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A Plan For Growth: Network Rail Consultation For Merseyside November 28, 2008

Posted by liverpoolchamber in Policy, Travel.
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trainOptions to meet the capacity challenge in Merseyside were unveiled today as Network Rail, on behalf of the rail industry, launched a consultation on a new strategy to shape the future of rail travel in the area.

The Merseyside Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS) predicts that passenger numbers using the Merseyside rail network could increase by 40% by 2020, and seeks to accommodate this demand by improving links between Liverpool city centre and Chester, north Wales, Southport, Ormskirk, Preston and Wigan.

The RUS looks at the impact population, employment and housing forecasts will have on demand for rail services, and subsequently estimates rail usage over the next 10 years in the context of longer-term growth. It sets out the industry’s preferred strategy that could be adopted to help meet this demand.


The draft document was drawn up in cooperation with a number of industry bodies including Merseyrail, Merseytravel and the Department for Transport. The consultation will last for 12 weeks and following consideration of any comments the strategy will be finalised and delivered to the Office of Rail Regulation next year.

Route director, Peter Strachan said: “The railway in Liverpool is flourishing, as Network Rail and our industry partners continue to make it one of the best performing in the country. As people increasingly choose rail as their preferred mode of transport, this success brings more challenges in accommodating more passengers while maintaining an efficient and reliable service.

“Consultation is a key part of the route strategy process and we look forward to hearing the views of a wide range of interested parties, including Merseyrail, Merseytravel, Liverpool City Council and regional development agencies.”

Bart Schmeink, Merseyrail’s Managing Director said: “Merseyrail is already one of the most intensively used railway networks in the UK and our high levels of punctuality and reliability attract more and more passengers. I want to make sure that we are able to keep pace with this growth so I look forward to contributing to this route strategy to make sure that we continue to provide the best possible train services for the people of Merseyside.”

Options considered in developing the strategy include:

Liverpool Central

Plans are being drawn up to increase capacity at Liverpool Central – the busiest station in the RUS area – to ease overcrowding.

The RUS recommends that an immediate package of investment should be carried out to increase platform capacity. It is seeking feedback on longer-term options to improve the station, and whether such work could be carried out earlier. The options being considered are:

2015 – 2020

Platform extensions to increase capacity further
2020 – 2025

More extensive work including a new underground platform or even building a new station
Other options considered in developing the strategy:

2009 – 2014

Programme to lengthen peak-time services in Liverpool with the introduction of a new train fleet in 2014
Increasing daytime services from Chester to Liverpool from every half-hour to every 15 minutes, matching peak-time frequencies, with shorter journey times
Schemes to increase linespeed to shorten journey times
2014 – 2019

Further train lengthening on most routes
Potential extensions to the Merseyrail network, such as a new route to Skelmersdale allowing through services to central Liverpool

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