Liverpool Central, Britain's busiest underground station outside London, is closing on Monday for a £20m refurbishment that poses a 'huge challenge' to many retailers in the city centre.
The cramped and worn-out station is certainly in need of a serious facelift but improvements will come at a cost to footfall and pedestrian flows around Bold Street, Renshaw Street, Berry Street, Hanover Street and neighbouring routes. An estimated 15m people a year pass through Central station.
The £20m refurbishment will deliver bigger, safer platforms, better access for disabled passengers, brighter waiting areas and improved toilet facilities.
The Wirral line platforms will be closed for four months and Northern line for six months, reopening in late October. Train services will operate as normal – but they will pass through the station without stopping.
Ged Gibbons, chief executive of City Central Business Improvement District, said: "The closure of Central Station is a huge challenge and one which we have risen to tackle head on by engaging as many partners as possible over the past year to deliver our best ever summer events programme to help stimulate trade for our businesses."
The BID's Summer of Love schedule, supported by a £200,000 advertising and marketing campaign, includes a bandstand in Williamson Square, a grandstand in Calyton Square for people to watch the Olympics on the big screen. There will be a 'light night' art tour on Bold Street, a ping-pong-table festival in July and August, art events in Queen Square. Retailers have been encouraged to offer discounts and special offers.
The station works have been planned by Merseyrail, Merseytravel, Network Rail and Liverpool City Council. The Merseyrail franchise is operated by a joint venture between between Serco and Abellio.
During the closure double-decker buses will act as a replacement service on a loop around all the city centre stations – Liverpool has four underground stops – around the city centre, running every 15 minutes. There will also be a shuttle bus from Brunswick station on the dock road south of the city centre to Berry Street to try and maintain routes up towards the university district. Extra train carriages will operate at busy times of the day.
Alan Stilwell, Merseytravel director of integrated transport, said: "We have worked and campaigned long and hard to bring this investment to the region, and we thank passengers for their patience and understanding as we work with our partners to deliver the scheme with as little disruption as possible."
Network Rail gave Place the following details of the work schedule:
"We will have up to 35 workers on site at any one time, working a maximum of two shifts with the majority of work being weekdays in a high street environment. Protective fencing will be erected along the platform edge.
The trades will be:
- Demolition and strip out of existing cladding with limited specialist asbestos removal
- Removal of rubber flooring and wall tiles
- Specialist fire proofing of various substructure elements
- Installation of new vitreous enamel and powder coated steel cladding
- New ceramic wall and floor tiling
- Associated electrical work to above including lighting
- Replacement of four escalators and one staircase
Project Office and compound is at Lime St Station with satellite welfare at Central.
All materials will be delivered 'just in time' and there will nightly removal of demolition waste. All access is from ground level with the exception of the delivery and removal of one escalator, which will be by road and rail into the Northern platform from Brunswick Street.