Transport partners unveiled plans today to keep Liverpool open for business while its main railway station undergoes a three-week transformation this autumn.
Journeys through Lime Street will be affected for 23 days, from 30 September to 22 October, while Network Rail undertakes vital upgrades to enable the station to cater for a forecast doubling in passenger numbers during peak periods by 2043.
Part of a £340m railway investment programme by Network Rail and Liverpool City Region from now until 2019, the Lime Street station upgrade comes as the successful six-month renewal of the Wirral line concludes.
It is one of 10 major railway upgrades across the Liverpool City Region and sits within the wider Great North Rail Project to transform rail travel for customers in the North of England.
The transport plan will involve keeping people on the rail network wherever possible, diverting many mainline services to Liverpool South Parkway and getting people to and from the city on the Merseyrail network. Where rail replacement buses are offered, every attempt has been made to procure the best quality buses.
Martin Frobisher, Network Rail’s London North Western route managing director, said: “Our Liverpool Lime Street work is the biggest upgrade of the station since the 19th century.
“It will enable faster, more frequent and reliable train services by 2019. As Liverpool’s economy grows the railway is growing too.
“We are working with rail industry and the Liverpool City Region colleagues to keep the people of Merseyside on the move throughout the Lime Street closure.
“The short-term pain of re-routed commutes will be worth the long-term gain of transformed train travel in future.”
Frank Rogers, chief executive at Merseytravel, said: “The Liverpool City Region is bold in its ambitions for transport and other major infrastructure improvements and with that inevitably comes some disruption.
“However, we’re confident that we can keep people travelling to and from Liverpool for work, business or leisure in a way that may mean changes to their journeys, but one that remains a positive experience.
“This work to Lime Street is an important stepping stone towards long term improvements to the City Region’s capacity and connectivity. We’re making the case for full high-speed rail connections west-east, joining up north-south HS2 infrastructure with Northern Powerhouse Rail into Liverpool.”
Chris Nutton, major projects director at TransPennine Express, said: “The six train companies who serve Liverpool have been working together for more than a year to develop a plan that will keep customers moving during Network Rail’s important project.
“While there will be significant changes to regular services during this period, there will be alternative options available.
“Rest assured, we will be sharing this information in advance allowing customers to plan their journeys and consider any changes they may need to make.”
Jan Chaudhry, managing director at Merseyrail, said: “Merseyrail will play a vital role in keeping the city region moving over these three weeks, with our trains being used to carry passengers from further afield between Liverpool South Parkway and the city-centre.
Key transport projects like Lime Street, a gateway to the city region, will ultimately boost the local economy, and we are keen to get behind them.”
During the Lime Street works this autumn engineers will be remodelling station platforms, increasing them in number and in length. Work will also take place to install overhead line equipment to power electric trains and upgrade track.
This is the first of two phases of work at Liverpool Lime Street, with a further station closure planned in 2018. Once work is complete passengers will be able to enjoy three new services per hour in and out of Lime Street station, including new direct services to Scotland, more reliable services and a re-modelled concourse.
Meanwhile the Wirral loop line reopens on Monday, June 19 after a successful upgrade to maintain the long-term reliability of this key rail network.
Network Rail engineers have worked around the clock since January replacing 1.2km of concrete slab, repairing and realigning track and upgrading 1,100 yards of track below the river bed.
A co-ordinated City Region approach, which has seen passengers adapt well to changes to their journeys during each phase of the renewal, has been adopted in the preparations for the Lime Street works.