£340m is being invested in the railway in the Liverpool City Region
Upgrades to Liverpool Lime Street, the Halton Curve project and new Maghull North station are a few of the vital schemes that form part of a £340m railway investment in the Liverpool City Region by the end of 2019. This work also sits within the wider Great North Rail Project to transform rail travel for customers across the North of England.
Edge Hill signalling upgrade
Vital upgrades to the signalling system at Edge Hill have been completed on time.
Between Saturday 2 – Sunday 3 November, Edge Hill and Liverpool Lime Street station main lines were closed while the much-needed upgrade – to recontrol the signalling system from Edge Hill to Manchester Rail Operating Centre – took place.
This 21st century signalling upgrade will mean more reliable journeys for passengers and will help to minimise delays by enabling faster decision making on the railway.
This work was originally due to be completed over the late May bank holiday, but was cancelled when Network Rail were made aware of Super League's Magic Weekend taking place in Liverpool.
Due to the specialist equipment and engineers needed over other bank holidays for similar work elsewhere on the rail network, the work had to be rescheduled to a weekend closure.
As Edge Hill station is the gateway to Lime Street, trains were unable to run on any lines in and out of Liverpool’s main transport hub.
A robust alternative transport plan, using Merseyrail trains from Liverpool South Parkway and rail replacement buses, was in place over the weekend to keep passengers moving.
This latest upgrade follows the successful move of signalling control on the 22-mile stretch between Weaver Junction and Wavertree Junction, last year.
Several signalling control areas were moved to Manchester Rail Operating Centre, including Halton. Runcorn, Allerton Speke and Garston. Lime Street station itself was also upgraded to the same state-of-the-art signalling system during its £140m transformation between 2016 and 2018.
Merseyrail platform upgrades
A programme of upgrades to almost 100 platforms and track remodelling at 58 stations continues across the Merseyrail network.
The upgrades are part of a rolling programme of planned work which will prepare the Northern and Wirral lines for the arrival of new state-of-the-art trains in 2020.
This element of the work involves altering the height of station platforms and realigning track to ensure the new train’s sliding step can meet the platform edge. This will provide unassisted access for all passengers including wheelchair users, passengers with mobility difficulties and those with bikes, luggage or pushchairs.
The upgrades started in October last year, with eleven phases planned in total. Each phase was delivered in quick succession to complete as much work as possible in a short period. At some stations, more work was needed than the initial surveys and design had foreseen.
The decision was made to return to Rice Lane, West Kirby, Green Lane, Hamilton Square and Chester in September/October this year so that other phases of work weren’t delayed, which could have caused confusion for passengers.
To date, Network Rail have completed:
- Upgrades to 81 platforms at 47 stations
- 10,325m platform tiles (copers) remodelled
- 173,000 hours worked
- 11,000m track realigned.
Further planned work will also be taking place from later this year and into 2020 to ensure that all stations, and associated signalling infrastructure, are geared up to accommodate the new longer trains. Substation and cabling upgrades will also be completed to boost the power supply across the network.
Arriving in 2020, the trains will be safer, faster, modern and able to carry more people.
Other key schemes
The Wirral Loop Line fully reopened on Monday 19 June 2017 following six months of work to replace 1.2km of concrete track on the loop section of the Wirral line and 1.6km of ballasted track under the River Mersey.
Engineers worked around the clock to complete the upgrades in order to maintain the safety and reliability of this key rail network. Thank you to all passengers who adapted their journeys during each phase of the work.
The final phase of upgrades on the 1.5 miles of track known as the ‘Halton Curve' near Frodsham were completed, as planned, on Monday 28 May 2018.
These vital track and signalling upgrades have brought back into full use the section of the railway that links the Chester/Warrington line and the Liverpool/Crewe line at Frodsham Junction.
This enabled new hourly services to run, in both directions, between Liverpool and Chester. New Transport for Wales services began in May 2019, with some services extended to Wrexham in North Wales.
The installation and commissioning of the Huyton to Roby ‘4th track’ was completed during the first nine days of Phase One of the Liverpool Lime Street upgrade (30 September – 8 October 2017). Completed in two key stages, the first of which was in 2014, this has seen:
– The installation of 1200m of new track between Huyton and Roby
– A new platform built at Huyton and Roby
– Signalling upgrades and installing overhead line equipment on the line
– New facilties at the stations, such as better customer information systems, new lifts and easier access via subways – making the station fully accessible for the first time.
This additional fourth track will allow faster intercity services to overtake local stopping services, enabling faster journeys on the route.
Newton-le-Willows station has been transformed into a transport hub, with a new bus interchange, extended car park facilities and a new booking hall on the south side of the station. New lifts, subway and stairs have also improved accessibility at the station.
The new facilities were completed and open to the public in early 2019. The project was funded by the Liverpool City Region through Local Growth Fund and Merseytravel.
To keep both the station and the Liverpool to Manchester railway line open for passenger services throughout the project, an innovative horizontal piling method was used in the construction of the new subway which provides step-free access to both platforms via lifts.
Many passengers using this station also continue to benefit from the electrification programme completed along this route in 2015, where capacity has been increased and journey times have been shortened between Liverpool and Manchester.
The Weaver Wavertree project, covering 22 miles of railway in the Liverpool City Region, is complete. Work has been delivered over two phases:
- Phase one: May 2018, resignalling Halton and Runcorn. This also tied in with delivery of the Halton Curve project.
- Phase two: Christmas 2018, resignalling Allerton, Speke and Garston.
This project has enabled Network Rail to re-control these signalling areas to the central rail operating centre (ROC) in Manchester. This will result in more reliable journeys, boost capacity in the area and will help to minimise delays by enabling faster decision making on the railway.
The brand new Maghull North station in Merseyside opened on Monday 18 June 2018. It is situated between the existing Maghull and Town Green statins on the Merseyrail Northern line.
The station was constructed in nine months, with work commencing in September 2017. This has been a complex project, with the majority of the works delivered while keeping the railway line open.
The £13m scheme will improve access to training, education and employment for hundreds of local people and support demand from an adjacent new housing development of 370 new homes with a further 1,700 additional homes planned.
Facilities at the new station include:
Staffed station building and ticket office with passenger toilet facilities
Passenger waiting facilities on the platforms
New bus shelters and stops installed adjacent to the station on School Lane, providing a seamless link between local bus services and rail services operating from the station
156-space car park with blue badge and motorcycle parking facilities, as well as cycle storage.Pedestrian and cycle routes from School Lane and Park Lane to the station
Passive provision for future charging stations for electric vehicles
Step-free access via lifts and bridge between both platforms
The transformation of Liverpool Lime Street was completed in October 2018. Upgrades to track, platforms and signalling were completed on time and on budget, with the final stage taking place on Sunday 14 October 2018.
Platforms across the station were completely remodelled. Two brand new platforms built, and all others remodelled, widened and/or lengthened.
An extensive signalling upgrade was also been completed to allow more trains to run in and out of the station, more reliably. Signalling control was successfully moved over to centrally-operated Manchester Rail Operating Centre in July 2018. This means more reliable journeys for passengers, allowing faster decision making on the railway to minimise delays.
More, longer, better-managed platforms together with the station’s brand-new, state-of-the-art signalling system enables longer trains, with more space and more seats for passengers to run more reliably. These vital improvements have all been delivered within the station’s historic Grade-II listed building.
Commencing Christmas 2016, the majority of the work was delivered over two key phases; 30 September – 22 October 2017 and 2 June – 30 July 2018.
Fast stats: Liverpool Lime Street transformation
- 5,000-strong workforce totally over 1 million hours worked in total
- 4.7km track upgraded
- 26,000 tonnes of new ballast (railway foundation stone) installed
- 75 engineering trains used
- 11km of new overhead line wiring installed
- 25 new signals installed
- 65 new overhead line structures installed