As train users throughout the region struggle with controversial timetable changes and ongoing performance issues, services in and out of Liverpool Lime Street are to be heavily affected for eight weeks, starting from Saturday 2 June.
The second phase of a £340m redevelopment programme at the city’s main railway station will see the station’s platforms remodelled, being extended in number and in length, with the goal of making the station fit for an anticipated doubling of passenger numbers by 2043. Lime Street was fully or partly closed for three weeks last year.
Overhead line equipment will also be installed or renewed to power electric trains as the station is made fit to handle an increased volume of services, with three further trains an hour expected from 2019 including direct services to Scotland. Work is scheduled to be fully complete by this October.
However, there will be heavy disruptions. Although Lime Street will not completely close, all mainline services – those operated by Virgin, London Northwestern, East Midlands and Northern – from London, Sheffield, Nottingham, Birmingham, Crewe, Warrington and Manchester stations excluding Victoria – terminating at Liverpool South Parkway.
Those who travel to Lime Street from Manchester Vicotira, Wigan or Preston will be able to travel directly into and out of Lime Street between 6am and 8pm between 11 June and 13 July, with services terminating at Huyton at all other times and rail replacement buses running into the city.
Local transport body Merseytravel said: “The plan is to keep passengers on trains wherever possible, diverting many mainline rail services to Liverpool South Parkway and getting people to and from the city on the Merseyrail metro network.
“Where rail replacement buses are required, they will be high quality, and offer express options, to make sure you can complete your journey as quickly as possible.”
In the longer term too, there are concerns for Liverpool travellers, with users of Liverpool South Parkway, which serves a key commuter area but is also a station billed as the hub for Livberpool John Lennon Airport, in particular being hit.
Like Warrington Central and Birchwood, South Parkway is no longer used by the TransPennine services that run to Leeds and beyond through Manchester, raising concerns that the city is being left out of a Northern Powerhouse conversation too heavily dominated by Manchester and Leeds.