THE TWO newly-elected metro mayors of Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region have called on the Government to prioritise rail investment in the north by committing to building the Northern Powerhouse Rail link, sometimes referred to as HS3, before any work begins on the £33 billion Crossrail 2 project in London.

The calls follow warnings from MPs based in London that the calls for NPR to move ahead were increasing the risk of Crossrail 2 being delayed.

Andy Burnham (Manchester) and Steve Rotheram (Liverpool) have said better northern rail links must be a top priority for the Government, creating better connections for Liverpool and Manchester’s airports and improving east-west links. Mr Burnham also noted that London receives six times as much transport spending per traveller as the north of England, and that Transport for the North’s full plan would cost between £25 and £30 billion and connect six city regions with a combined population of 11 million people.

The two metro mayors have suggested the 50km link between Liverpool and Manchester should be built first as the flat terrain would make construction easier. But economic analysis from the independent National Infrastructure Commission suggests £62 million would be generated for the northern economy each year by building the Manchester to Leeds section first, compared with £18 million that would be generated by the Liverpool to Manchester line.

Analysis for TfN found improved rail connections could help the northern economy grow by an additional £97 billion and would create up to 850,000 additional jobs by 2050. Amongst its plans for NPR, TfN wants to see a six trains per hour service between Manchester and Liverpool with a journey time of just 20 minutes, with a similar frequency of services connecting Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester, taking 30 minutes between any two cities.