MCRUA supports the Halton Curve upgrade ….

Posted on June 19th, 2015, by The Chairman

MCRUA has sent a letter of support to Merseytravel in respect of the proposed upgrade of the Halton Curve.

A copy of the letter can be downloaded here – haltoncurve_l1

For those who would rather not download it, here it is ….


16 June 2015


Mr Frank Rogers

Director of Integrated Transport Services


Mann Island

PO Box 1976


L69 3HN


Dear Mr Rogers

Halton Curve

The Mid Cheshire Rail Users Association (MCRUA) has over 500 members.  The Mid Cheshire Line has seen very strong passenger growth over the last 10 years with an increase of 164% in passenger numbers at the stations between Navigation Road and Mouldsworth, i.e. those served only by the Mid Cheshire Line.  We understand this is more than 3 times the national average.

MCRUA strongly supports the Halton Curve rail project and the work being led by Merseytravel on behalf of the Liverpool City Region, along with the Welsh Government and Network Rail.  We recognise the importance of the work planned for the development of the infrastructure and welcome the opportunity this brings to link the wider economic areas of the Liverpool City Region, Cheshire and North Wales, as well as other parts of North West England, as part of an incremental approach.

In respect of the two lines we represent, we can see important benefits as follows:

  • Winsford, Hartford and Acton Bridge stations on the Crewe-Liverpool line suffer from a rather patchy timetable of services to/from Liverpool due, we are told to the congestion on the line between Winsford and Weaver Junction not only from passenger trains, but also from freight services.  These include freight services originating in the Liverpool, Widnes and Runcorn areas.  If some of these freight services travelled south from Liverpool/Widnes/Runcorn using the Halton Curve releasing freight paths on the West Coast Main Line, Winsford and Hartford could well have a half-hourly service throughout the day, and Acton Bridge an hourly service.
  • the release of freight paths over this section might also provide the opportunity for the long-demanded local service from Crewe to Preston via Winsford, Hartford, Warrington Bank Quay and Wigan North Western.  Currently, users at these Cheshire stations have to join a train heading south in order to travel north, finding themselves eventually travelling north through their original departure station up to an hour later.  Unsurprisingly, many drive to Crewe, Warrington or Wigan instead, or indeed drive all the way.
  • train services on the Mid Cheshire Line (Chester-Northwich-Knutsford-Manchester) are provided by Northern Rail using units based at Newton Heath Depot in North Manchester and class 156 units from Allerton Depot.  If Northern could move class 156 units more easily to Chester from/to Allerton using the Halton Curve, they could reduce the distances travelled by empty stock transfers early in the morning and late at night.  It would also help reduce congestion at Newton Heath Depot and in the carriage sidings at Longsight Depot.
  • potential passengers on the western half of the Mid Cheshire Line for Liverpool South Parkway and Liverpool John Lennon Airport are faced with a rather difficult journey, having to travel via Chester, then on Merseyrail to central Liverpool and then out to Liverpool South Parkway.  We understand a direct service from Chester would more than halve the travel time to Liverpool South Parkway for these passengers.  This would make the use of Liverpool John Lennon Airport far more attractive.  Currently potential users face a long rail journey or the use of a car, risking the traffic jams on the Runcorn-Widnes Bridge and suffering the car parking charges.  This compares unfavourably to gaining access to Manchester Airport which is via a train to Altrincham and the half-hourly 20 minute bus ride from there to the airport.

If you wish to discuss these comments further or any related matters please feel free to be in touch.

Yours sincerely.


John Oates



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