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.
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.
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. 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.
Chris Brown, Director of Marketing for Marketing of Liverpool said. “With such a large programme of works across multiple projects we need to ensure residents, businesses and visitors are well informed and can plan their journeys efficiently so that they can still enjoy all the benefits Liverpool city region has to offer. In doing so we can also show that as a city region collectively we are deal with big infrastructure projects with ease and welcome more large scale investment in the future”