St Helens is set to move out from the local rail league and onto the national stage with new, high quality rail links to major destinations around the UK.
Following this week’s announcement of new Northern and TransPennine Express franchise awards, the borough is set to be connected as never before.
Currently, St Helens is only connected by rail to Preston, Manchester, Liverpool and Wigan but the latest announcement will see the borough having direct connections to places throughout the North and into Scotland.
Recent investment has allowed the provision of new long distance services from St Helens stations to key economic centres such as Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
In the future rail travellers can expect to see:
· Increased services throughout the evening and weekend from most stations in the borough.
· Brand new trains equipped with wi-fi.
· New direct services to Glasgow and North West England from St Helens Central (three a day in both directions).
· More services to Manchester from Earlestown and Newton-le-Willows.
· New direct services from St Helens Junction, Earlestown and Newton-le-Willows to Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland.
· A direct service to Manchester Airport
· Additional services from Earlestown and Newton-le-Willows to Warrington/Chester – Manchester/Yorkshire.
St Helens Council Leader Barrie Grunewald said: “I can’t overstate how important this news is. Quite simply St Helens will be easier to get to – making it a far more attractive proposition for potential investors who can create jobs for our residents.
“It will also open up new employment opportunities around the North West for people from St Helens. Changing trains in other towns will become a thing of the past for many of our travellers.”
Among the major changes is the launch of a new direct, three times a day, service between Liverpool Lime Street and Glasgow and an hourly direct TransPennine Express service to Edinburgh – both stopping at St Helens. It means local travellers no longer need to change at Wigan or Preston.
Changes will also see improved connections between the Northern cities, with a commitment to four fast services an hour (TransPennine Express & Northern) between Lime Street and Manchester and two per hour between Liverpool, Leeds and York (TransPennine Express), as well as more services to Preston (Northern & TransPennine Express.)
A further boost will see the introduction of a new early Northern service from Lime St to Manchester Airport via Newton-le-Willows, arriving no later than 04:45am.