New Central station: wait another 12 years
Nov 29 2008 by Ben Schofield, Liverpool Daily Post
LIVERPOOL?S Central Station could be expanded or rebuilt in 2020 to cope with growing passenger numbers, Network Rail announced yesterday.
But Merseyside?s senior transport councillor has hit out at the plans saying they will be delivered too late.
Network Rail, which owns the stations and tracks, started a 12-week consultation on the future of the city region?s rail infrastructure yesterday.
Its Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS) for Merseyside could see an ?immediate package of investment? to increase Central Station?s capacity in the short term. This would be completed by 2015 at the earliest.
The RUS document also suggests building a new station or underground platform between 2020 and 2025.
The station has only just missed out on ?12m of funding. In October, the Office for Rail Regulation (ORR) turned down a bid application from Merseytravel to overhaul Central Station.
The transport authority asked for the money after branding it ?a tip? that poses safety concerns as passenger numbers continue to increase over the coming years.
Around 60,000 passengers use the station, on Ranelagh Street, every day. It has seen usage grow by more than 50% over the past five years.
Network Rail came under fire for apparently dumping Central Station from its plans.
Merseytravel chair Cllr Mark Dowd last night hit out at the timescale being put forward: ?I will almost be dead by 2015. It?s not acceptable. How can we talk about something in seven years? time, it?s ridiculous.
?Network Rail are doing absolutely nothing except charging us for the stations.
?All we are asking for is Liverpool?s fair share of finance and we?re just not getting it.?
He plans to confront Network Rail at Merseytravel?s rail services committee in January.
A spokesman for Network Rail said: ?We believe that some small-scale work can be done to create enough capacity to accommodate the growth at Central Station, after five years we will need to look at it again and increase capacity further.?
Other plans in the RUS include lengthening peak-time services in Liverpool with the introduction of a new train fleet in 2014.
Daytime services from Chester to Liverpool could increase from every half-hour to every 15 minutes. Trains could also run faster.
Between 2014 and 2019, the Merseyrail network could expand with a new route to Skelmersdale.
Network Rail says it will redraft the RUS after the consultation ends, with firm plans published next spring.