Details of the transport options that will keep the Liverpool City Region moving during six months of work on Merseyrail’s Wirral line – including six weeks of full cross-river closure from 3rd January – are available.
Travellers are being encouraged to plan ahead, with businesses and organisations advised to think about what they may need to put in place to support staff and customers.
The key advice for Merseyrail users is to leave their cars at home and stick to express rail replacement bus services, or other public transport, to keep the Mersey Tunnels and surrounding routes moving.
Network Rail will be replacing the most challenging sections of concrete based track in the ‘loop’ – originally laid in the 1970s, while making the most of the opportunity to carry out other work, including replacing conventional track under the riverbed.
Network Rail, Merseyrail and Merseytravel, have been working over many months, with local authorities, operators and other partners, to come up with a plan that balances the need to get essential and complex work done with the need to keep people moving and the city region ‘open for business’.
The work, which would also support a new Merseyrail fleet on the network from the early 2020s, is part of a £340m investment in the Liverpool City Region (LCR)’s rail network over the next three years (see notes to editors)
• Rail replacement buses: High quality ‘express’ buses ready to ‘fill and go’ at peak times will run directly from Birkenhead Central and Birkenhead North to Moorfields and St George’s Hall, with return buses at least every 15 minutes. There will be additional services to ensure people can still catch early morning mainline trains. People who would normally use loop services (trains between James St, Moorfields, Lime St and Central) can use their rail tickets on the 10A bus to travel around the ‘loop’.
• Buses: There are 14 existing cross-river bus services that run between Wirral/Chester and Liverpool. Services will be strengthened to accommodate existing and new customers.
• Mersey Ferries: Offer a frequent cross-river service between Seacombe and Pier Head in peak times, with three services an hour, a journey time of 10 mins each way and free parking for 370 cars at Seacombe. Cross-river Merseyrail tickets/passes will be able to be used throughout the disruption. Ferries will be an option for cyclists as cycles can’t be carried on rail replacement buses.
Special arrangements will be in place for those with disabilities with staff on hand to help. Much work is being undertaken to encourage people to play their part in keeping the transport network moving. While advice is primarily targeted at Merseyrail users, it is recognised that the transport network will be busier for everybody and that other travellers may want to consider their options too.
WATCH: Short video about the track renewal programme
• Don’t take the car, use public transport: The Mersey Tunnels and surrounding routes can accommodate additional buses but they will not be able to cope with an increase in cars, especially at peak times. Congestion will increase journey times for everyone. • Avoid travelling at peak times where possible: If you work, speak to your employer about whether there is any flexibility in working times or times you could avoid travelling altogether. If you can, you may want to leave work later and make the most of restaurants, shops and other leisure activities on whatever side of the river you’re travelling home from. • Leave more time for your journey: Whether you travel cross-river, within the rail network in Wirral, or usually make use of the underground rail ‘loop’ to get around the city centre, you will need more time for your journey to take account of the changes. • Consider your options: Different ways of travelling may suit your needs depending on where you need to go and at what time.
Joe Anderson, Mayor Liverpool and Chair of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority: “The renewal work to the Wirral line is necessary to keep the network running and safe. Whilst it will be disruptive for passengers, there is a strong alternative transport option available to ensure people can still get around as they would do normally.
“I urge people to plan early and make the most of the travel information that is available from today, taking into consideration that they will need to leave more time for their journeys.
“Please bear with it, we are doing everything we can to minimise disruption during this time and be reassured that this work is part of a wider investment in the Liverpool City Region that will give us new services and stations by 2019.”
Phase 1: Tuesday 3rd January – Sunday 12th February
For six weeks all Wirral line trains will start and terminate at Birkenhead North and Birkenhead Central. Rail replacement buses will run between Wirral and Liverpool Stations
Phase 2: Monday 13th February – Monday 29th May
For 15 weeks, all Wirral line trains will start and terminate at James Street station from Monday to Friday. At weekends, all services will start and terminate at Birkenhead North and Birkenhead Central Stations. Rail replacement buses will run between Wirral and Liverpool stations.
Phase 3: Tuesday 30th May – Sunday 18th June
For 20 days, all Wirral line trains will start and terminate at Birkenhead North and Birkenhead Central. Rail replacement buses will run between Wirral and Liverpool stations.