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Transport leaders have announced a programme of platform upgrades designed to prepare the Merseyrail network for the arrival of the new, state of the art trains in 2020 that will transform how people travel.

The phased programme of upgrades will take place between 20 October 2018 and 16 June 2019. These vital works, delivered by Network Rail, will involve upgrading existing platforms and realigning track to ensure that they are compatible with the new trains and their ground breaking, sliding step technology that will provide unassisted access for all.

This means that wheelchair users can board the train without a ramp and passengers with prams and cycles can get on and off the train with ease. This technology represents a pioneering approach for the UK.

There will be 11 phases of works during this period. Only short sections of line will be closed at any one time, with all stations on that section closed. Closures will vary in duration, but most will be between nine and 30 days at a time.

High quality, rail replacement buses will get passengers to where they need to go as quickly as possible and some of these will be express services.

Merseytravel, Merseyrail and Network Rail have worked collaboratively on this project and significant planning work has been carried out to minimise the time needed to complete these important works and reduce disruption to passengers.

In addition, we have also worked closely with the district councils and key city region partners to avoid, as far as possible, other engineering works and major events to ensure that the city region remains open for business.

More detailed information will be made available in advance of each phase and travellers will be encouraged to plan ahead and consider their travel options including commercial buses and the Mersey Ferries.

Businesses and organisations are advised to think about what they may need to put in place to support staff and customers.

Key advice:

  • You can still get to where you need to go
  • Check before you travel. Closures are taking place at different locations at different times on the network so it’s important to keep checking what’s happening and when. Some timetables may change.
  • Plan ahead – use journey planners and National Rail enquiries
  • Leave more time for your journey. Timetables may change and your journey may be longer.
  • Consider avoiding travelling at peak times where possible.
  • Consider your options –including commercial buses and the Mersey Ferries.

For more information and further details about how your rail journeys will be affected visit www.merseyrail.org/itshappening

For further information and alternative travel options visit www.merseytravel.gov.uk/itshappening

Wayne Menzies, Merseytravel’s Head of Rail said: “We’ve got to complete these works. It’s really important that passengers know what’s happening so they can plan ahead and if we work together we can keep everyone moving and the city region will remain open for business.

“The new trains will transform how we travel and this project is about making this happen so although there will be some disruption it will be worth it in the end.”

Andy Heath, Managing Director at Merseyrail said: “These works are vital to prepare our network for the arrival of the new state-of-the-art trains in 2020 and in particular the sliding step that will allow unassisted access for all our passengers. A lot of work has gone in to minimising disruption as much as possible while this work takes place and both high quality rail replacement buses and our staff will be available to help keep everyone moving.”

Marcus Barnes, Senior Sponsor for Network Rail, said: “We’re delivering vital upgrades to 100 platforms and realigning track at 58 stations across the Merseyrail network to make sure they’re ready for new trains in 2020.

“This investment is part of a huge package of works across the Liverpool City Region and sits within our Great North Rail Project.

“Adjusting the height, width and layout of the platforms is more complex than it may sound and we’ll need to close sections of the line to complete these vital works safely.

“Many of these upgrades may not be obvious to passengers, but are key to enable improved access onto new Merseyrail trains using the new sliding step technology.”

Key features of the new trains

The trains are part of a £460 million investment and will replace the near 40-year-old fleet that currently runs on the Merseyrail network.

  • The trains will be safer, more comfortable and able to carry up to 50% more people
  • The trains will be faster, cutting journey times by up to 10%
  • They will be accessible to all thanks to intelligent sliding step technology
  • CCTV will be used inside the train and will be visible to passengers on board, the driver and the Merseyrail control room.

For more information about the new trains visit www.merseytravel.gov.uk/newtrains