Services on the Halton Curve are expected to start by December 2018, the rail minister has confirmed.
Halton MP Derek Twigg submitted a question asking transport secretary Chris Grayling when he expected the Halton Curve to open.
Mr Twigg’s question was answered by rail minister Paul Maynard, who said that construction work on the project will begin next year and that services will commence by the end of 2018.
Mr Maynard said: “Following its inclusion in the Liverpool City Region Growth Deal, Merseytravel is managing the development and delivery, via Network Rail of the devolved Halton Curve scheme on behalf of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.
“Construction work on the scheme is expected to begin in June 2017 and be complete by Spring 2018.
“Merseytravel anticipate that services will commence between Liverpool and Chester at the December 2018 timetable change, following the finalisation of agreements with operators and staff training.”
The Halton Curve is a one-and-a-half mile railway line that links the North Wales Coast Line to the Liverpool section of the West Coast Main Line.
It was closed in 1975, but was earmarked for re-opening after receiving £10.4m funding as part of the Liverpool City Region Local Growth Deal.
Campaigners have welcomed the start date for passenger services on the route.
Chief executive of Campaign For Better Transport Stephen Joseph said: “This is great news for local people who now have a date from when they can expect to start using the new passenger services.
“We campaigned for this missing link to be reinstated so we’re pleased to hear that the opening is now in sight.
“Filling in the missing links in our rail network offers the most cost effective way of alleviating congestion, reducing social isolation and improving the economy.
“Rail re-openings have huge local support, are good for business and can offer economically deprived areas a new lease of life.
“You only have to look at the number of passengers using the new stations and lines to see how viable and popular they are.”
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