Work gets underway on 'Halton Curve' to boost Liverpool City Region,
Cheshire and North Wales rail links
WORK has started on the 1.5 miles of rail track, known as the
'Halton Curve,', that will unlock leisure and business opportunities between the
Liverpool City Region, its airport, Cheshire and North Wales.
Leaders and key officials, on Friday, 14 July 2017, have marked the occasion
by going track side onto the 'Curve.'
The Halton Curve scheme, delivered by Network Rail, is bringing back into full
use the section of the line that links the Chester / Warrington line and the
Liverpool / Crewe line at Frodsham Junction.
Vital upgrades to track and signalling on the curve will enable a new hourly
service, in both directions, between:- Liverpool and Chester, serving Liverpool
Lime Street, Liverpool South Parkway (for Liverpool John Lennon Airport)
Runcorn, Frodsham and Helsby.
The services, proposed to start running from December 2018, will generate
250,000 new trips, boosting the economy by ₤100m.
While the service will be initially 1 train per hour, it's expected that
demand would strengthen the case for increased frequency, especially with plans
for services to be extended into North Wales; something currently being
considered as part of the forthcoming Wales and Borders franchise.
As journeys between the Liverpool City Region, West Cheshire and North Wales are
currently largely car dependent, it's expected that the new service would remove
the need for 170,000 road journeys helping reduce demand on key routes such as
the M56 and A55.
The upgrade forms part of Network Rail's Great North Rail Project which will see
over ₤1bn invested in the railway across the North, as part of the national
Railway Upgrade Plan.
This project, due to cost a maximum ₤18.75m, is being funded through the
Government's Growth Deal and the Liverpool City Region. It is being developed by
the Liverpool City Region, including:- Halton Council, Cheshire West and Cheshire
Council, the Welsh Government and a consortium of the 6 county authorities in
Said Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region:- "I welcome the
spade being put in the ground on a project that has long been an ambition for
many. People shouldn't be constrained in their work or leisure opportunities, as
there are so many to be had across our City Region, Cheshire and North Wales.
These can start to be fully realised through this much needed link.
This isn't a project in isolation, but part of the overarching vision for
connectivity within the Liverpool City Region and the wider North to join
up North South HS2 rail infrastructure with West East Northern
Powerhouse Rail to Liverpool."
Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry said:- "Liverpool was home to the
world's 1st passenger railway, and now the City region is reclaiming its status
at the forefront of rail connectivity with the Halton Curve. The Government has
invested more than ₤16m in the Halton Curve, as part of our plans to improve
transport across the Northern Powerhouse. Just as the Northern Powerhouse is a
long term Government priority, this investment will provide lasting benefits
with a predicted ₤100 million boost to the local economy."
Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns said:- "This is a significant
milestone on the way to making travel between North -West England and
North Wales much easier and I am delighted that the UK Government has been
able to help make it happen. When completed, the line will improve links between
Liverpool and North Wales, providing benefits for businesses, commuters and
tourists, and unlocking the potential for economic growth in North Wales."
Said Liam Robinson, Chair of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority
Transport Committee which oversees the work of Merseytravel:- "The Halton
Curve may only be one and a half miles long but 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."
Said Martin Frobisher, Network Rail's Route Managing Director for London North
Western:- "The Halton Curve scheme is the perfect example of the rail
industry and Liverpool City Region working together to deliver real benefits to
the people of Liverpool and beyond. As with the many projects we are
delivering across the North, as part of our Great North Rail Project, this
is about providing passengers with more options and boosting the economy in key
towns and cities through improved rail links. Upgrading track and
signalling will breathe new life into this 1.5 mile stretch of track, ready for
new services from December 2018."
Councillor Samantha Dixon, Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council and Chair
of the cross-border Growth Track 360 rail taskforce said:- "The Halton
Curve is a central proposition in the Growth Track 360 rail investment
prospectus. This is one of the critical investments which will have a
transformational effect on rail services, not only in our borough but across
North Wales and the Mersey Dee region. It will improve links to Liverpool
for our residents and businesses."
Welsh Government Economy and Infrastructure Secretary, Ken Skates said:-
"This is a huge development for public transport and much welcomed. Improving
rail connectivity between North Wales and Liverpool offers huge economic
and social opportunities for both regions. There has always been a strong
cultural link between the regions and the Investment in Halton Curve will only
serve to strengthen this. I look forward to delivering further joint transport
initiatives with the Liverpool City Region, particularly as we develop our North
East Wales Metro vision for a truly integrated transport system for the area."
Robin Tudor, Head of PR and Communications for Liverpool John Lennon Airport
commented:- "This is a project that the Airport has supported and been
pursuing for many years and it is great to see work finally get underway. This
scheme will soon mean that airport users in North West Cheshire along with
future passengers from right across North Wales, will have the opportunity to
access the Airport with its growing range of services by rail via Liverpool
South Parkway Rail Station. The Halton Curve is just as important for the
increasing numbers of inbound visitors using Liverpool John Lennon Airport as a
gateway to the region too, providing far easier onward access to tourist
destinations including Chester and areas across North Wales."
Said Ced Green from the North Cheshire Rail Users' Group:- "We have
been campaigning for the Halton Curve to be re-instated since way before the
Strategic Rail Authority proposed full closure in 2004. We, and others, stopped
that happening but it was another 10 years before any real progress was made. So
we are delighted that work has now started in bringing this short, but vitally
important section of the network, back into full operation. It is a
massive first step in changing the dynamics of the public transport offer in the
sub-region and beyond. It will assist in harnessing the economic synergy which
exists between North and North East Wales and Merseyside and will also
assist the development of the tourist market by providing easy access to
Liverpool John Lennon Airport via Liverpool South Parkway."