Getting ready for new trains

Wed, November 21st, 2018

Next phases of platform improvement works announced

Phase 2 of a programme of platform upgrades to prepare the Merseyrail network for the arrival of new, state of the art trains in 2020 is now underway.

This follows the successful completion of Phase 1 by Network Rail on sections of the Ormskirk line on the morning of Saturday 10 November before services resumed. Upgrades to platforms and remodelling track took place at Walton, Orrell Park, Aintree, Old Roan, Maghull, Town Green, Aughton Park and Ormskirk stations.

Details of the next two phases of the programme are below.

Phase 2 - 12 November to 16 December closure of Bank Hall station.

Train services will not be disrupted on this line as they will continue running through the station, although they will not stop there. High quality rail replacement buses are in operation between Bank Hall and Sandhills stations to keep passengers moving to/from Liverpool, Kirkby, Ormskirk and Southport. Alternatively passengers may prefer to make their own way straight to Bootle Oriel Road, Kirkdale or Sandhills stations to start their journey.

Phase 3 - 27 December to 2 January Wirral Loop Line and river crossing will be closed.

From 27 December to 2 January New Brighton and West Kirby trains will start and terminate at Birkenhead North, and from 27 December to 1 January Ellesmere Port and Chester trains will start and terminate at Birkenhead Central.

Rail replacement buses will operate between Birkenhead Central station and Liverpool, and Birkenhead North station and Liverpool. There will also be a shuttle bus operating between Birkenhead North, Birkenhead Park, Conway Park, Hamilton Square and Birkenhead Central stations. This mirrors the plans which were successfully used during the Wirral Loop Line Track Renewal programme in 2017. Further information including timetables is available at Merseyrail stations and on the Merseyrail website.

These vital works need to happen to ensure that station platforms across the Merseyrail network are compatible with the new trains and their ground breaking, sliding step technology that will provide unassisted access for all.

This will mean that wheelchair users can board the train without a ramp and passengers with prams and cycles can get on and off the train with ease. This technology represents a pioneering approach for the UK.

There are 11 phases of work scheduled between October 2018 and June 2019. More information about each phase, rail replacement services and alternative travel options will be made available a few weeks before the start of each phase.

Merseytravel, Merseyrail and Network Rail have worked collaboratively on this project and significant planning work has been carried out to minimise the time needed to complete these important works and reduce disruption to passengers.

Businesses and organisations are advised to think about what they may need to put in place to support staff and customers.

Key advice:

  • You can still get to where you need to go
  • Check before you travel, especially during the Christmas period as timetables may change. Closures are taking place at different locations at different times on the network so it's important to keep checking what's happening and when. Some timetables may change
  • Plan ahead – use journey planners
  • Leave more time for your journey. Timetables may change and your journey may be longer
  • Consider avoiding travelling at peak times where possible
  • Consider your options –including commercial buses and the Mersey Ferries
  • Wayne Menzies, Merseytravel's Head of Rail said: "The Wirral loop line is one of our busiest interchanges and while we appreciate that people will want to travel to Liverpool over the Christmas holidays, our figures show us that this is its quietest time of year, which is why we’ve scheduled the work to take place. We will be using the same plan as we did during the Wirral Loop Line Track Renewals last year which were well received by passengers, and so we are confident that people’s travel arrangements won’t be hampered too much.

“We've got to complete these works. It's really important that passengers know what's happening so they can plan ahead and if we work together we can keep everyone moving and the City Region will remain open for business.”

Andy Heath, Managing Director at Merseyrail said: “It’s fantastic news that the Ormskirk line is now ready for the new fleet of trains and we’re pleased that passengers now have their usual service restored when it was promised. This work is vital to prepare our network for the arrival of the new state-of-the-art trains in 2020 and in particular the sliding step that will allow unassisted access for all our passengers. A lot of work has gone in to minimising disruption as much as possible while this work takes place and both high quality rail replacement buses and our staff will be available to help keep everyone moving."

Marcus Barnes, Senior Sponsor for Network Rail, said: "We're delivering vital upgrades to 100 platforms and realigning track at 58 stations across the Merseyrail network to make sure they're ready for new trains in 2020.

"This investment is part of a huge package of works across the Liverpool City Region and sits within our Great North Rail Project.

"Adjusting the height, width and layout of the platforms is more complex than it may sound and we'll need to close sections of the line to complete these vital works safely.

"Many of these upgrades may not be obvious to passengers, but are key to enable improved access onto new Merseyrail trains using the new sliding step technology."

For more information and further details about how your rail journeys will be affected visit the Merseyrail website. Information is also on the Merseytravel website.

To see what goes on behind the scenes check out our time lapse video of the platform upgrades at Walton station.

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