Network Rail has started work today on an £18.75m upgrade to the ‘Halton Curve’ with new train services out of Lime Street expected to be up and running by December 2018. Tony McDonough reports
Work has started on an £18.75m upgrade to the ‘Halton Curve’ – enabling new rail services between the Liverpool city region, cheshire and North Wales.
The track and signalling work on the curve will see the launch of a new hourly service, in both directions, between Liverpool and Chester.
It will serve Liverpool Lime Street, Liverpool South Parkway (for Liverpool John Lennon Airport) Runcorn, Frodsham and Helsby.
Being undertaken by Network Rail, the work will bring back into full use the section of the line that links the Chester/Warrington line and the Liverpool/Crewe line at Frodsham Junction.
The services, proposed to start running from December 2018, will generate 250,000 new trips, boosting the economy by an estimated £100m.
While the service will be initially one train per hour, it’s expected that demand would strengthen the case for increased frequency, especially with plans for services to be extended into North Wales.
This is currently being considered as part of the forthcoming Wales and Borders franchise.
As journeys between the Liverpool city region, West Cheshire and North Wales are currently largely car dependent, it’s expected that the new service would remove the need for 170,000 road journeys.
The upgrade forms part of Network Rail’s Great North Rail Project which will see over £1bn invested in the railway across the north, as part of the national Railway Upgrade Plan.
Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram, said: “I welcome the spade being put in the ground on a project that has long been an ambition for many.
“People shouldn’t be constrained in their work or leisure opportunities, as there are so many to be had across our City Region, Cheshire and North Wales.
“These can start to be fully realised through this much needed link.
This isn’t a project in isolation but part of the overarching vision for connectivity within the Liverpool City Region and the wider North to join up north-south HS2 rail infrastructure with west-east Northern Powerhouse Rail to Liverpool.”