WCP Webinar

West Coast Partnership welcomes aspirations for rail’s role in the North West

Senior figures in the North of England and transport discuss rail's role in improving connectivity and generating economic growth at virtual roundtable event hosted by West Coast Partnership. 

  • West Coast Partnership brings together stakeholders from North West to discuss rail’s role in improving connectivity and generating economic growth
  • Place and ambition identified as key guiding principles for rail investment in North of England
  • Transport and Northern leaders champion partnership working and integration of transformative projects and investment to achieve North West’s vision of growth

Senior figures in the North of England and rail industry have championed the importance of partnership working as well as transport’s role at the heart of growth and recovery across the North.

At a virtual roundtable event, hosted by West Coast Partnership (WCP), which operates Avanti West Coast services that connect North West England to the capital and Scotland, it was discussed how rail investment should be used to generate improved connectivity and economic growth.

Collaboration and integration of transformative projects were key themes as rail’s role in helping the UK’s recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic was also discussed.

Titled Growth and Connectivity in the North West, the event brought together Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester; Steve Rotheram, Mayor of Liverpool city Region; Transport for the North’s Strategic Rail Director, David Hoggarth; and Caroline Donaldson, Managing Director of West Coast Partnership Development (WCPD) – the team working with the Department for Transport and HS2 Ltd to design and develop high speed services on HS2 infrastructure.

The panel were joined by a virtual audience of 200 leaders and key stakeholders from Cheshire, Cumbria, Lancashire, Liverpool and Manchester and the rail industry.

Two key guiding principles for rail investment in the North were identified – place and ambition – thinking differently about how rail investment can build greener and more vibrant communities, unlocking growth and improving air quality.

Chaired by Avanti West Coast’s Executive Director of Customer Experience, Natasha Grice, the event was held together with pro-manchester and Professional Liverpool, demonstrating the WCP’s commitment to partnership working, with collaboration through greater engagement with government, authorities, communities and industry across the UK.

It follows the Department for Transport’s announcement last month of the establishment of a new Northern Transport Acceleration Council dedicated to speed up vital infrastructure projects and better connecting communities across the North’s towns and cities.

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester said: “We’re at a critical moment now. If we are going to put in place the right rail investment in the North of England to change its fortunes as an economic entity in the 21st Century, two things are required to guide rail investment. A sense of place – building places rather than just projects. A sense of ambition. This is critical to us. We want ambition to be at the heart of it all.”

He continued: “We’ve got to make sure that transport is at the heart of recovery in our cities. It also needs to be linked to the clean air agenda, where we’re bringing through zero emissions vehicles. So, we’re simultaneously rising to the clean air challenge, as well as improving public transport.”

He added: “I’m very interested in what West Coast Partnership is doing and I think it’s the right way for the industry to be moving, away from the silo approach and the fragmented approach.”

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of Liverpool City Region, said: “Everything is predicated by the reality that COVID-19 will be with us for some considerable time. It doesn’t mean that we can’t look at strategic issues; we have to put important things like the Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2 back on the national agenda for when we come out the other end.”

David Hoggarth, Strategic Rail Director at Transport for the North, said: “Alongside our partners we have developed a strategy for how we can grow our region. HS2, Northern Powerhouse Rail, and wider investment are of course crucial for us, but the current pandemic has reinforced the urgency with which we need to see investment coming forward.”

Speaking at the roundtable event, Caroline Donaldson, Managing Director of West Coast Partnership Development, told the panel and audience: “It has been really exciting to see in the last few years the joining up of stakeholders across the North with a vision for achievement of economic growth and transport.

“We’re very conscious of the need to work with Northern Transport Acceleration Council to make sure that what we are doing is properly integrated, so that we get the combined benefit of HS2, Northern Powerhouse and other schemes.

“We recognise we’re only part of the solution and we are very much looking forward to working with you to achieve those very ambitious, but quite rightly, realistic aims.”

You can watch the webinar here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K00E7A4SHbE

Contact Information

Press Desk

Avanti West Coast


Notes to editors

Image caption

West Coast Partnership Webinar Panel (L - R): David Hoggarth (Strategic Rail Director, Transport for the North); Caroline Donaldson (Managing Director, West Coast Partnership Development); Steve Rotheram (Mayor of Liverpool City Region); Natasha Grice (Executive Director of Customer Experience, Avanti West Coast); Andy Burnham (Mayor of Greater Manchester)  

About West Coast Partnership

The West Coast Partnership is a joint venture between FirstGroup and Trenitalia. The franchise comprises two distinct parts – Avanti West Coast that runs the current services on the West Coast Main Line, and West Coast Partnership Development that works with HS2 Ltd and the DfT to develop and operate high speed rail services.

Both will work in partnership with stakeholders, communities and customers along the route to develop and enhance rail services and help stimulate economic growth. The new partnership will build on the success and culture of the previous operator by bringing together the best parts of both Virgin Trains and First Trenitalia. Our goal is to “deliver a progressive railway service that generates nationwide prosperity and pride.”

About pro-manchester

We are the largest business development organisation in the North West. We represent the business community across the region and support growth and development to promote the north as the place to do business.

Governed by a non-executive Board of Directors made up of senior individuals from within our membership, we increase professional excellence through knowledge sharing, creating partnerships and staying ahead of the ever-changing business environment.  


About Professional Liverpool 

Professional Liverpool, representing the Professional and Business Services Sector (PBS) and wider business community, is an exciting organisation with a clear objective – to be the leading LCR membership organisation promoting, supporting and representing the interests of the PBS sector in the LCR. The sector is one of the strongest in the UK and a cornerstone of the LCR economy supporting an estimated 107,000 jobs in 12,000 companies and generating more than £8billion per annum in gross value added (GVA).

The organisation facilitates the development of business and personal relationships among its members and enables access to support services to achieve improved business performance in the city.


About Avanti West Coast

Avanti West Coast, operator of intercity rail services on the West Coast Main Line, delivering a cleaner, greener railway that drives the West Coast forward.

We’re on a mission to revolutionise train travel, linking together the towns and major cities of the UK to create an iconic railway the country can be proud of. We’ve got big plans including a fleet of new intercity trains, as well as the complete refurbishment of the existing Pendolino train fleet. There will be 263 more train services every week by 2022 with new routes added, and a much-improved onboard service with enhanced free Wi-Fi, plug sockets, 25,000 brand new seats and improved catering. Since 8 December, passengers have benefitted from improved passenger compensation, available for journeys delayed by just 15 minutes.

For the latest news, visit the Avanti West Coast Media Room: https://newsdesk.avantiwestcoast.co.uk/

Press Office: 0845 000 3333