Liverpool and Wirral will be the recipients of a vastly improved Merseyrail network and brand-new state of the art trains by 2020. In plans unveiled by Merseytravel, the £460 million regeneration of Liverpool and Wirral’s rail network will provide safer transport on brand new trains for more passengers and commuters than ever. These plans will reshape the Merseyrail map and bring vital transport improvements to the region.

The Merseyrail plans, also encompassing the renewal of platforms and tracks across their entire network, are being undertaken in conjunction with Network Rail. Both Merseyrail and Network Rail aim to decrease journey times, increase train size and passenger capacity, provide safer passage for those on board and to expand the network beyond its current confines.

Regeneration of infrastructure will take place at the Kirkdale and Birkenhead North depots, with upgrades administered to power supplies, platforms across the network and tracks. All infrastructure upgrades and work will take place across 11 phases beginning on October 20th 2018 with an estimated completion date of June 15th 2019. Merseyrail state that only short sections of one line will close at any given time with variations on closures lasting between nine to 30 days.

With new technology comes a focus on the environmental impact it contains. The Merseyrail redevelopment will save up to 20% of energy on each journey. To achieve this, Merseyrail is upgrading the electrical infrastructure that services their network. Improvements to the electrical supply system will combine with the new trains’ innovative ‘regenerative braking’ mechanism. This system allows for the train to recover and store the energy generated when the trains brake and slow down.

The incoming fleet can convert to dual voltage operation. By doing so, it opens the Merseyrail trains network to operate beyond Liverpool and Wirral, allowing it to service places like Skelmersdale, Warrington and Wrexham. Opening the system to outlying towns will mean greater commuter and visitor access to Liverpool, its city centre and the Wirral area.

The fleet of new trains, built by Swiss-based Stadler, will replace the current crop that has been in use since the 1970s. Although the trains currently in commission have been well kept over the years, maintenance costs on these older engines and carriages will increase year on year. There is also the common-sense notion that Liverpool and Wirral, areas undergoing intense regeneration and enjoying spikes in its living and working population, deserve a more modern public transport service that matches the region’s ambitions.

Merseyrail Train

The unveiling of the Merseyrail redevelopment could not have come at a more opportune time. Both Liverpool and Wirral are amid grand regenerative projects that are ensuring both the present and future of the two regions.

Liverpool is forging ahead with its incredible and ambitious Liverpool Waters scheme; one of the most expansive and forward-thinking regeneration projects in the history of the UK. With £5.6bn of investment and building taking place across two million square metres of land on Liverpool’s historic docklands, it is the regeneration scheme that will take Liverpool back to where it belongs regarding its worldwide reputation and prominence.

A total of 37,000 jobs will be created to service the 315,000 square metres (SQM) of office space, 9,000 apartments in a 44-storey residential skyscraper, and a total of 99,000 SQM of hotels, bars, restaurants and retail space.

Across the River Mersey lies the sprawling Wirral Waters development. Similar in size and scope to Liverpool Waters, the Wirral Waters scheme is ploughing £4.5bn of regeneration and investment into 18 million square feet. The regeneration will see the development of 13,000 new homes, 20,000 new jobs and 20 million square of mixed-use floor space. Included in that is the £1bn redevelopment of Birkenhead town centre, which will see its famous market redeveloped alongside the creation of a new creative quarter in Hamilton Square, and the development of Conway Park Commercial Quarter.

The new Merseyrail development will foster and maintain the vital transport links in and around Liverpool and Wirral. Faster and more efficient rail travel will increase the region’s economy regarding productivity and population. More rapid movement of people via increased capacity raises commuter and pedestrian traffic immensely. More significant numbers of people will go to and from these newly-regenerated areas to live, work and shop. The knock-on effects can only be positive. The growth of the local economies serviced and the money generated will attract further investment and residents to the redeveloped and bustling areas.

Written By Joseph Viney | 20th August 2018

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