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
Former Prime Minister Lord Heseltine's is being recognised for his 30-year association with the regeneration of Merseyside. He said:
"I don't know of any other occasion when a city so entrenched in a culture of the left should recognise a Conservative ex-minister in this way.
As a freeman of Liverpool Lord Heseltine will see his name added to the city's Freedom Roll of Associations and Institutions. Others on the roll include the Duke of Lancaster Regiment, Cancer Research and the Hillsborough Families.
Michael Heseltine will be awarded the Freedom of Liverpool today. He was Minister for Merseyside in the 1980s and set up the Merseyside Development Corporation which restored Albert Dock. He also helped start the clean-up of the River Mersey.