The Merseyside connection

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Following the recent announcement of the proposed £340m of investment in railway systems across Merseyside over the next three years, work is now set to begin on the Halton Curve rail scheme.

Despite being a stretch of line only 1.7 miles long, it is hoped the scheme will significantly improve both leisure and work connections across Halton and Cheshire, and also links with Wales. The approval comes after a meeting of the Liverpool Combined Authority where it agreed a number of projects to improve travel across the region. In addition to the Halton Curve rail scheme, there are also plans to gain control of Merseyrail stations which are currently operated by Network Rail.

It will be interesting to see whether the stations that come under greater control from the Liverpool Combined Authority will undertake the kind of improvements seen as necessary to improve transport across the North as a whole, such as smart ticketing systems – something that was clearly felt to be needed at the launch of the IPPR North report last month.

Of course, trains are only one of the big fish when it comes to public transport, with bus services also set to get improvements after the Authority approved a Bus Alliance agreement between Merseytravel, Arriva and Stagecoach.

The plans will surely be welcomed by many who would like to see connectivity across the region improved, none more so that the MP for East Runcorn, Graham Evans, who has already praised the plans, saying: ‘it’s a cost effective way of connecting Halton, Cheshire, and North Wales together.’

With many more improvements needed and expected over the coming years, and even decades, the latest agreement by the Combined Authority is a sign that the group can work well together and with transport providers as the North continues on the long road of recovering the years of underinvestment in transport infrastructure.

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