A series of planned closures over the Easter period will pave the way for additional hourly services between Liverpool and Chester, faster travel between Manchester and Stalybridge, and the introduction of new trains between Manchester and Preston.
Network Rail said Manchester Victoria has now closed to train services on Sundays until 3 April. This will allow engineering works to take place on the Manchester to Stalybridge line, where Network Rail will lower the track under the Cheetham Hill Road bridge to allow for faster services.
Work is still ongoing between Manchester and Preston to support full electrification and the introduction of improved rolling stock by the end of the year. As part of this work, there will be no trains running through Bolton at weekends until later this year.
In Merseyside and Cheshire, works will be carried out to upgrade track and signalling on the Halton Curve, which links the Chester-Warrington line and the Liverpool-Crewe line at Frodsham Junction.
These works will allow a new hourly service to run in both directions between Liverpool and Chester, which is scheduled to begin in December. Other works include a resignalling programme between Weaver and Wavertree to improve the network’s reliability.
Martin Frobisher, route managing director for Network Rail, said: “The Great North Rail Project is really gathering pace and Team Orange will be out in force over Easter as we continue to work on the biggest upgrade of the railway since the Victorian era.
“Once the project is complete, passengers from across the north will benefit with improved links, quicker travel times and more reliable journeys by 2020.”
Liam Sumpter, regional director for Northern, added: “We look forward, together with our customers, to the completion of engineering work across the region.
“When complete, this work will pave the way for our brand new and fully refurbished trains – giving Northern’s customers better, brighter, faster and more comfortable journeys than ever before.”
Network Rail also announced it would carry out the final phase of Liverpool Lime Street’s upgrade this summer.
Lime Street has already seen a series of upgrades including remodelling of platforms, bringing two additional platforms into use, and signalling works. These were completed late last year.
The station will remain open as the works are carried out between 2 June and 29 July this year, but some services will start and terminate at Liverpool South Parkway during the eight-week works programme.
Frobisher added: “We cannot safely complete the majority of the work while the station is open so have carefully planned it, with our partners, to cause the least amount of disruption to passengers as possible.”