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