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Skip Navigation LinksMerseytravel > Travel Updates > Wirral Loop Line Track Renewal

 Wirral Loop Line Track Renewal


Wirral loop line track renewal - what you need to know

A summary of the works and what it means 

Network Rail is carrying out major track renewal work to the Merseyrail Wirral loop line and under river track between 3 January and June 2017, in three phases.

During this time, the biggest changes will be to cross river services but there will also be temporary changes to all Wirral line services. However, everyone who travels in the city region, either on the train, by bus, ferry or in a car, is encouraged to bear in mind what’s happening and the potential impact the works may have on your journeys so you can plan ahead. 

Lots of information and travel options are available – visit Merseyrail, follow #trackrenewal on Twitter or pick up a  booklet from any Merseyrail station.

2017 - Dates for your diary

Phase 1: Tuesday 3rd January – Sunday 12th February
For six weeks all Wirral line trains will start and finish at Birkenhead North and Birkenhead Central Stations. Express rail replacement buses will run between these stations and Liverpool.

Phase 2: Monday 13th February – Monday 29th May

For 15 weeks, all Wirral line trains will start and finish at James Street station from Monday to Friday. At weekends, all services will start and terminate at Birkenhead North and Birkenhead Central Stations. Rail replacement buses will run between Wirral and Liverpool stations at weekends.

Phase 3: Tuesday 30th May – Sunday 18th June

For 20 days, all Wirral line trains will start and terminate at Birkenhead North and Birkenhead Central. Express rail replacement buses will run between these stations and Liverpool.

Information for Phase 2

How you can help:

  • Bear with us. While trains will run in and out of James St on weekdays from 13th February, the experience will be improved for passengers from Monday 20th February when two platforms will be back in use.
  • Avoid catching the train to and from James St at peak times wherever possible. This will help keep queues to a minimum. If you work, speak to your employer about whether there is any flexibility in working times, or make the most of leisure activities on whatever side of the river you’re travelling home from.
  • Leave more time for your journey, James St will be the only station in the City Centre where you can catch Wirral line trains so it will be a lot busier than usual.  During the track renewal people may choose to travel in different ways, making the transport network busier so allow more time for your journey. Whether you travel cross-river by train, bus, ferry or car.
  • Consider your options: Different ways of travelling may suit your needs depending on where you need to go and at what time.


What rail users need to know:

Merseyrail Wirral line

Customers will be affected especially those using cross river trains.

  • James St station will be back in use Monday to Friday and for special events. Services will be running to the same timetables as during Phase  1.
  • Weekends will see a continuation of the rail replacement service between Birkenhead and Liverpool
  • Trains will not run around the city centre ‘loop’ for the duration of the track renewal works, with the 10A bus an alternative .
Please note that the first week of this phase (13th -17th February) will present challenges as only one platform will be available at the station. However by week two, two platforms will be in use improving the service on offer.
At weekends, trains will start and finish at Birkenhead North and Birkenhead Central and will not run across the river or round the city centre loop. There are a number of alternative travel options: high quality, express rail replacement, existing cross-river bus services and the Mersey Ferries.
There will be special arrangements for weekends over the Grand National Festival, Easter and the May Bank Holidays, with trains starting and terminating at James Street
There is also be specific advice for cyclists and other people with travel needs at
Advice: Check timetables, plan your route, take into account extra journey time.

Northern Line

You are not affected.

Mainline services

If you use mainline services from Lime Street or Liverpool South Parkway you will not be affected unless you use the Wirral line for part of your journey.
Merseyrail tickets are valid on the 10A bus which you can use to travel around the ‘loop’ – between James St, Moorfields, Lime Street and Central.
At weekends rail replacement buses will arrive at and leave from St Georges Plateau adjacent to Liverpool Lime Street Station and from Moorfields to help you make your connection.
Advice: Check timetables and take into account longer journey times.

Rail replacement buses

Rail replacement buses will be running at the weekends.
At weekends, the high quality ‘express’ buses, with on-bus  WiFi,  will run directly from Birkenhead Central and Birkenhead North to Moorfields Station and St George’s Hall (for Lime Street Station), with return buses at least every 15 minutes.
There will be additional services to ensure people can still catch early morning mainline trains.
Merseyrail tickets are valid on these buses and on the 10A bus which you can use to travel around the ‘loop’ – between James St, Moorfields, Lime St and Central.
Advice: Plan ahead and take into account extra journey times

What bus users need to know:

There are 14 existing cross-river bus services that run between Wirral/Chester and Liverpool. 

As rail service frequency will be reduced on the New Brighton and West Kirby lines during track renewal, rail users may want to take advantage of cross river bus services during this time with the 432/433 (New Brighton-Liverpool service) running every 15 minutes and the 437 (West Kirby-Liverpool service) running every 8 minutes.

The following links take you to the route information and timetable details.

NB: Merseyrail tickets are only valid on rail replacement buses (and the 10A), not existing bus services.

Click here for more information about tickets.

Advice: Check bus timetables for changes, plan your journey, take into account that buses maybe busier. You can also plan your journey on bus by using our journey planner.

Mersey Ferries

Services will be running as usual.

Morning commuter services from Seacombe to Liverpool Pier Head begin at 7.20am and run at about 20 minute intervals until 9.40am.

Evening services from Liverpool Pier Head to Seacombe begin at 4pm and also run at about 20 minute intervals until 6.40pm.

Cross-river rail tickets can be used on all Mersey Ferry services until Sunday 19th February to help customers while only one platform is in use at James St station. After this date, you will still be able to use cross-river rail tickets on the Mersey Ferries at weekends.

The additional Mersey Ferries commuter services (starting at 4pm) will remain until Friday 31st March 2017, after which the summer timetable begins. The commuter service will start from 5pm from Monday 3rd April, however commuters can use their tickets to sail on the 4pm River Explorer service which still calls at Seacombe.

There is free parking at Seacombe for 370 cars, and buses serve the area. 

The Mersey Ferries are a great option for cyclists. As there are rail restrictions for cyclists throughout Phase 2 of the track renewal works, they can continue to use valid cross-river rail tickets on any Mersey Ferry.

There is an offer for Mersey Ferries commuters throughout February, with three months for the price of two when you buy a quarterly commuter ticket.

During peak commuter times, if the ferry isn’t running for any reason (e.g. as a result of poor weather), a replacement bus service will run between Seacombe Ferry Terminal and Hamilton Square train station. Ferry commuters can then continue their journey to Liverpool James Street, by train.

Off peak passengers can still use the ferry to make cross river journeys.

A full timetable of all cross river journeys is available at Mersey Ferries.

Advice: Plan your journey.


Car & the Mersey Tunnels

While there will be cross-river rail services Monday to Friday, people may still choose to make their journeys in other ways during the track renewal works.

The tunnels can’t cope with an increase in cars, especially at peak times. Congestion will increase journey times for everyone. 

Advice: Stick to public transport where possible. If you have to drive, avoid travelling at peak times wherever possible and leave more time for your journey. Car parks are available at a number of Merseyrail stations, including 670 spaces at Birkenhead North. Check before you travel and take into account that park and ride car parks may be busy and fill up earlier.



There is specific advice for cyclists  information is available on the Merseyrail website.

As there are rail restrictions for cyclists throughout Phase 2 of the works, you can continue to use valid cross river rail tickets on any Mersey Ferry.
A limited bike bus service is available, with options for secure cycle storage at stations or bike rental through Bike & Go. More information is available on the Merseyrail website

Remember that throughout Wirral loop line track renewal, fold-up bikes can be taken on trains and rail replacement buses.

Advice: Plan your journey and take into account information
Assisted Travel
You will still be able to travel cross-river, including by rail Monday to Friday but there may be specific information and advice depending on your needs.

At weekends, passengers will be transported on rail replacement buses or other suitable vehicles.

More information is available at on the Merseyrail website

Planning your journey

If you need help planning your journeys you can call  Merseytravel on 0151 236 7676, Mondays to Fridays 7am – 8pm, Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays 8am – 8pm. (closed on Christmas Day) or Merseyrail Customer Relations team on 0151 555 1111, Mondays to Fridays 7am-7pm

Lots of information and travel options are available - go online, follow #trackrenewal on Twitter or pick up a booklet from any Merseyrail station.


Merseytravel, PO Box 1976, Liverpool, L69 3HN
Tel: 0151 227 5181  |  Fax: 0151 330 1234