MERSEYRAIL bosses want to introduce a total alcohol ban next year on its trains and stations.

At present, passengers using Merseyside’s five underground stations are only prevented from boozing in the run-up to Christmas.

But now the intention is to roll out the ban to all Merseyrail trains and stations – including Capenhurst, Hooton, Little Sutton, Ellesmere Port and Overpool – throughout the year.

It is believed Merseyrail would be the first train network outside London to introduce a blanket ban on the consumption of alcohol on its services.

A similar ban, prohibiting the ‘carrying of open containers of alcohol’, was introduced on public transport in London in 2008 – one of Boris Johnson’s first acts as mayor of London.

The Merseyrail initiative is part of its continuing crackdown on anti-social behaviour on the network. It follows its earlier pioneering campaign to prosecute people who put their feet on seats.

The ban would be one of the first changes introduced by Merseyrail’s managing director Maarten Spaargaren, who took over the running of the network last month.

He said: “I want to make the railways a more attractive, safe, pleasant environment to be in – and one way of doing that would be to prevent people who are too drunk to travel using the service.

“We think an alcohol ban would give greater protection to passengers and staff at all times of the year.

“The practicalities of enforcing the ban are still being looked into – such as whether it would need a specific by-law or the extension of an old one.”

It would only extend to drinking alcohol on the train, not to carrying unopened bottles or cans for later consumption.

The Travel Safe campaign is part of a wider drive to make Merseyrail more attractive to non-users, such as motorists.

Mr Spaargaren’s plans for Merseyrail include looking at ways to grow the M To Go retail side of the business, and liaising more effectively with Network Rail in a bid to avoid the disruption seen on the network during last winter’s severe weather.