Headed by Everton FC CEO Denise Barrett-Baxendale, the Liverpool City Region Station Commission will aim to produce a blueprint for a new city centre high-speed rail terminal. Tony McDonough reports
Work has started on the blueprint for a new mainline railway station for Liverpool that will provide an “architecturally stunning gateway” to the city.
Last year, Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram, announced plans for a station commission. It would be tasked with designing and ultimately delivering a new rail terminal equipped to accommodate high-speed rail services.
Mr Rotheram believes Liverpool needs be ready for projects such as HS2, a £100bn-plus project linking London with the north, and Northern Powerhouse Rail, a proposed £40bn high-speed line connecting cites across the north of England.
This week, the National Infrastructure Commission recommended the Government shook prioritise rail links across the north over projects such as HS2. Either way, Mr Rotheram wants Liverpool city region to have its plans in place for whichever way the Government decides to proceed.
Liverpool currently has one mainline railway station – Lime Street – plus four underground stations on the Merseyrail network – Central, James Street, Moorfields and Lime Street. For 150 years, until its closure in 1977, the city was also serviced by Exchange Station in Tithebarn Street, which linked the city with the north and Scotland.
Chaired by Everton FC chief executive, Denise Barrett-Baxendale, the Liverpool City Region Station Commission is tasked with not only identifying and considering options for the station’s location, size and functions, but also the potential for significant regeneration and redevelopment associated with a new city centre station.
“I want our region maximise the huge opportunities that HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail offer,” said Mr Rotheram. “The current capacity at Lime Street isn’t enough to cope with significantly larger high-speed trains. We want to construct a brand-new station that will provide world-class facilities to welcome visitors to our world-class city region.
“When it is built, it will be much more than a rail station. I want it to be an architecturally stunning gateway which offers a mix of leisure, retail and office accommodation. I have always said that connectivity is critical to our ambitious proposals.
“Having the facility for improved services north/south, but also west/east, would both cut passenger journey times whilst also increasing freight capacity, bringing much needed environmental, social and economic benefits for our area and the whole country.”
Due to the complexities associated with any large infrastructure project, the commission brings together a range of experts from across the worlds of transport, business and the public sector.
They will inform and support the development of business cases, feasibility studies, economic analysis and master planning as proposals progress, ensuring integration with relevant external programmes, such as Northern Powerhouse Rail.
Transport for the North’s Strategic Transport Plan includes plans to ensure that Liverpool city region will benefit from a full connection to both Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2. The plan also recognises the need for a new station to accommodate new 21st century trains.
Professor Denise Barrett-Baxendale added: “The project will not only create a world-class transport hub and gateway to the Liverpool city region which is fit for the 21st century, it will bring optimism and opportunity as we emerge from the effects of COVID-19.
“The city region is faced with the momentous task of rebuilding its economy after the pandemic. This project is exactly what is needed to boost the region and bring much needed jobs and prosperity to the area, something I am extremely passionate about and committed to.”