The final phase of the £18.75m Halton Curve upgrade has now been completed – with regular passenger services set to begin later this year.
Network Rail’s Team Orange successfully completed the final works on the curve over the Bank Holiday, finishing the scheme on schedule and within budget.
The track upgrades will bring back into full use the section of the line that links the Chester/Warrington line and the Liverpool/Crewe line at Frodsham Junction.
It also will enable a new hourly service, in both directions, between Liverpool and Chester from December this year; serving Liverpool Lime Street, Liverpool South Parkway (for Liverpool John Lennon Airport) Runcorn, Frodsham and Helsby, with future hopes to expand the services further into North Wales.
The Frodsham control area has been re-signalled and the signal box now houses a new modern signalling panel to control train movements in that area.
At the other end of the Curve, a more modern, advanced signalling system has also been installed, with signalling control in the Halton area transferred to the state-of-the-art Manchester Rail Operating Centre, which will mean more reliable train services for passengers for future generations.
The Halton Curve project has been funded through the Government’s Local Growth Fund and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and developed by the Liverpool City Region, Cheshire West and Cheshire Council, the Welsh Government and a consortium of the six county authorities in North Wales although the works have been delivered by Network Rail.
It forms part of the £340m investment in the Liverpool City Region and also sits within the Great North Rail Project – a multi-billion pound investment plan to transform train travel across the north.
The proposed new hourly service operated by the new Wales and Borders franchise holder, starting in December, will generate 250,000 new trips, unlocking leisure and business opportunities between the Liverpool City Region, its airport, Cheshire and, ultimately, North Wales.
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.
Martin Frobisher, Network Rail’s London North Western route managing director, said: “The Halton Curve project has been the perfect example of the rail industry and Liverpool City Region working together to deliver real benefits to the people of Liverpool and beyond.
“Improved rail links are vital to boost the local economy, and it is expected that this key upgrade in the Liverpool City Region will boost the economy by £100m.
“Our teams have worked tirelessly since July 2017 to deliver this work ready for the new timetable in December. This is another fantastic example of our Great North Rail Project delivering for customers across the north.”