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Wirral loop line track renewal information now available

Station & Service Updates

10 October 2016

Wirral loop line track renewal January- June 2017: Information now available to help you plan your journeys

Details of the transport options that will keep the Liverpool City Region moving during six months of work on Merseyrail’s Wirral line– including six weeks of full cross-river closure from 3rd January– are available from today (Monday 10thOctober).

“The renewal work to the Wirral line is necessary to keep the network running and safe. Whilst it will be disruptive for passengers, there is a strong alternative transport option available to ensure people can still get around as they would do normally.

Joe Anderson

Mayor Liverpool and Chair of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority

Travellers are being encouraged to plan ahead, with businesses and organisations advised to think about what they may need to put in place to support staff and customers.

The key advice for Merseyrail users is to leave their cars at home and stick to express rail replacement services, or other public transport, to keep the Mersey Tunnels and surrounding routes moving. 

Network Rail will be replacing the most challenging sections of concrete based track in the ‘loop’ – originally laid in the 1970s, while making the most of the opportunity to carry out other work, including replacing conventional track under the riverbed.

Network Rail, Merseyrail and Merseytravel, have been working over many months, with local authorities, operators and other partners, to come up with a plan that balances the need to get essential and complex work done with the need to keep people moving and the city region ‘open for business’.

The work, which will also support a new Merseyrail fleet on the network from the early 2020s, is part of a £340m investment in the Liverpool City Region (LCR)’s rail network over the next three years (see notes to editors)

Details on the transport offer are available at with booklets soon to be available from rail stations.

  • Rail replacement buses: High quality ‘express’ buses ready to ‘load and go’ at peak times will run directly from Birkenhead Central and Birkenhead North to Moorfields and St George’s Hall, with return buses at least every 15 minutes. There will be additional services to ensure people can still catch early morning mainline trains, and late on in the evening. People who would normally make use of loop services (trains between James St, Moorfields, Lime St and Central) can use their rail tickets on the 10A bus to travel arounds the ‘loop’.
  • Buses:  There are 14 existing cross-river bus services that run between Wirral/Chester and Liverpool. Services will be strengthened to accommodate existing and new customers.
  • Mersey Ferries:  Offer a frequent cross-river service between Seacombe and Pier Head in peak times, with three services an hour, a journey time of 10 mins each way and free parking for 370 cars at Seacombe. Merseyrail tickets/passes will be able to be used throughout the disruption. Ferries will be an option for cyclists as they can’t be carried on rail replacement buses.
  • Special arrangements will be in place for those with disabilities with staff on hand to help. There is more information online here.

Much work is being undertaken to encourage people to play their part in keeping the transport network moving. While advice is primarily targeted at Merseyrail users, it is recognised that the transport network will be busier for everybody and that other travellers may want to consider their options too.

Key advice:

  • Don’t take the car, use public transport: The Mersey Tunnels and surrounding routes can accommodate additional buses but they will not be able to cope with an increase in cars, especially at peak times. Congestion will increase journey times for everyone.
  • Avoid travelling at peak times where possible: If you work, speak to your employer about whether there is any flexibility in working times or times you could avoid travelling altogether. If you can, you may want to leave work later and make the most of restaurants, shops and other leisure activities on whatever side of the river you’re travelling home from.
  • Leave more time for your journey: Whether you travel cross-river, within the rail network in Wirral, or usually make use of the underground rail ‘loop’ to get around the city centre, you will need more time for your journey to take account of the changes.
  • Consider your options: Different ways of travelling may suit your needs depending on where you need to go and at what time.

Said Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, MD of Merseyrail:

“We appreciate that this work will bring significant disruption to passengers on the Wirral line, resulting in temporary changes to how they make their journeys. However, we have worked hard with our partners to ensure that the alternative travel arrangements we’ve put in place provide the most effective ways of keeping people moving around the city region.”

Terry Strickland, Area Director Network Rail said:

"The Wirral line track renewal is part of a £340 million investment in the railway of the Liverpool City Region. 

"After more than 40 years it is time to renew track on the loop line and river bed to maintain the safety and reliability of the network.

"Whilst underground we will also be undertaking maintenance jobs that will help boost the resilience of the network, limiting the need for further disruption in the future. We are supporting the work of Merseytravel and Merseyrail to keep the city region moving during this time and thank passengers in advance for their patience during the works."

Liam Robinson, Chair of the Merseytravel Committee:

“We have been clear that from the start of the planning for these works that the City Region has to be kept moving and remain open for business.  This is the message that has also been echoed strongly by businesses and organisations on both sides of the river; it is non-negotiable.

“While the work will bring disruption and mean temporary changes to how people make their journeys we will, working together, make it as positive an experience as possible. We have to consider the end game and the significant benefits £340m in our rail network will bring.

Cllr Stuart Whittingham, Wirral Council Cabinet member for Highways and Infrastructure, said:

"Investment in our transport network is always welcome and improvements to the City Region's rail infrastructure will play a major part in delivering our economic regeneration plans over the coming years.

"Wirral Council is aware of the inevitable disruption and inconvenience this repair work will cause to commuters in 2017 and wants to see the impact on the travelling public minimised as much as possible. We are working with Merseytravel and others to organise meetings with Wirral commuters and rail users to shape the best possible temporary transport solutions, so Wirral residents are well informed about their alternative travel to work options as early as possible." 

Joe Anderson, Mayor Liverpool and Chair of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority: 

“The renewal work to the Wirral line is necessary to keep the network running and safe.  Whilst it will be disruptive for passengers, there is a strong alternative transport option available to ensure people can still get around as they would do normally.

“I urge people to plan early and make the most of the travel information that is available from today, taking into consideration that they will need to leave more time for their journeys.

“Please bear with it, we are doing everything we can to minimise disruption during this time and be reassured that this work is part of a wider investment in the Liverpool City Region that will give us new services and stations by 2019.”

Said Jenny Stewart, Chief Executive of Liverpool & Sefton Chambers of Commerce:

“Businesses have a role to play in keeping the City Region moving during these works, whether it is looking at what they can do to accommodate the needs of staff and customers who may be affected, to what incentives can be offered to encourage people to still make those journeys.

“This £340m investment for our rail network is to be welcomed. As a City Region that is focused on growth we have to be accepting of short term disruption for long-term gain.”

Kevin Adderley Board Director, Wirral Chamber of Commerce said:

“We urge businesses to act early and use the resources that are available from today to communicate with staff and make a plan of action for the closure period. “

Said Wayne Menzies, Merseytravel’s Head of Rail and Chair of the Liverpool City Region Major Events Transport Board:

“We are taking an innovative collaborative City Region approach to these works, using structures and processes similar to those used in the Olympics and Commonwealth games. This is to ensure the City Region is both fully prepared before and during the works, that plans are robust and that, should there be any issues, they can be addressed as they happen.”