Platform upgrades begin in Merseyside

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Merseyrail’s new train design. Pic © Merseyrail

Stations across Merseyside are preparing for the arrival of new trains by upgrading existing platforms and tracks.

The first phase, which began on Saturday, started work on the Ormskirk Line and disruption across the region will last until June 2019.

In total, there will be 11 phases of work over 58 stations finishing and both Wirral and Northern Lines are affected.

Railway stations that are closed will have replacement buses. Those stations remaining open will have alternative platforms for passengers.

Upgrade phases

Ormskirk-Walton Line: Oct 20-28
Ormskirk-Old Roan: Oct 29-Nov 9
Bank Hall: Nov 12-Dec 16
Wirral Loop Line: Dec 5-Jan 1
Kirby to Rice Lane: Jan 5-13
Liverpool Central to Hunts Cross: Jan 19-20 & 26-27
Brunswick to Hunt’s Cross: Jan 21-25
Formby to Bank Hall: Feb 11-24
Southport to Hall Road: Feb 2-10
Rock Ferry to Hooton: Mar 2-22
Hooton to Chester: Mar 25-Apr 2
West Kirby to Birkenhead North: Apr 7-14
West Kirby to Bidston: Apr 15-22
New Brighton to Birkenhead North: Apr 27-May 5
Overpool: April 27-June 15
Green Lane: May 11-June 15

The updated trains, set to arrive in 2020, will having a sliding step technology where the carriage meets the platform, allowing everybody travelling to access the transport without assistance.

Patrick Cleary from Transition Town West Kirby, a group that campaigns for better transport, told JMU Journalism: “We welcome an introduction to new trains. The existing trains are extremely old and it is good that they are getting an investment.”

North Cheshire Rail User Group members are also optimistic about the upgrade. A spokesman for the group said the work is “unavoidable and essential” to improve the safety of trains.

However, Mr Cleary spoke of his concern over travel arrangements. He told JMU Journalism: “We are looking to ensure the amount of coaches are kept to a minimum and disruption is kept to a low.”

Merseyrail, which is working with Northern Rail on the upgrading of stations, say it wants people to get to their destination as quickly as possible and claims it has provided high-quality replacement buses for train stations that will be closed.

Each phase will last between nine to 30 days. Although the time may seem long to passengers, Mr Cleary says: “It is important that it is done properly and safely as it is for the long-term improvement of rail travel.”

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