Business and rail leaders mark five years of rail advancement in the Liverpool City Region

Publish date

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

​Business and transport leaders have met today (Wednesday 20 March) to mark an unprecedented level of investment in the Liverpool City Region’s rail network.

The event celebrated the achievements of the first five years of the Liverpool City Region’s (LCR) 30 year, long term rail strategy whilst also looking to the future, with the local launch of Transport for the North’s Strategic Transport Plan which aims to supercharge connectivity across the North and commits to new high-speed links to Liverpool.

£340m will have been invested in LCR rail schemes by the end of 2019, with an additional £460m currently being invested in locally owned, state-of-the-art trains and infrastructure for the Merseyrail network.

Under TfN proposals, Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR), a new £39bn investment, would connect LCR to HS2 via a new twin track line between Liverpool, Manchester and then on to other northern cities.

The benefits of this to the Liverpool City Region alone would be £15bn in economic growth, 24,000 new jobs, 11,000 new homes and 3.7m more visitors a year.

2014 was a landmark year, with civic and business leaders coming together to start to successfully build and put forward the case for a link between Liverpool and the newly announced HS2 programme. It was also the year that the long term rail strategy was approved by the newly created Liverpool City Region Combined Authority – the first strategy developed locally, rather than by the rail industry and with a focus on economic growth.

“The last five years has seen our rail ambitions grow, and with a real shift in focus from the infrastructure itself to what it can deliver for the economy, opening up new opportunities and promoting social inclusion, not least by helping create more jobs and connect people to them.

“Our passenger numbers will more than double in the next 30 years, with freight demands increasing too.

"Our plans for better local connections as well as those regionally, across the north and nationally sees us pushing beyond and challenging the confines of our current rail network – one which limits capacity and our potential, as well as reinforcing outdated geographical borders which don’t reflect the changing economic picture and people’s modern lives.”

Steve Rotheram

Metro Mayor for the Liverpool City Region

“We’ve achieved a lot in the last five years, working together as a City Region, with the rail industry and as part of Transport for the North.

“New and improved stations, new routes and new trains, including our state-of-the-art trains soon to arrive on the Merseyrail network, set the tone and momentum for the coming decades.”

Cllr Liam Robinson

Transport Portfolio holder for the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority

“It’s been a momentous few months for the North as leaders approved the Strategic Transport Plan and backed the high-level business case for Northern Powerhouse Rail.

“Alongside locally-led improvements, the programmes outlined in our investment programme will transform connectivity for the people of the Liverpool City Region, and across the North. Northern Powerhouse Rail will bring an additional three million people and 90,000 more businesses within 90 minutes of the city centre and reduce journey times to Manchester to 26 minutes or less.

“Today was an important opportunity to talk to leaders from the Liverpool City Region, and outline how Northern Powerhouse Rail, and the wider rail and road programmes will further boost the fortunes of one of the UK’s most iconic cities and the wider city region.”

Tim Wood

Northern Powerhouse Rail Director at Transport for the North

“Maintaining the economic argument for investing in the North is imperative but in doing so we need to make sure that we do not alienate our local businesses and communities through the language we use.

"We need to translate the positive messages of longer term investment, highlighting the practical on the ground experiential improvements that the big picture schemes will bring.”

Paul Cherpeau

CEO of Liverpool and Sefton Chamber of Commerce

“Rail plays an invaluable role in supporting the cultural ‘mega events’ Liverpool and the wider region is famous for.

"Investment in our rail infrastructure is also a key component to developing a world class integrated transport offer which is fundamental to growing our booming visitor economy.”

Cllr Wendy Simon

Deputy Mayor of Liverpool and cabinet member for culture and tourism

Headline rail achievements to date:-

  • A new Merseyrail station at Maghull North, a major reconstruction of Newton-le-Willows and Ainsdale stations; an additional 1200 car parking spaces across the City Region’s rail network, including at St Helens, and improved accessibility with station lifts installed at Birkenhead North, Formby and Meols (underway).
  • Completion of the ‘Halton Curve’ enabling services to Chester and Wrexham from Lime Street from May this year, calling at Liverpool South Parkway, Runcorn, Frodsham and Helsby.
  • £150m invested in the re-modelling of Lime Street Station as part of Network Rail’s nationwide Railway Upgrade Plan, enabling new and more frequent services to Glasgow and London later this year.
  • Station and depot works to get the Merseyrail network ready for the new trains, currently being built, to enter service from 2020. 

Future plans:-

  • Working as part of TfN to get Government to commit investment for Northern Powerhouse Rail, developing a preferred route and working as part of a new Station Commission on a new city centre station, in addition to Lime Street, to accommodate the new 400m long high-speed trains.
  • Developing plans for an extended Liverpool Central Station – the busiest underground station outside London.
  • New and more frequent routes including a half hourly service to Wrexham and Bidston on the Borderlands line from 2021, new services to Cardiff made possible by the Halton Curve and supporting Lancashire County Council in developing an outline plan for a new line to Skelmersdale – the second biggest town in the country without a rail station, including a new station at Headbolt Lane, Kirby.
  • More new stations – prioritised by how they support City Region priorities and their value for money.
  • Exploring the potential for local ownership of stations to act as a catalyst for investment and growth.
  • Promoting greater use of the rail network for freight, with consideration of rail connected logistics sites in the City Region and enhanced connectivity for the Port of Liverpool.
  • The creation of a new smart and contactless ticketing system with online payment options, for use across the Liverpool City Region transport network and across the north through our work with Transport for the North.