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News Report Page 8 of 9
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1st North Wales to Liverpool rail service in over 40 years has started

LIVERPOOL City Region's Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram, is celebrating the start of 1st North Wales to Liverpool rail service in over 40 years. Steve Rotheram has hailed the new opportunities for work and leisure that new services between Liverpool and North Wales, via the re-opened Halton Curve will bring.

The Metro Mayor, was among key partners in the scheme and he welcoming the 1st service from Wrexham to arrive at Lime Street, Livepool, on Monday, 20 May 2019, at 7:59am. Operated by Transport for Wales, the 1st service called at:- Chester, Helsby, Frodsham, Runcorn and Liverpool South Parkway on its new route to Live Street. Services between Chester and Lime St via the Halton Curve will run 7 days a week, from Sunday, 19 May 2019, with services between Wrexham and Liverpool currently running Monday to Saturday, with 2 trains a day, towards Liverpool and 1 towards Wrexham.

This is the 1st service to run directly from North Wales into Liverpool for over 40 years. Future plans will see more journeys into Wales, with some services running to Cardiff via Shrewsbury and to Llandudno.

The new service will generate 250,000 new trips, unlocking leisure and business opportunities between the Liverpool City Region, Cheshire, and North Wales. 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.

It also supports Liverpool John Lennon Airport and its growth ambitions, opening up a much wider catchment for national and international leisure and business travel.

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said:- "This is 1 of the Combined Authority's key priorities, the delivery of major improvements in connectivity for our area and this is an example of us achieving that through new links into North Wales and Cheshire. The Halton Curve is one of many ambitious rail schemes across the Liverpool City Region that have been delivered by the Combined Authority, working together in partnership with a number of organizations. This is only the start of realizing the benefits that re-opening the Curve will bring and the future plans for services linking the City region with Cardiff and the North Wales coast can only benefit us further."

The Halton Curve scheme has seen the re-opening of a 1.5 mile stretch of track near Frodsham which links services from Chester onto the West Coast Mainline into Liverpool. Work to bring the track back into full use began in July 2017 was completed by Network Rail in May 2018.

Ken Skates AM, Welsh Government Minister for Economy and Transport, said:- "I'm delighted to be launching the new Transport for Wales rail services between North Wales and Cheshire to Liverpool. Each day thousands of commuters travel between North Wales and North West England meaning excellent rail connectivity is vital to the economy on both sides of the border. By providing 215 new services per week, we will strengthen links with our cross border neighbours which will create important economic and social opportunities. Improving access will also provide a boost to our local communities and regional tourism sector, attracting more visitors to Wales. I'd like to thank all partners involved in this project and I look forward to continuing our close working relationship for the benefit of all rail users."

The ₤14.5m Halton Curve project has been funded through the UK Government's Local Growth Funding, which is awarded to the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and invested through the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority's Strategic Investment Fund, along with direct capital funding from the Combined Authority. The final cost has come in under the projected ₤17.95m budget.

It has been 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 North Wales. The works have been delivered by Network Rail.

It forms part of the ₤340m investment in rail in the Liverpool City Region by the end of 2019 and also sits within the Great North Rail Project; a multi billion pound investment plan to transform train travel across the North.

Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth Minister Jake Berry MP said:- "It's fantastic to witness the reopening of the Halton Curve which will see the 1st service to run direct from North Wales into Liverpool for over 40 years. With over ₤16 million of investment from the Local Growth Fund, the new line will help to connect the people and businesses of Liverpool City Region, Cheshire and North Wales; boosting the Northern Powerhouse economy and creating a transport network fit for the 21st Century."

Karla Telford, Network Rail project manager for the Halton Curve upgrade, added:- "Our major track and signalling upgrades on the Halton Curve; a relatively small stretch of track near Frodsham; were completed on time and under budget in May 2018. The upgrade forms a vital part of our Great North Rail Project and unlocks new work and leisure opportunities between the Liverpool City Region, its airport, Cheshire and North Wales. Improved rail links are vital to boost the local economy. It's incredibly exciting to see the new hourly Liverpool to Chester services in operation and welcome the 1st direct service from North Wales to Liverpool in over 40 years."

James Price, Transport for Wales CEO said:- "Transport for Wales is investing ₤5 billion to transform the transport sector throughout the Wales and Borders network and we're incredibly excited to see the introduction of the new services linking north Wales and Cheshire with Liverpool. It will be a major economic boost for the area and the fact Transport for Wales are delivering 215 brand new services a week, really underpins our commitment to building a better transport network for all. This project saw an immense amount of hard work, dedication and investment by so many individuals and agencies and shows just what can be achieved by collaborative working. We are approaching our 1st 6 months at Transport for Wales and this is another important milestone as we continue to deliver our vision."

John Irving, CEO of Liverpool John Lennon Airport also commented that:- "The opening of the Halton Curve will bring important public transport connectivity for parts of North Wales and North West Cheshire which have been devoid of a link to the Airport until now. The Airport has been a supporter of this strategic rail improvement ever since it was first suggested and whilst it has been a long time in coming, we are delighted to now see trains travelling on the Halton Curve, able to transport passengers from North Wales and North West Cheshire to and from Liverpool South Parkway and on to Liverpool John Lennon Airport via the regular bus services that connect the 2."

Asif Hamid MBE, Chair of the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) responded to the news of the opening saying:- "Our view as a LEP is that growth across the North can best be enabled by the private sector working in partnership with the public sector to identify and support key infrastructure projects. Initiatives such as the Halton Curve are central to the City Region's continued growth and I am delighted to see this project completed, which will undoubtedly improve connectivity thereby creating further business and tourism opportunities for our City region and the wider North."

You can find out more about the scheme now, via visiting:- LiverpoolCityRegion-CA.Gov.UK.

Liverpool Bay Tidal Power Project is being revisited

TIDAL Energy or Tidal Power as it is so often called, is another form of hydro power. In this case Tidal Power utilises large amounts of energy within the tides to converts the energy obtained into electricity. Tides are more predictable than the wind and the Sun, so interest has often been expressed in using the sea around the UK for electricity generation. Currently there are 8 main sites around Britain where Tidal Power stations could operated efficiently, including the Severn, Dee, Solway and Humber estuaries. But Liverpool is on that list, but until recently the Mersey Tidal Power project has been mostly passed over, due to environmental and shipping concerns. But the Liverpool City Region's Metro Mayor has recently announced that he has chosen a team of consultants, including:- Arup, ABPmer, BECG, and Grant Thornton, to draw up an outline business case for a Tidal Power scheme on the Mersey.

The hope that a project to harness the Tidal Power of the river Mersey and Liverpool Bay will bring in thousands of jobs for local people, during the construction Phase, as well as well into the future. But also, if it can be achieved, with minimal issues to both shipping and the unique wildlife habitats in and around the Mersey and Liverpool bay area.

The kinds of jobs that would be created and supported by a successful Mersey tidal project include:-

► Designers, architects and technicians.
► Marine contractors.
► Construction workers.
► Fabricators.
► Assembly yard workers.
► Operations and Maintenance Engineers.

Steve Rotheram said:- "The unique geography of the River Mersey and Liverpool Bay makes us 1 of the only places within the UK that has the potential to generate plentiful, predictable, green tidal electricity. Tidal Power has the potential to generate a huge amount of renewable energy, helping us to hit our target of being 0 carbon by 2040, while boosting economic growth for everyone in our City Region. That is why making this project a reality would create thousands of jobs for local people. Devolution gives us the scale and powers necessary to pursue this kind of transformative project and the opportunity to shape the skills we need for our local economy. That is why we're moving forward to the next stage, which is creating an outline business case to demonstrate the viability of a Tidal Power project. As the whole world seeks to move beyond its dependence on carbon, we have an opportunity to build on our existing strengths in tidal research to develop a world leading Tidal Power industry. If we are successful in delivering this project, we would become a global leader in tidal technology and export our expertise around the world."

If it gets the green light, the project will go along way to helping the Liverpool City Region to become a:- '0 Carbon City' by 2040. "Our low carbon sector already generates ₤2 billion a year and supports 22,000 jobs across wind, solar and hydrogen energy. With our vision and the right backing from Government, we can add tidal to the mix and become Britain's Renewable Energy Coast." added Steve.

It is thought that a tidal energy scheme for the River Mersey and Liverpool Bay could have the potential to generate up to 4 times the energy of all of the wind turbines currently within the Liverpool Bay. Liverpool City Region Combined Authority noted that this power would be enough to power up to a million homes, 500 football stadiums, or send an electric train around the world, 3554 times!

This next Phase of the tidal project will see the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority work with a team of technical and financial advisers, with experience of delivering major infrastructure projects, to develop the outline business case over the next 12 months. If they find that project's outline is variable, after looking at the technical, financial and environmental issues, the Combined Authority will then consider progressing to the next stage.

If this is true, Tidal Power has the potential to generate a huge amount of renewable energy, while boosting economic growth for everyone in our City Region, and creating thousands of jobs in its design, construction and beyond.  We would love to know what you think about this idea. Please email us to:- News24@SouthportReporter.Com with your thoughts on this issue.

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