Mersey Maritime chief executive Chris Shirling-Rooke says we can unleash our growth potential with a high-speed rail link across the North of England
As chief executive of the leading maritime representative organisation in the North West, I welcome the Prime Minister’s commitment to serious investment in our regional transport infrastructure and the wider vision of a Northern Powerhouse.
With the Northern Powerhouse Minister now attending Cabinet, I am sure that the case for the whole of our part of the country will be robustly made at the very heart of the government. It is essential that it is so and that must include the maritime sector.
Growth in the maritime sector isn’t just about figures on a piece of paper. For the members of Mersey Maritime, and the wider industry here in the Liverpool City Region, we contribute well over £3bn to the local economy and support nearly 50,000 jobs locally.
We want to see this growth continue and stand ready to play our part in the positive agenda of turbo-charging regional growth and prosperity.
There’s a real opportunity to unleash further the maritime industry with our area and transform the north of England into an east-west super-corridor, connecting Atlantic focused shipping with continental Europe.
While welcoming the government’s commitment to every corner of the UK and not just London and the South-East, the pledge to deliver Northern Powerhouse Rail, the first step of the Manchester to Leeds route can’t be the end of the journey.
For our industry to be turbo-charged, we need to see east/west connectivity extend to connect Liverpool and the Humber ports happen as quickly as possible. That has to include plans for rail freight optimisation between these strategic ports.
The case for this investment couldn’t be clearer:
- The Humber, Liverpool and North West ports account for nearly 40% of the total tonnage handled by English ports in the UK.
- On average, for passengers, the journey time between Liverpool and Hull is nearly five hours and there are no direct trains – freight services are limited and restricted by an already congested network.
- The region has some of the busiest motorways in the country – the M60 and M62 – congestion would undoubtedly be eased if freight could be transported by other means
- Freight is often diverted on long distance North-South road routes – optimisation of rail services has the potential to reduce the number of freight miles on the UK road system with more efficient east/west routes.
Northern Powerhouse Rail can’t just be a dream on a map – let’s make every aspect of it a priority to turbo-charge and connect our east and west coastal powerhouse communities.