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Is A Row About Liverpool Going To Sink Northern Powerhouse Rail?

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Is A Row About Liverpool Going To Sink Northern Powerhouse Rail?

Is the Northern Powerhouse high speed rail line connecting Manchester to Leeds, Sheffield and the East Coast ports about to be shunted into a siding to give priority to the fast train from Liverpool?

Reports surfaced earlier this month that the government was considering extending the existing HS2 proposals from Crewe to Manchester by taking them on to Liverpool. Now it seems those plans might spell a delay to plans for a trans-Pennine rail link.

Transport for the North's business case for Northern Powerhouse Rail was expected to reach the Department for Transport in December. Now the proposal has been pushed back to February at the earliest, the Yorkshire Post reports.

If the Liverpool extension is agreed — a relatively easy step using existing statutory powers — it would become the first phase of Northern Powerhouse Rail.

City leaders in Leeds and Newcastle are unhappy at the apparent lower priority given to the eastern section, and want the entire line to be a single project. Officially the changes are regarded as fine tuning to the business case, the Yorkshire Post reports.

A comment from Transport for the North Rail Director Tim Wood failed to end the disquiet by adding that various options are under consideration, including different routes and procurement methods, and that nothing is ruled out.

This is the latest in a rapid sequence of pre-Christmas headaches for high-speed rail in the U.K.

The trans-Pennine service is intended to co-ordinate with the completion of HS2 to Leeds. However, the Leeds to Birmingham section is understood to be at risk, whilst the timetable on the Crewe to Manchester spur is beginning to look unsustainable.