The local rail operator is still awaiting funding to support the drop in income during lockdown, despite Greater Manchester’s Metrolink receiving a £13m emergency package.
Over the weekend transport secretary Grant Shapps announced £283m would be allocated to bus and light rail services across the country, including £13m to assist Greater Manchester’s Metrolink network.
However, this did not include funding for Merseyrail, which is not classed as light rail.
According to a spokesperson for Merseytravel, Liverpool City Region is “still in discussions with the Department for Transport about potential funding for Merseyrail.”
Both Manchester metro mayor Andy Burnham and Liverpool City Region mayor Steve Rotheram issued a joint call on Government in April to put money into Metrolink and Merseyrail, to assist with the running of services at a time when passenger numbers and income had dramatically dropped.
At the time, the leaders warned that without Government funding, the networks could cease to operate. Rotheram said that while Merseyrail was “keeping its head above water”, the Government had been “slow to respond” to requests for support as staffing was still required to keep services at a functional level.
During lockdown, Merseyrail passenger numbers across the 75-mile network dropped by 83% compared to its normal monthly average. Some services have started to be reinstated over the past week following cuts in frequency.
Meanwhile, Transport for London has been granted a £1.6bn emergency package for its underground, overground and bus services as the drop in passengers left it at risk of going bankrupt.
A DfT spokesperson said: “The department has been working closely with Liverpool City Region to understand the implications of COVID-19 on the Merseyrail network. These discussions are ongoing.”