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Liverpool City Region passengers to benefit from £340m of rail improvements

21 March 2016  •  Author: Katie Sadler, Digital Content Producer, European Railway Review

Rail passengers travelling in and around the Liverpool City Region (LCR) will soon benefit from £340m of rail improvements over the next three years.

Liverpool City Region passengers to benefit from £340m of rail improvements

Network Rail has announced plans to improve rail services within LCR as part of its nationwide Railway Upgrade Plan. The improvements, part-financed by the Government’s Growth Deal funding, will provide passengers with faster, more frequent and more reliable train services by 2019 and help meet growing demand.

Of the £340m, Network Rail will be contributing £229m with the Liverpool City Region investing £111m.

Faster, more frequent and more reliable Liverpool City Region train services by 2019

According to Network Rail, improvements will pave the way for additional services, such as planned new First Transpennine Express services from Liverpool to Glasgow in 2019, and new Liverpool-to-Chester services.

Improvement work will include:

  • building new and longer platforms at Liverpool Lime Street station to accommodate more services and longer trains
  • renewing tracks on the underground loop on the Merseyrail network
  • adding additional track between Huyton and Roby to allow faster trains to overtake local services
  • building a new station at Maghull North and revamping Newton-le-Willows station
  • installing a new section of railway to enable frequent new services between Liverpool and Chester, with ambitions of extending these into North Wales.

Commenting on the investment, Martin Frobisher, route managing director for Network Rail, said: “Our aim over the next three years is to give the people of Liverpool the high-quality rail services they deserve. With demand for rail travel expected to rise by 100% over the coming years, these improvements are vital for the future growth and prosperity of this great city region.

“During this work Liverpool will remain open for business, welcoming visitors to the city as well as providing vital transport links for commuters.

“Our focus during any disruption is to take a similar approach to the Commonwealth Games, to ensure that while journeys will be slightly different, that they run smoothly enabling access to the city at all times.”

“With demand for rail travel expected to rise by 100% over the coming years, these improvements are vital for the future growth”

Merseytravel is the strategic transport advisor to the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and project lead for a number of the schemes.

Cllr Liam Robinson, Chair of Merseytravel said: “We welcome this investment. It’s essential in keeping the Liverpool City Region moving now, and in the future. Network Rail’s investment is in addition to the funding we have secured from Government for certain key schemes and also that we’ve raised locally.

“It’s helping deliver the first stage of our 30-year Long Term Rail Strategy”

“It’s helping deliver the first stage of our 30-year Long Term Rail Strategy, supporting economic growth by boosting connections and capacity within the City Region and beyond. We see this as essential incremental improvement ahead of transformational schemes such as high speed links north-south and east- west to ensure we fulfil our potential as a key player in the ‘Northern Powerhouse’

“The work to take forward these schemes will, in some cases, mean significant changes to how people make their journeys. We see ourselves as the passengers’ champion, working with Network Rail and train operators to ensure that they have the best plans possible in place to minimise disruption to residents, visitors and business.”

The main areas of investment are:

Liverpool Lime Street

At Liverpool Lime Street station, track, signalling and platform upgrades will enable longer trains and more frequent services and once completed will create the potential for three extra services per hour to leave from Lime Street station. Lime Street station is expected to close for a period in autumn 2017 and again in 2018, where alternative transport will be provided to passengers. Work is on-going to ensure services and access are maintained for customers with quality onward travel solutions such as rail to rail transfers where ever possible.

Liverpool underground upgrade

The final phase the on-going renewal of the riverbed and loop line ‘slab track’ – the railway track on the Wirral line and underground loop section of the Merseyrail network will take place between January and June 2017. This will improve the safety and reliability of services using the underground, which was built in the 1970s. Where previously this work has been undertaken piecemeal Network Rail are grouping the remaining elements together to reduce disruption and complete the works sooner.

Huyton to Roby upgrade

To enable faster services between Liverpool and the east, extra track will be built between Huyton and Roby stations to allow faster services to overtake local stopping services.  This work completes the work already undertaken at Huyton in 2014.

New Liverpool to Chester service – the re-opening of the Halton Curve

The full business case for the scheme is expected to be considered by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority at its meeting in April. If approved, work is expected to begin in June 2017 and be completed by May 2018.

It is proposed that a new service between Liverpool and Chester, serving Liverpool Lime Street, Liverpool John Lennon Airport, Runcorn, Frodsham and Helsby  will be created through the re signalling and upgrading of existing single direction track  on the Halton Curve. The existing line, which currently only runs one way passenger services in the summer, will be upgraded to provide a 2 way hourly service with connections to North Wales in the future.

The scheme is supported by Growth Deal funding to Merseytravel.

Weaver to Wavertree re-signalling

Re-signalling work on 16 miles of track between Edge Hill Station in the north and Winsford in the south will get underway this summer, with work starting in full in 2017.  Five signal boxes will be removed with control moving to the new state-of-the-art Manchester Rail Operating Centre, part of Network Rail’s wider modernisation programme.

Newton le Willows station

Newton le Willows station will be transformed, with improvements including a new bus interchange and extended car park facilities and a new booking hall on the south side of the station, with improved access to facilities via new lifts, subway and stairs. Rail users will also benefit from the electrification programme that is increasing capacity and shortening journey times between Liverpool and Manchester.

The scheme is supported by Growth Deal funding to Merseytravel.

Maghull North (new station)

A new station is to be created between Maghull and Town Green Stations on the Liverpool Central to Ormskirk branch of the Merseyrail network Northern Line to support increasing demand and extensive new housing and employment developments expected in the area. Work will include the creation of a new ticket office, provision of park and ride facilities and lifts and a footbridge to platforms.

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