) and London will improve significantly to 1 hour 36 minutes, over half an hour quicker than existing West Coast Mainline services. The new line will also see capaCity on existing Inter City Lines being freed up for greater freight and local capaCity, bringing additional benefits to the region.

City Region leaders have welcomed the current HS2 proposals, under which trains to and from Liverpool will travel at maximum speed between London and Crewe, before branching off to use the existing Inter City Lines between Crewe and Liverpool Lime Street.

However, the greatest potential and benefit for the Liverpool City Region would truly be unlocked by the creation of a dedicated high speed line into a new Liverpool City Centre Terminus. This would free up capacity between Crewe and Liverpool, which under the current proposal would still be taken up by the classic compatible high speed trains and would also be a catalyst for major regeneration opportunities around the station.

Merseytravel and partners will therefore be continuing to make the case strongly to the government that full high speed rail services must come through to Liverpool.

There are potentially very significant economic benefits for the Liverpool City Region from the project.

Official estimates put the overall economic benefits of the High Speed Rail 2, Phase 2 project, that would bring full speed trains to Crewe and then on to Liverpool at standard speeds, at £48.2billion for Transport Benefits with the Wider Economic Benefits at £63.6billion.

It is estimated that in the region of 60,000 jobs could be created by the Phase 2 project overall.

Councillor Liam Robinson, Chair of Merseytravel, said:- "It is vital that we do all we can to ensure that the Liverpool City Region receives a proper share of the transport and economic benefits of High Speed Rail 2. The scheme in its current form will bring us very significant benefits for business, employment and for the travelling public. Should we be successful in persuading government of the benefits of bringing the full High Speed route in to Liverpool itself, this would clearly be even better news for the City Region. We expect that formal Information events will be held between October and December this year and we will be working to ensure engagement of the business community, public and voluntary sectors and general public."

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