- City Line (Merseyrail)
City LineLegend To Blackpool and Lancaster Preston Leyland Euxton Balshaw Lane Wigan North Western Limited service between Newton and Wigan Bryn Garswood St Helens Central Thatto Heath Eccleston Park Prescot To Manchester Victoria and Manchester Airport Limited service between Newton and Wigan Newton-le-Willows Limited service to Ellesmere Port Warrington Bank Quay Earlestown St Helens Junction Lea Green Rainhill Whiston Huyton Roby Broad Green Wavertree Technology Park To Manchester Oxford Road Warrington Central Sankey Widnes Hough Green Halewood Hunts Cross (for Northern Line) To Birmingham and London Crewe Winsford Hartford Acton Bridge Runcorn Liverpool South Parkway (for Liverpool Airport) West Allerton Mossley Hill Edge Hill Liverpool Lime Street (for Wirral Line)
The City Line is the name given to local rail routes out of Liverpool Lime Street station, Liverpool, Merseyside. It appears on maps of the Merseyrail network as red, and covers the Liverpool-Wigan Line as well as the two routes of the Liverpool-Manchester Line. Although it is branded under the Merseyrail name, the routes are operated by Northern Rail on behalf of Merseytravel rather than by the Merseyrail franchise.
The City Line can trace its origins back to the dawn of the railway era, as it incorporates most of the route of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, opened in 1830 having Broad Green Station the oldest operating station in the world. Other early railway companies whose lines are now part of the City Line include the Cheshire Lines Committee and the London & North Western Railway.
These disparate local railway services were not marketed under a common name until 1972, when Merseyside PTE introduced the Merseyrail brand for services which were operated by British Rail on its behalf. The PTE applied the City Line name to local services out of Liverpool's main station at Lime Street.
Around this time, ambitious plans were floated to electrify parts of the City Line and incorporate it into the Northern Line, via the Wapping Tunnel from Edge Hill to Liverpool Central. However, after work started, they were abandoned.
In the 1990s, as part of the Government's rail privatisation, the City Line services became part of the North Western Trains franchise (later taken over by First Group and renamed First North Western). Merseytravel continue to use the City Line name and stations retain the Merseyrail branding and familiar M logo.
In 2004, the First North Western franchise was merged with that of neighbouring train company Arriva Trains Northern to create a new franchise covering the north of England. The new franchise was won by Northern Rail, owned by the Serco-NedRailways consortium (who, coincidentally, had been named as the operators of the Merseyrail Electrics franchise a year earlier).
- Liverpool to Wigan Line (and onward to Preston via the West Coast Main Line)
- Liverpool to Manchester Lines (Northern and Southern Routes, including the branch to Warrington Bank Quay)
Some City Line services continue beyond the confines of the above routes. For example, many Preston services continue to Blackpool or Lancaster, while Manchester Victoria services go on to Stalybridge.
Other lines out of Lime Street are not generally considered part of the City Line. However, sometimes the distinction is unclear. For example, Merseytravel publicity for Liverpool South Parkway referred to the Central Trains service from Liverpool to Crewe and Birmingham New Street as if it were part of the City Line. The City Line timetable booklets also show other services where they share tracks with City Line trains (for example, the Chester to Manchester services via Newton-le-Willows and Warrington Bank Quay).
Monday to Saturday daytimes, most stations are served by a train every half-hour on core sections of route. Some smaller stations are served only by one train per hour. Services are less frequent in the evenings.
Long-distance express services provided by other operators provide additional trains to some City Line stations.
On Sundays Edge Hill, Eccleston Park and Bryn stations are closed and a basic hourly frequency operates on all lines.
Transfer to the Northern Line is possible at Liverpool South Parkway or Hunts Cross, for services to Southport. No direct connections to the branches to Kirkby and Ormskirk are available; passengers must board Southport-bound trains and alight at Sandhills.
Interchange with the Wirral Line is possible at Liverpool Lime Street. Passengers wishing to transfer to the Northern Line can take a Wirral line service to Liverpool Central (although given the short distance between the two stations, many prefer to walk).
There were 17 Class 142 Pacer units painted in the PTE's yellow livery, ostensibly for use on City Line services. However, they are not dedicated to Merseyside operations and can often be seen working on other Northern Rail services outside the Merseyside area. Conversely, 142s in other liveries can frequently be seen working Lime Street services.
On 28 February 2007 Merseytravel announced a new deal with Northern Rail and Angel Trains, which would see 4 Pacers taken out of service and replaced by 6 Class 156 units. The higher capacity of the 156s will assist in tackling overcrowding. This new arrangement is expected to begin with the May 2007 timetable.
Merseytravel have aspirations to electrify much of the City Line with 25kV overhead. The only section of City Line route currently electrified is between Lime Street and Liverpool South Parkway (for use by Virgin and London Midland EMUs). In July 2009 the Department for Transport announced that the line from Liverpool to Manchester via Newton-le-Willows (the Chat Moss route) would be electrified, along with the Liverpool to Wigan line. The electrification will be complete in 2013.
In February 2010 Networkrail's Northern Hub Plan, on page 26, announced that 4 electrified tracks will be operative from Broad Green Station to Huyton Station. This is to allow a fast uninterrupted service from Liverpool to Manchester and slower electric urban trains to operate on segregated tracks from Liverpool to Wigan. Merseyrail City Line trains run on this section of track. Whether Merseyrail electric trains, operated by either Merseyrail or Northern Rail will operate on this electrified section remains to be clarified.
The Canada Dock Branch line is a line running from Edge Hill Junction in the east of the city in a long curve to Canada Dock in the north of the city. The line meets Merseyrail's Northern Line at a junction between Bank Hall and Bootle Oriel Road stations. The line's last remaining passenger services were withdrawn in 1977, but the line remains busy with freight to Seaforth Container Terminal.
The line could be reopened to passengers, allowing the reopening of stations along its length: Spellow, Walton & Anfield, Breck Road, Tuebrook, Stanley and Edge Lane. The line from Edge Lane would continue through to Edge Hill station and terminate at Lime Street.
Network Rail have investigated options for the Canada Dock Branch in their Route Utilisation Strategy for Merseyside and have concluded that the expected benefits do not justify the investment in new infrastructure. However, it has been suggested that Liverpool FC could assist in funding the reopening of this line to provide a direct link to their proposed new Stanley Park Stadium.
The Department for Transport's Rail electrification document of July 2009, states that the route to Liverpool Docks will be electrified. The Canada Dock Branch Line is the only line into the docks. From the document:
- 70. Electrification of this route will offer electric haulage options for freight.
- There will be an alternative route to Liverpool docks for electrically-operated freight trains, and better opportunities of electrified access to the proposed freight terminal at Parkside near Newton-le-Willows.
The electrification of this line would greatly assist in recommissioning passenger trains, as costs would be reduced.
- ^ Merseytravel (2007-02-28). "Boost for City Line rail services". http://www.merseytravel.gov.uk/newsarticle.asp?articleid=1137&catid=1. Retrieved 2007-03-21.
- ^ Department for Transport (2009-07-23). "Britain's Transport Infrastructure: Rail Electrification". http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/rail/pi/rail-electrification.pdf.
- ^ Electrification of the Liverpool - Wigan Line
- ^ Northern Hub Plan
- ^ Canada Dock station on Disused Stations
- ^ Merseyside RUS
- ^ Liverpool Daily Post
- ^ Rail Electrification Document
Merseyrail City Line Stations Wigan Branch Manchester via Newton-le-Willows Branch Manchester via Warrington Branch
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