Network Rail: Rail electrification work sparks new car park

A hospice close to Eccleston Park railway station has benefitted from a multi-million pound project to electrify railway lines in the North West.

Willowbrook Hospice, which cares for people over eighteen years of age living in the St Helens and Knowsley area who have life-limiting illnesses, now has a brand new car park. This will allow the hospice to push ahead with expansion plans for the vital services they provide.

The electrification project includes the line between Huyton and Wigan, and involves suspending 25,000 volt power lines above the railway tracks for future electric train services.

Two bridges that carry Portico Lane and Old Lane over the railway line have had to be rebuilt because there was insufficient headroom to accommodate the power lines.

Now the six month project is complete, the two bridges have been reconstructed and the hospice has a new 39 space Tarmac-covered car park with kerbs, white lines and provision for lighting.

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Bethan Burnett, project management assistant with Network Rail, explained: “We would prefer to lower the track to give us enough room for the power lines, because that causes virtually no disruption to the local community.

“However, in some cases that is simply not possible and we have to rebuild the bridges, as we did in Eccleston Park.”

Network Rail and its contractor J Murphy & Son needed somewhere they could set up a site compound close to Portico Lane and the hospice had spare land, which it agreed could be used in return for building the car park.

Neil Wright, chief executive of the hospice, said: “The hospice celebrates the 15th anniversary of its opening this year. When it was opened in 1997, the local community was very generous in raising funds to provide a building and facilities to meet the requirements at that time. Since then, the demand for our services has increased and we now care for over 1000 patients a year.

“Over the last three years, we have built two extensions, improving our outpatient and day therapy facilities, but there is now a desperate need to consider increasing the number of beds we provide in order to support local people. The increasing demand for our services has meant more patients, more visitors, more healthcare workers and more volunteers which has, in turn, put a lot of pressure on car parking on site.

“The new car park provided by Network Rail and Murphy, with a contribution from the hospice, was an unexpected boost and is a great example of the socially responsible manner in which Network Rail and Murphy conduct their business.

“Many local people will benefit from the improvement to the rail service. The very generous donation of our car park from Network Rail and Murphy will be a long-lasting legacy for years to come and may just be the catalyst needed to help expand the number of beds at the hospice.”

Network Rail took the opportunity to thank local residents for their patience during the work and road closures that were necessary over the last six months.