£340m railway upgrade planned for Liverpool City Region: Liverpool Lime Street station

Monday 21 Mar 2016

£340m railway upgrade planned for Liverpool City Region

Region & Route:
| North West & Central

Liverpool City Region (LCR) train passengers are to benefit from £340m of rail improvements over the next three years.

The investment, by Network Rail and the Liverpool City Region – much through Government’s Growth Deal funding– will provide passengers with faster, more frequent and more reliable train services by 2019.

The improvements - part of Network Rail’s nationwide Railway Upgrade Plan - will help meet a forecast 100% increase in demand for rail travel across the region[i].

They will pave the way for additional services, such as planned new First Transpennine Express services from Liverpool to Glasgow in 2019, and new Liverpool-to-Chester services. 


Of the £340m, Network Rail is contributing £229m with the Liverpool City Region putting in £111m.

The work will include:

  • building new and longer platforms at Liverpool Lime Street station to accommodate more services and longer trains
  • renewing tracks on the underground loop on the Merseyrail network
  • adding additional track between Huyton and Roby to allow faster trains to overtake local services
  • building a 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.

Cllr Liam Robinson, Chair of Merseytravel said: “We welcome this investment. It’s essential in keeping the Liverpool City Region moving now, and in the future. Network Rail’s investment is in addition to the funding we have secured from Government for certain key schemes and also that we’ve raised locally.

“It’s helping deliver the first stage of our 30-year Long Term Rail Strategy, supporting economic growth by boosting connections and capacity within the City Region and beyond. We see this as essential incremental improvement ahead of transformational schemes such as high speed links north-south and east- west to ensure we fulfil our potential as a key player in the ‘Northern Powerhouse’

“The work to take forward these schemes will, in some cases, mean significant changes to how people make their journeys. We see ourselves as the passengers’ champion, working with Network Rail and train operators to ensure that they have the best plans possible in place to minimise disruption to residents, visitors and business.”

Louise Ellman, MP for Liverpool Riverside and Chair of the Transport Select Committee said: “This multimillion pound investment will give Liverpool a first class station with better local, regional and national links. It is another vital step in Liverpool’s regeneration.”

Joe Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool, and Chair of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority said: “It’s a welcome sign of our success and growing economy, with more jobs and businesses, that there is more demand for train services to travel both around the city region and beyond.  This investment will mean real improvements for people in every corner of the city region, while we continue to lobby hard for the big transformational investments like HS2 and HS3.”

First TransPennine Express Programme Director Chris Nutton said: "These upgrades will secure a huge improvement in the services that the train operating companies can provide to the Liverpool City Region. For TransPennine Express these works will allow us to introduce new trains with more carriages and new direct services to Glasgow and Edinburgh in 2018/19

Sara Wilde McKeown Chair of the LCR Visitor Economy Board said: "The service improvements and additional routes are pivotal for enhancing the competitiveness of the region's visitor economy.  

“Whilst the works will bring short term disruptions, following early engagement with Network Rail and Merseytravel we are confident that the contingency measures being put in place will minimise inconvenience and provide visitors with a different, but seamless journey experience.  

“We recognise that our strong sense of welcome will be key for making this a success and we will be meeting Merseytravel and Network Rail at regular intervals to contribute towards, and support their forward planning."

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

The final phase the on-going renewal of the riverbed and loop line ‘slab track’ – the railway track on the Wirral line and underground loop section of the Merseyrail network will take place between January and June 2017. This will improve the safety and reliability of services using the underground, which was built in the 1970s. Where previously this work has been undertaken piecemeal Network Rail are grouping the remaining elements together to reduce disruption and complete the works sooner.

Huyton to Roby upgrade

To enable faster services between Liverpool and the east, 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 re-opening 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 2 way hourly service with connections to North Wales in the future.

The scheme is supported by Growth Deal funding to Merseytravel.

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 state-of-the-art 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. Rail users will also benefit from the electrification programme that is increasing capacity and shortening journey times between Liverpool and Manchester.

The scheme is supported by Growth Deal funding to Merseytravel.

Maghull North (new station)

A new station is to be created 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, provision of park and ride facilities and lifts and a footbridge to platforms.

The scheme is supported by Growth Deal Funding to Merseytravel.

The LCR improvements are part of Network Rail’s Northern Programmes - several billion pounds’ worth of work included in the company’s £40 billion nationwide Railway Upgrade Plan, delivered across the five years to 31 March 2019. The plan is designed to provide more capacity, relieve crowding and respond to the tremendous growth the railway has

seen - a doubling of passengers in the past 20 years. The plan will deliver a bigger, better railway with more trains, longer trains, faster trains with more infrastructure, more reliable infrastructure and better facilities for passengers, especially at stations.

For more information and to see this investment brought to life in an animation visit www.networkrail.co.uk/lcr


Notes to editors

Liverpool City Region Growth Deal Funding

In March 2014 the Liverpool City Region LEP secured a total of £232m of Local Growth Fund from the Growth Plan that was submitted to Government. This Plan outlined an ambitious vision of unlocking the region’s potential with the long term goal of achieving economic growth and job creation.

For more information visit https:/www.liverpoollep.org/economic-strategy/growth-deal/  

The Liverpool City Region’s Long Term Rail Strategy is available via the Merseytravel website: http://www.merseytravel.gov.uk/about-us/corporate-information/Pages/Corporate-Documents.aspx

Invite to interview:

Monday March 21: Simon Evans, Network Rail head of communications for the London North West Route will be available for interviews at Lime Street Station at Liverpool Lime Street station between (7-10am and 4-6pm).

Detail of schemes


Brief Description

Ditton Intermodal Freight Connection

A new rail connection between Ditton freight sidings and the 3MG site adjacent to the railway. 

Halton Curve

Enhance a single line single directional line to a bi-directional line and increased services for passengers

Huyton-Roby 4th Track

Install a fourth track, and associated signalling and electrification to deliver a more frequent and reliable services

Liverpool Lime Street remodelling and Edge Hill Re-control

Platform and track remodelling and signalling enhancements. Re-control of Lime Street and Edge Hill control areas into MROC.

Maghull North New station

New station on the DC Ormskirk branch which includes lifts, stairs, footbridge, ticket office and car park

Lime Street Station Retail Improvements

3,000 sq ft of additional retail space and minor remodelling of station public areas

Merseyrail Loop Slab Track Works

Renewal of slab track under the Mersey Estuary and around the loop line

Merseyrail New Rolling Stock Infrastructure

Upgrade of Merseytravel rail infrastructure to support the introduction of new rolling stock proposed for early 2020s

Newton le Willows interchange

Station enhancements which include new south side booking hall, lifts, new subway and stairs. Works will include the creation of park and ride facilities and bus interchange located on south side of station 

Weaver Wavertree Re-signalling

Affects a 16 mile stretch of WCML between Weaver Junction to Wavertree Junction.

Removal of five independently controlled signal boxes and re-control into  the Manchester Rail Operating Centre.


[i] Growth in passenger numbers is known from the regional urban market study. By 2043 there will be double the number of passengers entering Liverpool in the morning peak, from 20,200 – 40,400 in 7am – 9am window.   It is one of four Market Study documents produced as part of the Long Term Planning Process. Together, the London and South East, long distance passenger market studies and the freight market study set out how passenger and freight demand is expected to change in each of these markets in Britain over the next 30 years.

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