As preparations are well under way for the second meeting of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, a lot has been progressed in a short space of time since its formation in April 2014.
Through joint decision making and improved co-ordination of priorities, the City Region will benefit from far reaching transport plans which will help to support and grow the City Region economy.
At the meeting on Friday 13 June, members will be discussing three key transport workstreams:-
• A draft long term rail strategy to improve links within the City Region and beyond over the next 30 years – a set of 12 rail packages have been identified by Merseytravel including enhancements to the Wrexham-Bidston line and development of the Halton Curve to connect the Liverpool City Region with Cheshire and North Wales. The strategy also reflects other key programmes already in development such as electrification of the lines between Liverpool and Manchester which will allow for faster journeys.
• Plans for Rail Devolution that will allow for more local control and influence over rail services that operate to and from Lime Street across the north to get a better deal for passengers. Merseytravel, on behalf of the Combined Authority, is working with other transport authorities in the north and Department for Transport on the decentralisation of, specification, letting and management of rail franchises currently held by Northern and First TransPennine Express.
• On-going work to ensure that the City Region gets the best deal from HS2 – Headline figures from a draft study demonstrate the economic benefits of a direct high speed line in to Liverpool City Centre and essential improved freight linkages. Initial figures suggest a direct high-speed link could generate an economic benefit of up £8.3bn (£550m a year), creating around 14,000 jobs, and with wider regeneration linked to the scheme having the potential to create an additional 12,000. Once complete, this research, commissioned by Merseytravel and the LEP on behalf of the Combined Authority, will be used to ask DfT and HS2 Ltd to instruct further work on the Liverpool City Region HS2 offer.
Alongside the transport update, members will also discuss the opportunities around freight and logistics, progress in building houses and measures to tackle youth unemployment.
Councillor Phil Davies, Chair of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, said “Through the creation of the Combined Authority, we are bringing together new ways of working that better benefit businesses and residents in our City Region. This is the Combined Authority getting down to business and focussing on those strategic projects that will bring widespread economic benefit to the whole Liverpool City Region.
The Combined Authority enables us to consider transport from a ‘big picture’ perspective to ensure we have in place the powers and priorities that can be viewed in a connected, transformational way, rather than in the piecemeal approach of the past.
“Good transport infrastructure and services are key to economic growth and regeneration. They are a way of strengthening not only our City Region but the whole of the north. Rebalancing economies in the north and south will ultimately benefit Britain.”
“The Liverpool City Region has the vision, ambition and commitment to grow and importantly, we have the skills to deliver it.”