New rail links along the reopened Halton Curve are expected to “create further business and tourism opportunities” for the Liverpool City Region.
Services between Liverpool Lime Street and Wrexham in North Wales got underway this morning (19 May), with the first service calling at Chester, Helsby, Frodsham, Runcorn and Liverpool South Parkway.
Meanwhile additional services between Chester and Liverpool Lime Street via the Halton Curve began yesterday (19 May).
The services, operated by Transport for Wales, follow a £14.5 million to reopen a 1.5-mile stretch of track near Frodsham, linking Chester onto the West Coast Mainline into Liverpool.
Funded through the government’s Local Growth Funding which was awarded to the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and invested through the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s Strategic Investment Fund, along with direct capital funding from the combined authority, the project has enabled the first services to run direct from North Wales into Liverpool in more than 40 years.
It has been developed by the Liverpool City Region (including Halton Council), Cheshire West and Chester Council, the Welsh Government and a consortium of the six county authorities in North Wales. The works have been delivered by Network Rail.
It’s expected that the link will generate 250,000 new trips and would remove the need for 170,000 road journeys, helping to reduce demand on key routes such as the M56 and A55.
Future plans are also being made for further journeys into Wales, with some services running to Cardiff via Shrewsbury and to Llandudno.
Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, says: “The Halton Curve is one of many ambitious rail schemes across the Liverpool City Region that have been delivered by the combined authority, working together in partnership with a number of organisations.
“This is only the start of realising the benefits that re-opening the curve will bring and the future plans for services linking the city region with Cardiff and the North Wales coast can only benefit us further.”
Asif Hamid MBE, chair of the Liverpool City Region LEP, adds: “Our view as a LEP is that growth across the North can best be enabled by the private sector working in partnership with the public sector to identify and support key infrastructure projects.
“Initiatives such as the Halton Curve are central to the city region’s continued growth and I am delighted to see this project completed, which will undoubtedly improve connectivity thereby creating further business and tourism opportunities for our city region and the wider North.”
The reopening of the Halton Curve has long been backed by Liverpool John Lennon Airport, as it strengthens the connection between North Wales and Liverpool South Parkway, from which passengers can then access the airport via buses.
John Irving, CEO of Liverpool John Lennon Airport, says: “The opening of the Halton Curve will bring important public transport connectivity for parts of North Wales and North West Cheshire which have been devoid of a link to the airport until now.”
The reopening of the Halton Curve forms part of a wider £340m investment in rail in the Liverpool City Region by the end of 2019, and also sits within the Great North Rail Project – a multi-billion pound investment plan to transform train travel across the North.