A new Liverpool-Manchester Railway Board has been established to maximise the economic and social benefits of a new railway between the Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester.

On the 200th anniversary of the formation of the original Liverpool and Manchester Railway Company, which oversaw the construction of the world's first inter-city passenger railway, the Mayors of Greater Manchester and Liverpool City Region launched the Board and set out their preferred options for improvements to rail infrastructure linking the North West’s two largest city-regions.

The plans include transformational investment in city centre stations in Liverpool and a modern, underground station at Manchester Piccadilly. A new, high-speed rail line would run through new stations at Warrington Bank Quay and Manchester Airport, connecting the Investment Zones in Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester via prime development sites.

Following the scrapping of the northern legs of HS2, the government invited the two Mayors to advise on the best solution for improved connectivity between Liverpool and Manchester as part of the Northern Powerhouse Rail scheme.

Announced today (Wednesday 22 May) at the UK’s Real Estate Investment and Infrastructure Forum (UKREIIF), the Liverpool-Manchester Railway Board will advance a place-based, bottom-up approach to deliver world-class connectivity and turbocharge the economy of the North West.

The new Board will be chaired by the two Mayors with the leaders of Manchester City Council, Cllr Bev Craig, and Liverpool City Council, Cllr Liam Robinson, serving as vice-chairs, and will involve local authorities along the route, as well as the Port of Liverpool, Manchester Airports Group, and other stakeholder organisations.

The Board will be tasked with working with the government and engaging with the private sector to help build the business case for the most ambitious line possible. Expressions of interest are now being invited from private sector partners who would like to engage with the Board - interested parties should email the.mayor@greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk. 

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “Our region was home to the first inter-city railway anywhere in the world, but today our rail network is now not fit for purpose after decades of underinvestment. The scale of economic opportunity right along the line is huge, with Investment Zones in both city-regions and several major development sites, but the North West can only reach its potential with better rail connectivity.  

“We’ve been successful in making the case to government for our preferred options – in Greater Manchester that means a new, underground station at Piccadilly. The new Board will help us accelerate these plans and capitalise on a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build the railway the North needs.”

Mayor of Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram, said: “From the world’s first passenger railway powered by Stephenson’s Rocket to the Dockers’ Umbrella, our region has been revolutionising Britain’s railways for centuries. But sadly, regions across the North have been forced to contend with infrastructure that wouldn't look out of place 100 years ago. It suffocates growth and holds the country's economy back.

“Transformative investment in better rail connectivity between our two city regions cannot and is more than just a regional project. This is a nationally important infrastructure scheme that would help to unlock the North’s enormous potential and deliver a greater return to the Treasury.

"There are fantastic, passionate leaders across the North in business, infrastructure and a wide range of sectors. We want their help: come and join us to deliver the same transformation that the Liverpool Manchester Railway did 200 years ago."

Leader of Manchester City Council, Councillor Bev Craig, said: 

"Improving rail connections across the north of England is absolutely fundamental to our future success. Investing in better links between our two great cities is a vital step towards that and it's important that we get on with delivering it and that we get it right, maximising the opportunities which will be created. This board will be a strong start.

"But we also need to see Northern Powerhouse Rail delivered in full, from Liverpool to Hull - with an underground Manchester Piccadilly station at its heart -and improved north-south rail connections to ensure adequate capacity."

Leader of Liverpool City Council, Councillor Liam Robinson, said: “For Liverpool and the North West to truly realise our economic potential, we need a new age of the train – with a focus on investment in infrastructure. The benefit of a better connection between Liverpool and Manchester would not only supercharge our economies, the impact would be felt throughout the UK. This region gave birth to the era of customer train journeys. It’s time we upgraded for the 21st century.”