Ticket to Ride: How high speed rail for Liverpool can realise the Northern Powerhouse

Publication Details

ResPublica’s latest report, Ticket to Ride: How high speed rail for Liverpool can realise the Northern Powerhouse, radically argues for an innovative local funding mechanism to finance a high speed rail connection from Liverpool city centre into the HS2 route. Featured in The Guardian, The Financial Times, and on  BBC News, the report shows investment will allow the City Region to make its fullest possible contribution to the Northern Powerhouse and the rebalancing of the national economy.

The Liverpool City Region, with its world-class port and logistics facilities, growing business community, and cultural vibrancy, has the potential to drive economic growth at a local, regional and national level. Yet without proper transport links to the rest of the country, these assets could well be squandered. Ticket to Ride advocates connecting the Liverpool City Region into the north-south high speed rail spine, and then on to Manchester and further east as part of the proposed trans-Northern high speed line. It also sets out how the City Region could finance up to two thirds of the cost of this investment locally, via retention of business rates and employer National Insurance contributions – a proposal which would represent a step change in how UK infrastructure is planned and funded.

Yet transport can be only one part of any strategy for economic growth. If Liverpool City Region is to make its fullest possible contribution to the Northern Powerhouse and the rebalancing of the national economy, further reform is required. The report therefore also makes recommendations to accelerate the region’s economic progress in recent years, in order to ensure this investment delivers maximum returns for the region and the wider North. These include the establishment of a new City Region Business Senate, proposals to raise the contribution of Liverpool’s universities, and a renewed focus on the economic potential of Liverpool city centre.

HS2 is a once in a generation investment: the opportunities it offers should be grasped in full. Yet the current route plan risks delivering lower and less evenly distributed growth for the North compared to a scenario where a link to Liverpool is included. The economic progress seen in the City Region since the turn of the millennium in particular may fall away if it does not see investment in first rate transport connections. Ticket to Ride sets out a vision of a Liverpool at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse, seizing its potential and providing benefits to the city, the wider North-West, and the country as a whole.

Louise Ellman MP for Liverpool Riverside and Chair of the House of Commons Transport Select Committee, said: “Liverpool must benefit fully from the important national investment in HS2.  These proposals are well thought out and must be seriously considered.”

Angela Eagle, MP for Wallasey and Shadow Business Secretary, said: “This report rightly highlights the strong economic performance of the North West in recent years, and its potential for further growth in the future. But without a connection into the high speed rail network this growth will be cut off.

“The resources of the North West have long been under-appreciated, but its assets such as the Port of Liverpool are of national economic significance. The Port’s freight potential, and the dynamic business community in Liverpool, mean that businesses around the country will benefit from connecting Liverpool into the high speed rail network, and this report makes a powerful and incisive case for that investment.”

Geoffrey Piper, CEO of the North West Business Leadership Team, said: “I urge Government and Transport for the North to support the plans set out in this report for early introduction of a High Speed link out of Liverpool. This link is crucial for maintaining Liverpool’s economic recovery and employment growth.

“ResPublica’s report recognises the key role which transport plays in driving growth in the local economy – implementation of their recommendations would be good for all Liverpool’s business and industry sectors and for the whole City Region.”

Robert Hough, Chair of Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “This report makes a strong economic case for Liverpool to have a direct High Speed Rail connection through HS2 and HS3. The Liverpool City Region has a vital role to play in rebalancing and bolstering the national economy and this connection is fundamental to sustaining the business and employment growth seen here in recent years.

“High Speed Rail is also a significant move towards the integration of Northern cities and the realisation of the Northern Powerhouse vision.”


  • Duncan Sim

    Research Associate

    Duncan worked at ResPublica for three years. He graduated from Oxford University (Keble College) in July 2014 with a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE), where his studies focused on UK and US domestic politics and central banking. Working...

    Duncan Sim
  • Phillip Blond


    Phillip is an internationally recognised political thinker and social and economic commentator. He bridges the gap between politics and practice, offering strategic consultation and policy formation to governments, businesses and organisations across the world. He founded ResPublica in 2009 and...

    Phillip Blond
  • Bridget Rosewell

    Bridget Rosewell (OBE) is a professional economist and business woman. She has founded several economic consultancies, all of which are still successfully operating, and also has several non-executive roles with major organisations. Bridget has just been appointed as Commissioner for...