Liverpool Central railway station
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|Number of platforms||3|
|Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections
from National Rail Enquiries
|Annual rail passenger usage*|
|- Interchange||0.412 million|
|- Interchange||0.408 million|
|- Interchange||0.315 million|
|- Interchange||0.399 million|
|Passenger Transport Executive|
|2 March 1874||Opened (High Level)|
|11 January 1892||Opened (Low Level)|
|17 April 1972||Closed (High Level)|
|28 July 1975||Closed (Low Level)|
|9 May 1977||Reopened (Low Level)|
|23 April 2012||
Closed(Low Level Refurbishment)
|25 August 2012||
Partially Reopened(Concourse and Wirral line)
|22 October 2012||Fully Reopened|
|National Rail – UK railway stations|
|* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Liverpool Central from Office of Rail and Road statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.|
Liverpool Central railway station in Liverpool, England, forms a central hub of the Merseyrail network, being on both the Northern Line and the Wirral Line. The station is located underground on two levels, below the site of a former mainline terminus. It is the busiest station in Liverpool, though considerably smaller than Lime Street station, the mainline terminus, and the busiest station to operate fully the Merseyrail network. In terms of passenger entries and exits between April 2010 and March 2011, Liverpool Central is the seventh-busiest station outside London. The station is the busiest underground station outside London serving 40,000 people daily. The station in passengers per platform is the busiest underground railway station in the United Kingdom at 5,217,547 per platform per annum and laying third in all stations, underground or overground.
Liverpool Central is one of nine stations on the Merseyrail network to incorporate automatic ticket gates. The main concourse is part of a shopping centre and includes a subway link to the former Lewis's department store.
High level terminal station
The original station, which was a large, above-ground terminal station, opened on 2 March 1874, at the end of the Cheshire Lines Committee (CLC) line to Manchester Central. It replaced Brunswick station as the CLC's Liverpool terminus, becoming the headquarters of the committee. The three-storey building fronted Ranelagh Street in the city centre, with a 65 feet (20 m) high, arched iron and glass train shed behind.
There were 6 platforms within the station, offering journeys to Manchester Central (in 45 minutes, making the route the quickest and most direct between Liverpool and Manchester), London St. Pancras, Hull, Harwich, Stockport Tiviot Dale, Southport Lord Street and an alternative London route to that of the Midland Railway, terminating at London Marylebone.
Until the nationalisation of Britain's railways, the station was always busy, but as with many other stations in the UK, it was closed under the Beeching Axe, as the routes served could be taken from nearby Liverpool Lime Street. In 1966, most services on the CLC route were diverted to Liverpool Lime Street via the Hunts Cross chord, leaving only a dozen urban commuter trains per day to and from Gateacre. These final services were withdrawn on 17 April 1972 with a promise to reinstate the Gateacre route when the Merseyrail network was completed in 1978.
The High Level station was demolished in 1973, having served a short time as a car park, although some former station buildings remained while work was in progress on rebuilding the underground station in the mid-1970s. The area of the train shed now forms the centre of the planned Central Village development.
Underground urban station
On 11 January 1892 Liverpool Central Low Level underground terminal station opened, at the end of the Mersey Railway's route, via the Mersey Railway Tunnel from Birkenhead, when the route was extended from James Street. The Mersey Railway platforms were underground, accessed from stairs within the High Level station and situated in roughly the same position as the escalators accessing the Merseyrail Northern Line today.
The Mersey Railway tunnel entering Central Low Level from the north of the station was aligned with the high level station's approach tunnel from the south. This was to ensure minimum engineering work if ever there was to be a link up of the two tunnels – as did occur when the two tunnels were linked in the 1970s.
A new loop tunnel was built in Liverpool city centre for Wirral Line trains, linking James Street with Moorfields, Lime Street, Liverpool Central and returning to James Street. A new deep-level underground platform was built at Liverpool Central as part of this loop tunnel.
The former CLC route was taken underground connecting to the underground Mersey Railway platforms. Another new tunnel, the Link Tunnel, allowed trains to continue northwards via Moorfields to the approach lines to Liverpool Exchange, creating one long line from Hunts Cross to Southport. Liverpool Exchange terminal station was closed in 1977. This route became the Merseyrail Northern Line. The rebuilt underground station opened by British Rail in 1977.
In the original 1970s Merseyrail plan, southbound trains would have continued to Warrington and Manchester; however, services terminated at Garston, then later extended to Hunts Cross. Simultaneously, works to allow the Merseyrail Northern Line to be connected to the Victoria Tunnel, called the Edge Hill Spur, to connect the eastern section of the city to the city centre underground section were undertaken then later abandoned. Trains would have operated from Central station to the east of the city and out to St Helens.
On 26 October 2005 a Wirral Line train derailed on the approach to Liverpool Central en route from Liverpool Lime Street. There were no serious injuries; however, the design of the Liverpool Loop meant that all Wirral Line services through the Loop were suspended for the remainder of the week, terminating at James Street.
The statistics for interchanges at this station exclude exchanges between trains, estimated at around 2 million, and concessionary pass holders.
It was announced in September 2011 that, as part of the Central Village multimillion-pound development, as well as a £40 million investment from Network Rail, Liverpool Central was to have a major refurbishment programme to allow improvement works to take place. All the underground stations, excluding Conway Park would be involved in the investment, with half that amount earmarked for Liverpool Central allowing necessary improvement works to take place, primarily to the platform area of the station, although the concourse will also see major improvements including new lighting, flooring, new toilet facilities and new escalators to the Northern Line platforms.
On 23 April 2012 the entire station closed for refurbishment. The station partly reopened on 25 August 2012 where the refurbishment of the main concourse and Wirral Line platform was completed, however the Northern Line platforms remained closed. The station fully reopened on 22 October 2012 with the reopening of the Northern Line platforms.
On 22 October 2015, free WiFi was installed and introduced at the station.
On 21 March 2016 t was announced that the Wirral Line Loop (and the Mersey railway Tunnel) will be having its track renewed. The Wirral Line platform is due to be closed between 3 January and 18 June 2017 whilst these works take place.
A street level travel centre opened in November 2009 which sells tickets, newspapers, food and drink, replacing the former ticket office and newsagents. There are also toilets, cash and food vending machines. Escalators and lifts lead to the two Northern Line platforms and the deep-level Wirral Line platform.
There are plans to develop the car park behind Central Station (bounded by the rear of the station, Cropper Street, Newington and Bold Street) into Central Village. The 'village' will consist of a high rise tower for residential and business use, retail outlets, bars and restaurants and will also have a canal running the length of Bold Street. Planning permission has been granted to develop this area, which has been relatively derelict since the demolition of the High Level Station in the 1970s.
The DfT (Department for Transport) has announced funding for a second lift at the station.
On the Northern Line, off-peak service level is as follows:
- 4 trains per hour to Southport
- 4 trains per hour to Ormskirk
- 4 trains per hour to Kirkby
- 4 trains per hour to Hunts Cross via Liverpool South Parkway
During late evenings, frequencies are reduced to 2 trains per hour on the Kirkby and Ormskirk branches; the Southport and Hunts Cross service retains 4 trains per hour until end of service.
Sunday services reflect the evening service, but the service from Southport to Hunts Cross is also reduced to 2 trains per hour on Sundays. Services remain at 4 trains per hour on Sunday during the summer season to Southport.
On the Wirral Line, off-peak service level is as follows:
- 4 trains per hour to New Brighton
- 4 trains per hour to West Kirby
- 4 trains per hour to Chester
- 2 trains per hour to Ellesmere Port
There are also extra services between Liverpool Central and Hooton during peak times. During early hours, late evenings and on Sundays, frequencies are reduced to 2 trains per hour on all branches. These services are all provided by Merseyrail's fleet of Class 507 and Class 508 EMUs.
Northern Line Services use Platforms 1 and 2 at the station. Usually trains to Ormskirk and Hunts Cross depart from Platform 1 and trains to Southport and Kirkby use Platform 2, although delays on the trains can cause these to change. All Wirral Line services depart from Platform 3.
Northern to Wirral services
Empty Coaching Stock (non-passenger) services have to reverse at Liverpool Central station, when going from Kirkdale Depot to Birkenhead North TMD and vice versa, making use of a single track chord known as the "Stock Interchange Line" linking Liverpool James Street station (Wirral Line) and Liverpool Central (Northern Line). No passenger services are scheduled to use the link, although it has seen very occasional use by charter trains. This was the route taken by Wirral Line trains between Central L.L & James Street prior to the building of the Link & Loop tunnels in the 1970s.
|Preceding station||National Rail||Following station|
Ormskirk or Kirkby
towards Hunts Cross
|Liverpool Lime Street
towards New Brighton, West Kirby,
Chester or Ellesmere Port
- Pigott, Nick, ed. (June 2012). "Waterloo still London's busiest station". The Railway Magazine (Horncastle, Lincs) 158 (1334): 6.
- "Rush-hour commuter train derailed". BBC News. 26 October 2005. Retrieved 19 October 2007.
- "Station Usage 2005/06" (PDF). National Rail usage statistics (2005/2006). DeltaRail. May 2007. Retrieved 3 March 2009.
- "Liverpool underground stations get £40m overhaul". BBC News. 5 September 2011. Retrieved 5 September 2011.
- Northern Line Reopening
- Merseyrail Introduces WiFi at Five Underground Stations
- Wirral Track Renewal
- Katie Daubney (12 May 2009). "Go-ahead for Liverpool Central Village". PlanningResource. Retrieved 17 November 2009.
- "Wirral Line Train Times – 8 December 2013 to 17 May 2014" (PDF). Merseyrail. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
- "Third Rail Centenary Tracker"Heyevents 7 February 2016; Retrieved 18 May 2016
- Hughes, John C. (October 2005). "The Liverpool Central Station Railway (Part One)". Back Track. Vol. 19 no. 10 (Pendragon Publishing). ISSN 0955-5382.
- Hughes, John C. (December 2005). "The Liverpool Central Station Railway (Part Two)". Back Track. Vol. 19 no. 12 (Pendragon Publishing). ISSN 0955-5382.
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