First trains run on re-opened Halton Curve

There will now be hourly rail services linking North Wales and Cheshire to Liverpool, due to the £14m reopening of the Halton Curve track.

Services will be hourly from Chester, calling at Helsby, Frodsham, Runcorn, Liverpool South Parkway and Liverpool Lime Street.

There will also be two direct services per day from Wrexham General and one direct from Liverpool to Wrexham. The first train from Wrexham departed at 6.35am today.

This is the first service to run direct from North Wales into Liverpool for over 40 years. Future plans will see more journeys into Wales, with some services running to Cardiff via Shrewsbury and to Llandudno.

The service is targeting 250,000 new trips on the line, and hopes to remove the need for 170,000 journeys on road via the M56 and A55.

The Halton Curve scheme is the re-opening of a 1.5-mile stretch of track near Frodsham which links services from Chester onto the West Coast Mainline into Liverpool. Work to bring the track back into full use began in July 2017 and was completed by Network Rail in May 2018.

The £14.5m Halton Curve project has been backed by the Government’s Local Growth Funding, along with direct capital from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority. The final cost has come in under the projected £17.95m budget.

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: “One of the Combined Authority’s key priorities is the delivery of major improvements in connectivity for our area and this is an example of us achieving that through new links into North Wales and Cheshire.

“The Halton Curve is one of many ambitious rail schemes across the Liverpool City Region that have been delivered by the Combined Authority, working together in partnership with a number of organisations.

“This is only the start of realising the benefits that re-opening the Curve will bring and the future plans for services linking the city region with Cardiff and the North Wales coast can only benefit us further.”

The Halton Curve project was developed by the Liverpool City Region, including Halton Council, Cheshire West & Cheshire Council, the Welsh Government and a consortium of the six county authorities in North Wales. The works have been delivered by Network Rail.

It forms part of a planned £340m investment in rail in the Liverpool City Region by the end of 2019 and also sits within the Great North Rail Project.

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A vast improvement for the line, at long last! It would be interesting for these improvements to complement the redoubling of the line between Chester and Wrexham, perhaps we could finally enjoy a 30 minute service between Shrewsbury and Chester on one of the most overcrowded parts of the Wales and Borders network!

By NorthShropsLad

Raily good news.

By Oh Mr Porter!

So many railway lines are under-used or abandoned because they may not make a Commercial profit but the Economic profit would be huge. If train firms, commercial developers and councils did proper economic audits (by say Oxford Economics) These would easily justify reopening many lines/stations and then adjacent property prices would sky-rocket. Any local govt “subsidy” would in fact be an investment repaying itself many times (incl. extra local tax revenues). Think: in Economic Accounting money goes around in circles, while in Commercial Accounting their is only profit or loss. We must stop considering merely business cases and start considering economic cases for construction projects. The latter are invariably more convincing arguments.

By James Hayes

Based on that image I am assuming £14m did not cover upgrade of the signalling system!

By UnaPlanner

Really good news story – under budget too. Smashing

By Mark in Manchester

What use is this?! what we need are trains coming and going from liverpool to Llandudno Junction! People want to get to the holiday regions in North Wales, not a grubby town in the middle of nowhere, with nothing to do except waste one’s time trying to get to the seaside towns.

By Mogsworth.

And now a loop line to Liverpool Airport? It would provide easy access for passengers from North and Mid Wales, plus the Midlands as well as from Merseyside itself. Reopen Ditton station, and have new stations at Hale, Speke , LJLA, and Estuary Park on the way to South Parkway. Build the line now before the area becomes fully built up

By Forward Thinker

An extension of the Merseyrail Northern Line to LJLA, plus a loop off the West Coast Mainline to the airport would be a great boost to the number of passengers . Why not extend the Wirral Ellesmere Port Line to LJLA via the Halton Curve, using dual fuel trains? Makes economic sense

By Ambitious

The fact that we now have a ‘Mersey Loop’ still doesn’t seem to have landed? The North Wales / Chester route is all good, but what about the movement / mobility opportunities created around the Mersey basin, connecting major areas of employment with major areas of residential (and need). A route Wirral / Elles Port / Runcorn / South Liverpool / Liverpool Centre opens up significant mobility.

By The bigger picture...

Not double tracked though is it!
Why go through all this work and not double track the line and introduce more services!?
Where’s the foresight? Why limit ourselves to one train per hour
Absolutely bonkers!!

By Kayla Bibby

Wonderful – I struggle to understand why they closed it in the first place. Next radical idea is a direct connection to Liverpool airport from South Parkway. A capital spend on the railways in the NW of £14m is to us like winning the lottery!

By Grand-M

Great news, about time things got moving again.

By Paul in Widnes

Great news ….make sure we measure the economic benefits and outcomes immediately as evidence for similar builds asap. Could TfW or A N Other operator look at linking more journeys via the Halton Curve to the Wirral line via junction at Helsby ?

By TopherJ

The DIRECT link to LJLA really does need to be next BIG priority! Plan the whole thing in: Merseyrail; national rail; and do it in phases, Merseyrail first. The airport is less than 2 miles from both, and most of the land is not built on!

By Roscoe

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