PLANS for a new rail line between Liverpool and Manchester and revamped train stations have been announced by a newly formed railway board.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram, Liverpool City Region Mayor, said the plans will boost the economy of the North West and increase opportunities for businesses and residents.

The plans were announced after the mayors, along with other local politicians, recently launched the Liverpool-Manchester Railway Board, to improve connectivity between the two city regions.

A new line will link Liverpool Lime Street to Manchester Piccadilly, via revamped stations at Warrington Bank Quay and Manchester Airport.

Bank Quay station has been earmarked for redevelopment as part of Northern Powerhouse Rail proposals.

Details of how the link could potentially impact on rail connectivity through the St Helens borough has not been released, but town leaders are known to be keen to strengthen access between the area and Warrington, Liverpool and Manchester.

An underground station at Manchester Piccadilly is also envisaged along with improvements to Liverpool Central, the busiest underground tube station outside London.

Announcing the plans at the UK’s Real Estate Investment and Infrastructure Forum in Leeds, Mr Rotheram said it was 200 years ago this week when the first board meeting of the Liverpool and Manchester Rail Company was held.

Six years later the world’s first inter-city rail line was completed, between the two cities.

But Mr Rotheram said the journey time between the two cities today is comparable to the time it took in the early days of steam.

If the new plans come to fruition, the journey time between Liverpool city centre and Manchester Airport, now well over an hour, will be cut to 25 minutes.

Mr Rotheram said: “It won’t be like HS2 and promise after promise and nothing delivered.

“This is going to happen. We’ve got the budget, we want to increase that but also we genuinely have the best interests of the cities of Liverpool and Manchester and Liverpool city region and Manchester city region at heart.”

Last year, the Government finally confirmed the northern leg of the high speed rail link to Birmingham and London would be scrapped, saving around £36 billion.

The Government promised some of the money would instead be spent on other transport projects in the north of England.

Mr Burnham added: “The economy gets bigger if you build the railway in the right way.

“Steve and I have had confirmation from the Government that £17 billion is still in the plan, the integrated rail plan, to deliver this new railway.”

Mr Burnham said the £17 billion of public money is only a “starting point” and the board will be a public and private sector partnership.

He added: “This was the first railway in the world. Why can’t we now have an ambition around it being the most innovative, the greenest railway in the world as we bring it through, 200 years later?

“It’s going to be a really exciting project to work on and this is what true levelling up always should have been, isn’t it?

“This is us, doing it for ourselves, setting our own ambition, where hopefully UK Government enables, so finally all the pain of the debate around railways, we’ve kind of ended up at the right station.”