THE first two trains of the new electrification scheme connecting Liverpool and Manchester have arrived in the city for driver training.
This coincides with the 184th anniversary of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway, which, when it opened on September 15, 1830, was the world’s first double-track passenger intercity railway.
The two class 319 electric multiple units of four cars each are now based at the Allerton depot, which has been “revitalized” by Network Rail for electric train use from 7 September.
As of last week, electric trains have been used for driver training by the rail operator Northern Rail between Allerton and Crewe and will start carrying passengers between Liverpool and Manchester from December.
They will be followed by 12 more units which will be gradually brought into service over the first six months of next year, as they are released from their current roles for rail operator Capital Connect around London.
Network Rail has also decided to re-establish the fourth mile and a half track between Huyton Junction and and Pilch Lane Junction, near Roby, on the Liverpool &; Manchester Railway, although it could not be used until 2018.
Robin Ellis, Network Rail Project Manager, said: âThe third track was opened in July and we thought the most cost effective way was to lay the fourth track while we have access to the track until December.
âLand will need to be purchased in Huyton from the adjacent bus station and BT to connect the fourth track and discussions are only just beginning on this. We do not have a committed delivery date.
âThere is still a lot of work to be done at Huyton and Roby stations, but hopefully the Huyton Junction track remodeling can be done over a long weekend.
âWe do not plan to shut down the line as long as necessary at the start of the summer and the rope work for the overhead electrification cables is taking place at night. The fourth line could be used before 2018, which is the worst case. “
The fourth Huyton – Roby line is part of Network Rail’s Â£ 600million Northern Hub program to modernize northwest rail services with improved stations, longer platforms, more frequent and faster services and better connections via reopened lines. This in turn is part of Network Rail’s Â£ 1bn five-year Northern program.
The electrification will speed up services from Liverpool to Manchester, Warrington and Wigan from the current top speed of 75 mph to 90 mph and the four-car electric trains will double the capacity of the current two-car diesel units.
* Main rail access to Liverpool Road Station, Manchester, the world’s oldest railway station and the original 1830 eastern terminus of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway remains in the balance.
The Secretary of State for Transport has yet to rule after a public inquiry last May into Network Rail’s plan to build the Ordsall Chord, which will allow trains to avoid the bottleneck Piccadilly – Oxford Road stations, but will also cut the rail link to Grade I listed station, which is now part of the Manchester Museum of Science &; Industry.