Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson this week urged the government to ensure that the borough's rail network was used to carry freight to and from the Port of Liverpool to ease congestion and pollution on our roads.
Quizzing Secretary of State for Transport Patrick Loughlin about the government's plans for an upgrade of the road links between the docks and the motorway, Bill said more must be done to utilise our rail lines.
During the debate, Bill Esterson said: "The Secretary of State’s statement refers to the £250 million upgrade of the port access road in Liverpool. The road goes through a largely residential area and there will undoubtedly be large concerns among people living there about congestion and the impact on their homes. As my right hon. Friend Mr Bradshaw suggested for the south-west, will the Secretary of State also considered the potential for improving rail access for freight from the port? That should be considered very seriously, rather than our just improving the roads. Rail is a key part of the solution, too."
In response Mr McLoughlin said: "We must consider all these issues across the board. We have seen a substantial increase in freight travelling on the railways. My understanding is that there are two possible routes for the scheme to which he refers and we will obviously want to discuss with local communities which should be the way forward."
Speaking afterwards, Bill Esterson said more must be done to reduce the impact of increased freight traffic on our roads.
The Labour MP said: "While I welcome the plans to expand the port, which in turn will create jobs and be a real boost for our local economy, I share the concerns of many of my constituents about the long term implications of increased freight traffic on our roads.
"The main routes from Switch Island to the docks are already exceedingly busy at the best of times, an increase of freight traffic travelling to and from the port will obviously have a major impact.
"The government is talking about making improvements to our roads so they can better handle the congestion. But then there is the impact of increased pollution on the surrounding communities. That has got to be a major concern that is addressed as part of this investment.
"That is why I am certain that we need to utilise our rail network a lot better specifically in relation to the port.
"Getting more freight off the roads and onto the rails will solve the problem of the increased congestion and the pollution.
"The Secretary of State tells me that he will be engaging with local communities as the scheme progresses. Communities here in Maghull, Aintree, Lydiate, Thornton, Crosby and Formby are affected by this scheme. I will work to ensure that the views of my constituents are heard and that decisions are made that are in the best interests of our local communities."