Merseyrail strike compounds Lime Street closure

Rail commuters in Liverpool will have to navigate the closure of Lime Street Station from the end of this month, after which they will be diverted onto Merseyrail services from South Parkway, to find staff on strike for two days next week.

Merseyside’s main station will close for refurbishment by Network Rail between 30 September and 22 October [see below for full list of services and dates affected]. Martin Frobisher, Network Rail’s London North Western route managing director, explained: “With passenger figures set to double during peak periods by 2043, the Liverpool Lime Street upgrade is vital to transform train travel for passengers in the future. Our work will enable faster, more frequent and reliable train services to run in and out of the station by 2019.”

The concourse of Lime Street mainline station will remain open for retail and tickets, there will be no mainline rail services entering or leaving the station for nine days. Train customers will be kept on trains wherever possible. Many main line rail services will be diverted to Liverpool South Parkway so people can access the city on the Merseyrail network.

However, strikes by RMT union members on the Merseyrail network and on Northern train services are due to take place on Tuesday 3 and Thursday 5 October.

RMT is preparing for strike action in four separate disputes over the threat to guards and safety as private train operators press ‎ahead with plans to extend driver only operation, which the union claims puts private profits before public safety. Merseyrail and other train operators say the plans are safe.

The strike action will take place on Southern and Greater Anglia as well as Northern and Merseyrail and Greater Anglia. The balloting process is also underway in a further dispute on South Western Railway. A spokesperson for RMT said: “Pickets will be out in force in all of the disputes and will be taking the message to the public that the axing of the guards is part of a co-ordinated strategy driven by the Government as they push for a faceless railway dominated by a lethal combination of staffing cuts and private profiteering.”

Network Rail said “plans are being put in place to help ensure that alternative travel arrangements for the Lime Street Station works will still be effective.”

A spokesman for Network Rail added: “The Lime Street upgrade is the biggest transformation the station has seen since the 19th Century. It is one of 10 major railway upgrades that make up the £340m railway investment in the Liverpool City Region by the end of 2019, and sits within the wider Great North Rail Project to transform rail travel for customers in the north of England.

“Once complete in 2018, the work will enable an extra three services per hour in and out of Lime Street station, including new direct services to Scotland. Longer, better managed platforms will allow bigger trains, with more space for passengers, in and out of the station.”

For the first nine days of the closure, engineers will also be working to complete the installation of the fourth track between Huyton and Roby. This will allow faster no-stop intercity services to overtake local stopping services along this route.

Chaudhry-van der Velde, managing director of Merseyrail, said: “The Merseyrail network provides fast, frequent and reliable travel around the city region, complementing the longer distance rail services available from Lime Street, and promoting economic benefits to the city through business, commuter and leisure travel.

“During the temporary closure of Lime Street station, we will operate a 15-minute service between Liverpool South Parkway and the centre of Liverpool at Moorfields, using full length trains to maximise capacity.

“Changing from train to train at our modern and spacious station at Liverpool South Parkway is quick and easy. The South Parkway connection will enable us to play a supportive role in helping to maintain ‘business as usual’ in the city.”

Over the 23 days, engineers will continue work to remodel station platforms, increasing them in number and in length. Work will also take place to install overhead line equipment to power electric trains and upgrade track.

This is the first of two phases of work at Liverpool Lime Street, with a further station closure planned in summer 2018.

Plan your journey

Journeys via Liverpool South Parkway

Mainline services from destinations such as Manchester, London, Birmingham, Leeds, York and Crewe will start and terminate at Liverpool South Parkway, Merseyrail network taking passengers to and from Moorfields station in Liverpool city centre.

Tickets will be valid on the Merseyrail network during the work so there is no need to purchase a separate ticket.

It is estimated that transferring onto the Merseyrail network should add only 10-15 minutes to journeys. There will be four trains per hour, Monday to Saturday, and two to four trains per hour on Sundays, depending on the time of travel.

Journeys via Hunts Cross

Services via stations between Warrington and Hunts Cross will start and terminate at Hunts Cross. Passengers can choose between an express rail replacement bus service, non-stop between Hunts Cross and Moorfields station in the Liverpool city centre or a stopping service calling at stations on the City Line: Liverpool South Parkway, West Allerton, Mossley Hill and Edge Hill to and from Liverpool Lime Street.

The express rail replacement bus service will run every 15 minutes, Monday to Saturday, and every 30 minutes on Sunday. This will add, approximately, up to 18 minutes onto journeys, based on peak-time travel.

Stopping rail replacement bus services between Hunts Cross and Liverpool Lime Street will run every 30 minutes, Monday to Saturday, and every hour on Sunday. This will add, up to 22 minutes onto journeys.

Journeys via St Helens and Huyton

Between 30 September and 8 October, services between Manchester Victoria, Wigan, the Lakes, Scotland, Blackpool and Preston will start and terminate at St Helens Central or St Helens Junction. Quality rail replacement bus services will offer an express, limited stop service and a stopping service calling at all stations on both routes.

Express/limited stop services calling at St Helens Central, Huyton and Liverpool Lime Street or St Helens Junction, Lea Green, Huyton, Wavertree Tech Park and Liverpool Lime Street will run hourly on Monday to Saturday. Stopping services, calling at all stations, will run every 30 minutes, Monday to Saturday, and every hour on Sunday.

From 9 October until 20 October, limited rail services will run in and out of Liverpool Lime Street between 6am and 8pm. For services before 6am and after 8pm, quality rail replacement bus services will run between Huyton and Liverpool Lime Street.

On the final two days, 21 – 22 October, services will start/terminate at Huyton station with quality rail replacement bus services on hand to get you to/from Liverpool Lime Street. On Saturday, they will run every 15 minutes and on Sunday every 30 minutes.

The rail replacement bus service calling at all stations between St Helens and Liverpool Lime Street will add, approximately, up to 60 minutes to your journey. Those travelling on the express/limited stop service will need to add approximately 35 minutes to their journey. From Huyton station, rail replacement bus services will add approximately up to 28 minutes to journeys all based on peak-time travel.

Weekend work on the Ordsall Chord in Greater Manchester from now until 23 October will also mean there will be some changes to services in and out of Manchester Victoria. Passengers are advised to check before they travel.

For more information on the schemes that make up the £340m rail investment in the Liverpool City Region by the end of 2019 visit


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Wirral line passengers have had enough! We had to suffer weeks of disruption during the track renewal. There have been several track faults since it was renewed and now another strike. Little wonder the trains are half empty.

By Karen Alsop

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