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Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News - - Front Page - BY OLIVER CLAY oliver.clay@trin­i­tymir­ror.com @oliv­er­clayRWWN


F● INAL up­grades to the Hal­ton Curve rail line have been com­pleted as the project re­mains on track for the launch of reg­u­lar pas­sen­ger ser­vices later this year.

Mersey­travel said Net­work Rail’s Team Or­ange con­struc­tion crew fin­ished the works over the Bank Hol­i­day week­end, on sched­ule and un­der bud­get.

The up­grades will bring the sec­tion link­ing the Ch­ester-War­ring­ton and Liver­pool-Crewe lines at Frod­sham Junc­tion back into use, and will al­low an hourly ser­vice in both di­rec­tions be­tween Liver­pool and Ch­ester to be launched in De­cem­ber, stop­ping at Helsby, Frod­sham, Run­corn, Liver­pool South Park­way for Liver­pool air­port, and Liver­pool Lime Street, with fu­ture hopes to ex­pand it into North Wales.

The Frod­sham con­trol area has been re­vamped and the sig­nal box now houses a mod­ern sig­nalling panel to con­trol train move­ments in the area.

Mersey­travel said a more mod­ern, ad­vanced sig­nalling sys­tem has also been in­stalled at the other end of the Hal­ton Curve, with sig­nalling con­trol in Hal­ton trans­ferred to the state-of-the-art Manchester Rail Op­er­at­ing Cen­tre, to pro­vide ‘more re­li­able train the LCR as part of the multi-bilser­vices for pas­sen­gers for gen­lion-pound Great North Rail Proer­a­tions to come’.ject.

The £18.75m Hal­ton Curve Mersey­travel said the proposed project was funded through the hourly ser­vice op­er­ated by a Govern­ment’s Lo­cal Growth Wales And Bor­ders fran­chise Fund and the Liver­pool City holder start­ing in De­cem­ber this Re­gion (LCR) Com­bined Autho­ryear, will gen­er­ate 250,000 trips, ity, which in­cludes Hal­ton Cou­nun­lock­ing leisure and busi­ness cil. op­por­tu­ni­ties be­tween the LCR,

It has been de­vel­oped by the Liver­pool air­port, Cheshire and LCR, Cheshire West And CheshNorth Wales. ire Coun­cil, the Welsh GovernIt also sup­ports the air­port’s ment and a con­sor­tium of the six growth am­bi­tions by widen­ing its county author­i­ties in North catch­ment area. Wales. Steve Rotheram, LCR Metro

The works have been car­ried Mayor, said: “The Hal­ton Curve is out by Net­work Rail and form one of many am­bi­tious rail part of £340m of in­vest­ment in schemes across the Liver­pool City Re­gion be­ing de­liv­ered by the Com­bined Author­ity this year, in this case thanks to a sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment from the Govern­ment’s Lo­cal Growth Fund towards the £18.75m cost.

“In­creased ca­pac­ity and more fre­quent trains be­tween Liver­pool and Ch­ester, with a po­ten­tial to ex­pand into North Wales, will mean more peo­ple can travel more eas­ily – un­lock­ing many more op­por­tu­ni­ties, in­clud­ing the po­ten­tial for peo­ple in our city re­gion to find jobs in Cheshire and North Wales.”

Cllr Liam Robin­son, LCR trans­port chief, said: “It’s great news that the Hal­ton Curve scheme ● has been com­pleted both on sched­ule and within bud­get and we can’t wait for ser­vices to start run­ning later this year.

“While it may only be a one and a half miles long piece of track, it is the key to un­lock­ing so many more op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple in our city re­gion, Cheshire and North Wales.

“This is part of a £340m in­vest­ment in the city re­gion’s rail net­work by the end of 2019 that will im­prove con­nec­tions and the ca­pac­ity – in­vest­ment that only marks the start of our am­bi­tions, with fur­ther schemes in Maghull and New­ton-le-Wil­lows due for com­ple­tion in the near fu­ture.”

Ken Skates, Welsh Govern­ment Trans­port Sec­re­tary, said: “Im­proved rail con­nec­tiv­ity be­tween North Wales and Liver­pool will create sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic and social op­por­tu­ni­ties for pas­sen­gers and busi­nesses.

“To­day’s an­nounce­ment is a ma­jor step towards de­liv­er­ing these im­prove­ments.

“We will con­tinue to work closely with our cross-border part­ners in­clud­ing Mersey­travel to max­imise the op­por­tu­ni­ties and ben­e­fits that will arise from the new Wales and Bor­ders fran­chise and make it eas­ier for peo­ple to com­mute be­tween the re­gions.”

Martin Fro­bisher, Net­work Rail’s London North West­ern route man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, said: “The Hal­ton Curve project has been the per­fect ex­am­ple of the rail in­dus­try and Liver­pool City Re­gion work­ing to­gether to de­liver real ben­e­fits to the peo­ple of Liver­pool and be­yond.

“Im­proved rail links are vi­tal to boost the lo­cal econ­omy, and it is ex­pected that this key up­grade in the Liver­pool City Re­gion will boost the econ­omy by £100m.

“Our teams have worked tire­lessly since July 2017 to de­liver this work ready for the new timetable in De­cem­ber. This is an­other fan­tas­tic ex­am­ple of our Great North Rail Project de­liv­er­ing for cus­tomers across the North.”

Hal­ton Curve bridge over the River Weaver

A sec­tion of track on the Hal­ton Curve line

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