East-west rail link ‘critical’ to Port of Liverpool’s growth

New report from law firm Brabners says facilities such as the Port of Liverpool can only reach their full potential through significant transport infrastructure investment. Tony McDonough reports

Port of Liverpool

A new east-west rail link across the North of England is critical to the success of the Port of Liverpool’s efforts to transform the UK’s logistics sector.

Liverpool law firm Brabners claims the North of England risks falling further behind the south in terms of economic growth without Government and private sector investment in road capacity and freight-readiness for rail.

In its report – Supply Chain: The future of the North – Brabners urges manufacturers, retailers and logistics operators in the North to lobby devolved and central powers to ensure future infrastructure investment in the region isn’t delayed by the COVID-19 crisis.

Peel Ports has invested £750m in the Liverpool2 facility at the Port of Liverpool, enabling it to handle 95% of the world’s biggest container vessels. Over the past year Peel has been successful in persuading a number of freight operators to switch to Liverpool from southern ports.

For the past few decades, the bulk of the UK’s imports have come in through southern ports such as Felixstowe, Southampton and Tilbury. Goods are transported by road to logistics hubs in the Midlands and then taken to the North of England and Scotland.

Peel says this is an inefficient way of moving imported goods to the north of the UK and has heavily promoted Liverpool as a viable alternative. Now, with the UK on the verge of a new trade deal with the US, the Port of Liverpool has a golden opportunity to reclaim its status as the gateway to Britain.

However, the port is being held back in maximising that potential by the lack of investment in transport infrastructure across the north of England. Northern Powerhouse Rail, a £39bn plan for a high-speed east-west rail link, would be seen as transformational.

Even before the coronavirus epidemic there were concerns that not enough progress was being made on rail infrastructure. Think tank IPPR North says transport spending in the region per head represents only a quarter of the amount that is spent in London, and significantly less than across the south as a whole . . . . . 

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