Network Rail and the local authorities of Liverpool City Region are to spend £340m on an ambitious package of works to increase capacity and produce faster services by 2019.
Funded partly by Network Rail and the remainder through Government’s Growth Deal funding for Liverpool City Region, the work is aimed at meeting a forecast 100% increase in demand for rail travel across the patch. Network Rail is contributing £229m with the Liverpool City Region putting in £111m.
There will be severe disruption for passengers, however, with parts of the Wirral Line closed for six months and Lime Street station closed twice temporarily.
The work will include:
- building new and longer platforms at Liverpool Lime Street station to accommodate more services and longer trains, including a new First TransPennine service to Glasgow in 2019
- renewing tracks on the underground loop on the Merseyrail network
- additional track in the form of a bypass line between Huyton and Roby to allow faster trains to overtake local services
- 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
Network Rail has been working closely with partners to ensure that robust alternative travel arrangements are in place while these improvements are carried out. 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.”
Merseytravel is the strategic transport advisor to the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and project lead for a number of the schemes.
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
Track on Wirral Line and underground loop section of the Merseyrail network will take place between January and June 2017.
Huyton to Roby upgrade
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 reopening 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 two-way hourly service with connections to North Wales in the future.
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 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.
New station 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, park-and-ride facilities, lifts and footbridge.