Tory grandee Lord Heseltine - a former Minister for Merseyside - has declared his support for the £50 billion HS2 high-speed rail project.
The one time Deputy Prime Minister says the scheme's timetable should be accelerated and that the private sector should contribute to the cost.
He says: "HS2 is about our country's competitiveness for a half century or more.
"It is about so many more people sharing growth that has, for too long, been concentrated on London and the South East.
The first phase of HS2 is due for completion in 2026, with the second phase, taking the line to north east and north west England, due to be completed by 2032/33