More About Merseyrail Trains
Merseyrail is one of the most frequent British commuter systems outside London, transporting 100,000 passengers a day, with services running (on average) every 15 minutes during weekday daytime, and 30 minutes at evenings and weekends. Services run on two lines covering the Liverpool suburban area and greater Merseyside, with a total track length of 120 km, 75 miles and 67 stations.
Merseyrail Train Routes
The Northern Line links Liverpool with Southport, Ormskirk, Kirkby and Hunts Cross, while the Wirral Line, extending under the River Mersey, links Liverpool with New Brighton, West Kirby, Chester and Ellesmere Port. The two lines are entirely electrified, using a 750 V DC third-rail.
The name Merseyrail is also used by the Merseyside Passenger Transport Executive to describe other railway services on Merseyside. These are the City Line from Liverpool Lime Street to St Helens, Wigan, Warrington, Manchester, and Crewe.
The various lines are not tightly connected with Northern and City Line services both using Hunts Cross and the new Liverpool South Parkway to the south of the city while the Northern and Wirral lines both use Liverpool Central and Moorfields.
The Northern Line does not call at Lime Street; most passengers wishing to change between Northern Line and mainline services walk the short distance between Lime Street and Liverpool Central rather than changing to the Wirral Line's 'loop' to Lime Street.
MerseyRail & Bicycles
You can take bicycles on all Merseyrail Northern and Wirral Line trains, if space is available. However, for passenger safety and comfort, there may be restrictions at busy times. Please co-operate with other customers and staff in these circumstances. Ride About leaflets are available from all Merseyrail stations or by calling the Merseyrail Customer Relations department on 0151 702 2071.
Liverpool was once the world's second and the the UK's largest seaport. The City was also a major manufacturing hub and thrived with the industrial revolution. Since World War II the decline of industries and shipping adversely affected the City causing its population to drop from 850,000 in 1940 to 450,000 today. However, the metropolitan area has seen its population increase to 1.5 million inhabitants.
Liverpool is currently served by a metro-like system, Merseyrail, which is a service similar to the S-Bahn systems in many German cities or Australia's Sydney and Melbourne rail systems. Merseyrail contains three separate lines, two of which (Northern and Wirral Lines) are electrified and separate from all other rail traffic and travel in tunnels beneath central Liverpool. These lines also offer frequent (5 minute interval in central Liverpool off-peak) making it comparable to a metro. These two lines combined are often referred to as the Merseyrail Electrics or the Merseyrail Underground. The third line, the City Line utilizes diesel services that connect to neighbouring Manchester and do not utilize the underground portions of the Merseyrail network and cannot be considered a metro-like line.
Liverpool, however did have a true metro system. The congestion at the Liverpool docks led to the construction of an elevated metro system, the Liverpool Overhead Railway (LOR). The LOR was the world's fourth oldest metro and the first elevated system in Europe. The LOR was eventually abandoned in 1956 and subsequently torn down in 1957. To find out more about the LOR click here.
Merseyrail was created by combining several older electric train lines with new central city tunnels and newly built or electrified lines. The system included the Mersey Railway who built one of the world's first underwater railway tunnels (1886), which traversed the River Mersey. This railway was originally steamed powered, but the underwater tunnel became filled with smoke leading to a most unpleasant ride. Originally the line went from James Street in Liverpool to Green Lane in Birkenhead. Throughout the 1800s the Mersey Railway was extended both in Birkenhead and in Liverpool, where the tunnel was extended from James Street to Central Station, Liverpool. In 1903 the line was electrified using a third rail in order to make the trip beneath the Mersey more tolerable for riders.
Apart from the Mersey Railway the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway was also electrifying its suburban routes to the north of Liverpool. The Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway also electrified using a third rail system that was compatible with the Liverpool Overhead Railway and some reciprocal services were run between the two systems.
After 1938 when branches to West Kirby & New Brighton were electrified and through routed onto the Mersey Railway into Liverpool the electrified urban/suburban rail network of Liverpool saw no expansions until the 1970s. In the 60s plans were drawn up to create Merseyrail, using the existing and new electrified routes, a new cross-town tunnel and a reconstructed Mersey Railway tunnel under central Liverpool.
Between 1972 and 1977 the old Mersey Railway's tunnel was converted into a new single track circle line with trains operating in a clockwise direction. In 1978 a new north-south tunnel was opened connecting to the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway's electrified lines and was extended south over an abandoned railway, which was reactivated and electrified. The former Mersey Railway became the Wirral Line of the Merseyrail system and the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway became the Northern Line.
Privatization of the British Rail system proved disastrous for the Merseyrail Electrics the two lines were privatized and operated by a private company that went bankrupt causing many problems to the system. The subsequent franchisee lost its franchise and the system has now finally be taken up by a third franchise. This newest franchise is no longer as part of the British Rail system, but has been transferred to Liverpool's Public Transport Executive, MerseyTravel, who will now oversee the franchise. This arrangement was made possible because the Merseyrail Electrics is a completely segregated rail network.Rail Saver finds the most cost effective Merseyrail Train fares for your rail journey quickly and easilly. Enjoy more rail travel for less when you use Rail Saver to book your Merseyrail Train tickets online.