THE next stage of Network Rail's Halton Curve project will take place over the next two Sundays (November 5 and 12) meaning changes to services for passengers travelling on local stopping services between Chester and Manchester.
Passengers are urged to check nationalrail.co.uk before they travel.
Work began in July on the 1.5 miles of track, known as the ‘Halton Curve,’ that links the Chester/Warrington line and the Liverpool/Crewe line at Frodsham Junction. The upgrade forms part of the Great North Rail Project which will see over £1bn invested in the railway across the north, as part of the national Railway Upgrade Plan.
The existing line, which currently only runs a one-way passenger service once a week in the summer, is being upgraded to provide an hourly service in each direction from December 2018 with the potential for connections to North Wales in the future.
Work over the next two Sundays will see a new track crossover at Frodsham Junction installed to allow trains to move in both directions from the main line onto the ‘Curve’. Engineers will also be taking advantage of the closure to install new cable ducting at Helsby station.
The new cable route will be used to install a new electrical cable which will power the new signalling equipment at Frodsham next year.
Karla Telford, scheme project manager at Network Rail, said: “We’re making some great progress on the Halton Curve. Much of our work is being completed at night, when trains are not running, to minimise disruption to passengers.
"The next two Sundays are vital for us to complete the next key phase in this project which will unlock leisure and business opportunities between the Liverpool City Region, its airport, Cheshire and North Wales. I’d like to thank passengers in advance for their patience.”
Cllr Liam Robinson, Chair of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Transport Committee which oversees the work of Merseytravel, said: "The Halton Curve is one of our major rail schemes and will play a vital role in unlocking so many more opportunities for people in our City Region, Cheshire and North Wales.
"While this does mean some short-term disruptions for passengers in the area while work is carried out, the long-term benefits of increase travel options will make it worthwhile.
“This is part of a £340m investment in the City Region's rail network by the end of 2019 that will improve connections and the capacity – investment that only marks the start of our ambitions."
Lynne Milligan, Customer Services Director at Arriva Trains Wales, said: “Serving local stations, rail replacement bus services will be running between Chester and Manchester on the 5 and 12 November. Customers are asked to check their journey plans before travelling and to allow extra time for their journeys”.
This project, due to cost a maximum £18.75m, is being funded through the Government’s Growth Deal and the Liverpool City Region. It is being developed by the Liverpool City Region (including Halton Council), Cheshire West and Cheshire Council, the Welsh Government and a consortium of the six county authorities in North Wales.
As journeys between the Liverpool City Region, West Cheshire and North Wales are currently largely car dependent, it’s expected that the new service would remove the need for 170,000 road journeys helping reduce demand on key routes such as the M56 and A55.
It is also forecast that the new services will generate 250,000 new trips, boosting the economy by £100m.
See full story in the Chester Leader