Wales

Halton Curve: Rail line links north Wales and Liverpool

Train sign
Image caption The first train departed for Liverpool from Wrexham on Monday morning

The first rail services directly linking north Wales, Cheshire and Liverpool have started running for the first time in more than 40 years.

Direct daily trains between Wrexham and Liverpool are among the 215 additional weekly services.

Two Wrexham to Liverpool services will run each day from Monday to Saturday, with one in the opposite direction.

The services are being introduced thanks to Network Rail's upgrade of the Halton Curve track in Cheshire.

Image copyright Transport for Wales
Image caption A one and a half mile stretch of track between Frodsham station (pictured) and Runcorn has been upgraded

It has been all but closed to passengers for decades, running an occasional summer-only service.

But the first train to Liverpool left Wrexham at 06:35 BST on Monday, with Welsh Government Transport Minister Ken Skates on board.

Passengers from Wrexham previously had to change at Bidston or Chester to get to Liverpool.

Direct services ceased in the 1970s with calls for their reintroduction going back many years.

The Halton Curve

Image caption This 1914 map shows the Halton Curve between Frodsham and Runcorn

The Halton Curve is a short section of railway track which connects the North Wales Coast Line to the West Coast Main Line.

It was opened in 1873 to provide a direct link between the industrial areas of north Wales, south Lancashire and Merseyside.

With the decline of heavy industry in the first half of the 20th Century, the line saw a reduction in freight traffic, and passenger services were withdrawn in the 1970s.

In 1994 the line was reduced from double track to single, with southbound operation of the line ending entirely.

For the next two decades, the line saw only a token "parliamentary service" on summer Saturday mornings between Chester and Runcorn to avoid a formal closure of the line.

The reopening of the line marks the end of a five-year, £18.75m project.

"I'm delighted to be launching the new Transport for Wales rail services between north Wales and Cheshire to Liverpool," Mr Skates said.

"Each day thousands of commuters travel between north Wales and north west England, meaning excellent rail connectivity is vital to the economy on both sides of the border."

The new services will attract more visitors in Wales and boost tourism, Mr Skates added.

Image caption The reopening of the Halton Curve is the result of "immense amount of hard work", Transport for Wales says

Transport for Wales (TfW) said the project "underpins our commitment" to improve rail services across Wales.

"This project saw an immense amount of hard work, dedication and investment by so many individuals and agencies and shows just what can be achieved by collaborative working," said CEO James Price.

TfW has previously said the cost for a day return between Wrexham General and Liverpool Lime Street would be £11.50.

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