Passengers are being urged to plan their journeys if travelling in or out of Liverpool via St Helens Junction or St Helens Central in July as investment in the network may affect their travel.
From Saturday 5 July to Sunday 13 July Network Rail will be upgrading the railway between Edge Hill and Bryn, via St Helens Central, and between Edge Hill and St Helens Junction as part of the £1bn+ Northern Hub and North West Electrification Programme.
The improvements will help to provide better services between Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and the north east of England by reducing journey times, improving reliability and helping to provide extra capacity for passengers.
Much of the work is taking place in the Huyton and Roby area to remove a bottleneck from the network which causes disruption and delays to services. A new third track will be completed to allow faster trains to pass slower services and additional platforms will be built. Other station improvements include improved customer information systems, new lifts and improved access via subways.
A large amount of the improvements have already been carried out while services continued to operate across the route but owing to the significant work involved in building new track and platforms, it is necessary to close the line between 5 and 13 July. Alternative routes will be available and buses will replace the usual timetable.
Ian Joslin, area director for Network Rail, said: “This is the latest phase of more than £1bn of investment in the railway in the north of England to provide a better service for passengers.
“The investment will deliver faster journey times, more seats and capacity and more reliable journeys, all of which are vital to the continued growth of the railway and the positive impact it has on the economy.
“The work has been carefully planned so the closure is for the shortest amount of time possible. We apologise for any inconvenience caused but I am confident the short term-pain will be worth the long-term gain.”
Alex Hynes, managing director for Northern Rail, said: “The upgrade work around Huyton and Roby this summer is the continuation of significant investment in infrastructure in the north of England. We want to make sure our customers are aware of the changes and understand the excellent benefits they will experience once the work is complete.
“Not only will it provide more capacity but it will also improve journey times for our customers. It heralds the beginning of the final phase of electrification work between Liverpool and Manchester, which will see our additional electric trains operating from December 2014 and is something to really celebrate.”
Chris Nutton, programme director for First TransPennine Express said: ““Our new direct service between Liverpool and Newcastle via Manchester Victoria has already proved very popular with customers. We have been able to introduce this new service as a result of the investment projects that have been ongoing.
“The railway in the north of England is being transformed over the next few years and customers will feel the benefit of faster and longer trains and improved journey choice. To enable these improvements, sections of the network need to be closed for a short period of time. This is the quickest and most efficient way of delivering an improved railway for customers and we would advise customers who normally travel between Liverpool and Manchester to check the details of their journeys before travelling.”
Passengers are already seeing the benefits of investment in the railway in the north west. From May 2014, a new direct service from Manchester Victoria to Liverpool was introduced which takes just 33 minutes between the two cities, a 10 minute journey time reduction overall.
Ahead of the railway closure, the public subway at Huyton will be closed from 16 June 2014 for one week to carry out work to improve accessibility. Passengers and local people should use the alternative route through the subway at the railway station.
Staff will be on site 24/7 to provide assistance and free wheelchair friendly transport will be available to take anyone unable to use the steps to the other side of the station.
Further works will take place on the railway to complete the final phase of electrification of the route between Manchester and Liverpool before electric trains begin to operate from December 2014.
For the latest information regarding the closure and to plan journeys, passengers should check before they travel at www.nationalrail.co.uk/huyton.