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Innovative project to bring new hydrogen buses and refuelling facilities to Liverpool City Region set to begin

A new project which is seeking to bring 20 hydrogen powered double decker buses to the streets of the Liverpool City Region will take an important step forward with the project business case and funding set to be approved at an upcoming Combined Authority (CA) meeting on 19 March 2021. The state of the art 0 emissions vehicles will be directly funded by the Combined Authority and, like the new trains for the Merseyrail network, will be owned by the people of the Liverpool City Region. The new buses will be powered by hydrogen fuel cells, safe and reliable technology which lends itself well to heavy duty vehicles such as buses. The project, which is set to secure a funding boost of up to ₤12.5m from the Transforming Cities Fund (TCF) is a key part of the Metro Mayor's:- 'Vision for Bus,' which commits to using the powers available through devolution to build a better, more reliable and affordable bus network for the Liverpool City Region.

The announcement also follows the publication this week of the Government's National Bus Strategy. Plans for the hydrogen bus project also include the building of refuelling facilities, which will be the 1st of their kind in the North West . Construction on the new hydrogen refuelling facilities is planned to begin later in the year. With the Metro Mayor having set a target for the Liverpool City Region to become net zero carbon by 2040, hydrogen buses will join the existing fleet in the City Region which is already more than 70% low emissions, via the use of cleaner engines, hybrid and electric power and bio-methane gas. It is anticipated that the buses will initially serve the 10A route between:- St Helens and Liverpool City Centre; the City Region's busiest bus route, operated jointly by Arriva and Stagecoach.

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region said:- "In the Liverpool City Region we are already leaders in green technology and the low carbon economy and this project, which if approved, will bring 20 brand new hydrogen powered buses to our streets is another very exciting step forward. The new state of the art vehicles will help our City Region tackle poor air quality and achieve our ambition of being net 0 carbon by 2040. And, like the new trains for Merseyrail network, they'll be owned by the people of the Liverpool City Region and can be built to serve their needs. It's another example of how we're using the power of devolution to make things greener and cleaner and improve our transport system to make it more reliable, attractive and affordable for everyone who lives and works here."

New lifts set to improve access for rail passengers in the City Region

NEW lifts will be installed at 5 Liverpool City Region Rail Stations giving passengers step free access to platforms as the Combined Authority (CA) confirms ₤9.8m from its Transforming Cities Fund will be invested into the schemes. With millions of pounds also secured by the CA from the Department for Transport's (DfT) Access for all Scheme, the upgrades will improve access for disabled passengers and those with prams and bikes as part of a wider vision to make the City Region rail network the most accessible in the country. Merseyrail will be leading on 4 of the schemes starting at Hunts Cross Station in May 2021 with the lifts completed by February 2022. Similar works at Birkenhead Park, Hillside and St Michaels will begin in May 2021, and complete in December 2021, and January 2022 respectively.

Northern is leading on the upgrades at Broad Green Station and more details will be available later in the year. This funding represents a further commitment to increasing the accessibility of the local rail network, with lift installations at:- Formby, Birkenhead North, Orrell Park and Meols now complete, and ₤8m worth of improvement works at Prescot Station well underway. These upgrades will also support the introduction of the new fleet of Merseyrail trains offering pioneering sliding step technology making Merseyrail the most accessible rail network in the country.

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region said:- "Devolution offers us the opportunity to do things differently. Since I was elected, I've been working hard to improve local transport. I want our Region to have a London style transport system that is quick, simple, affordable and accessible to all. We're investing nearly ₤10m to deliver step free access at a number of local Stations. When it's finished, it'll make things so much easier for people and drive us toward my ambition to make our transport network the most accessible and inclusive in the country."

Andy Heath, Managing Director for Merseyrail, added:- "This next wave of accessibility works reflect our commitment to meeting the needs of our passengers with mobility requirements. By installing new lifts at 4 Stations across the network, this will improve the travel experience for many passengers across the Liverpool City Region; not just those with mobility needs but also anyone travelling with prams, luggage or any other large items. Hopefully the completion of these works will encourage more people to use the train and reduce their carbon footprint, helping us to achieve a cleaner, greener Merseyrail."

Chris Jackson, Regional Director at Northern, concluded:- "Providing an accessible railway is a vitally important for Northern and we have made significant improvements across our network to help those with mobility needs. This includes a new mobility scooter scheme, enhancements at Stations and improved lift provision. I'd like to thank everyone involved in this project including our partner Liverpool City Region Combined Authority."

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