Liverpool Lime Street railway station

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Liverpool Lime Street National Rail
Frontage of Liverpool Lime Street railway station.jpg
The frontage at Liverpool Lime Street
Place Liverpool
Local authority City of Liverpool
Coordinates 53°24′27″N 2°58′42″W / 53.4075°N 2.9784°W / 53.4075; -2.9784Coordinates: 53°24′27″N 2°58′42″W / 53.4075°N 2.9784°W / 53.4075; -2.9784
Grid reference SJ351905
Station code LIV
Managed by Network Rail (mainline)
Merseyrail (underground)
Number of platforms 9 + 1 underground
DfT category A (mainline)
D (underground)
Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections
from National Rail Enquiries
Annual rail passenger usage*
2012/13 Decrease 13.166 million
– Interchange  Increase 0.813 million
2013/14 Increase 14.237 million
– Interchange  Increase 1.001 million
2014/15 Increase 14.871 million
– Interchange  Increase 1.237 million
2015/16 Increase 15.227 million
– Interchange  Increase 1.336 million
2016/17 Increase 15.613 million
– Interchange  Decrease 1.104 million
Passenger Transport Executive
PTE Merseytravel
Zone C1
Original company Liverpool and Manchester Railway
Pre-grouping London and North Western Railway
Post-grouping London, Midland and Scottish Railway
15 August 1836 Opened
1977 Underground station opened
National RailUK railway stations
* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Liverpool Lime Street from Office of Rail and Road statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.
170433 at Edinburgh Waverley.JPG UK Railways portal
The Merseyrail map in use until 2018, when Maghull North will be included. Lime Street is visible on the right-hand side of the central loop.

Liverpool Lime Street is a terminus railway station, and the main station serving the city centre of Liverpool. Opened in August 1836, it is the oldest grand terminus mainline station still in use in the world.[citation needed] A large building constructed in the Renaissance Revival style fronts the station. A branch of the West Coast Main Line from London Euston terminates at the station, as well as TransPennine Express trains and other train services. The underground Lime Street Wirral Line station on the Merseyrail network is accessed via the main terminus. Lime Street is the largest and oldest railway station in Liverpool, and is one of 18 stations managed by Network Rail.[1]

In Britain's 100 Best Railway Stations by Simon Jenkins, the station was one of only ten to be awarded five stars.[2]


Construction to nationalisation[edit]

The original terminus of the 1830 Liverpool and Manchester Railway (L&MR) was located at Crown Street, in Edge Hill, to the east of and outside the city centre. A new station in the city centre was needed. Construction of a purpose-built station at Lime Street in the city centre began in October 1833; the land was purchased from Liverpool Corporation for £9,000 (equivalent to £780,000 in 2016).[3][4] A twin track tunnel was constructed between Edge Hill and the new station before the station was built in 1832; it was used to transport building materials for the station. The architects were Cunningham and Holme,[5] and John Foster Jr..[6] The station opened to the public in August 1836,[7] although construction was not completed until the following year. This building was designed with four large gateways, two of which were intentionally nonfunctional.[6][8][9] Due to the steep incline uphill from Lime Street to Edge Hill, trains were halted at Edge Hill. Locomotives were removed from the trains and the passenger carriages were taken down by gravity, with the descent controlled by brakemen in a brake van. The return journey was achieved by using a stationary steam engine, located at Edge Hill, to haul the carriages up to Edge Hill by rope. This system, constructed by Mather, Dixon and Company under the direction of John Grantham, ended in 1870.[10][11][12]

Within six years of opening, the rapid growth of the railways required expansion of the original station. A plan was formed to erect an iron roof similar to that found at Euston station in London, a ridge roof supported by iron columns. However, Richard Turner and William Fairburn submitted a design[13] for a single curved roof, which won the approval of the station committee.[citation needed] The work cost £15,000 (equivalent to £1,430,000 in 2016)[3] and was completed in 1849 with the involvement of William Tite.[7] Meanwhile, in 1845, the L&MR had been absorbed by its principal business partner, the Grand Junction Railway (GJR); the following year the GJR became part of the London and North Western Railway. A group of four columns, adjoining platform 1 and attributed to Edward Woods, date to the 1846–1850 rebuild of the station.[14]

By 1857 two granite columns had been erected outside the station entrance and had become known as the "Candlesticks".[6][15] In 1867 further expansion was needed and included the present northern arched train shed. Designed by William Baker and Francis Stevenson[16][17][nb 1] and with a span of 200 feet (61 m), it was the largest in the world at the time.[21] It was also the first train shed in which iron was used throughout. A second parallel southern train shed was completed in 1879, designed by Stevenson and E.W. Ives;[16][22] notably, it was of dry construction[nb 2] and each bay took only three days to build.[13][nb 3]

The station is fronted by a large building in the Renaissance Revival style, the former North Western Hotel.[24] Designed by Alfred Waterhouse, the building was built in 1871 and is now accommodation for students of Liverpool John Moores University.[25][26]

At "The Grouping" in 1923, the station passed into the ownership of the London, Midland and Scottish (LMS) railway. The Post Office first sent mail by train from Lime Street.[27]

British Rail[edit]

The station's frontage seen in 2006, including the Concourse House tower block and a row of shops, which were demolished in 2009.

Upon nationalisation in 1948, the station passed to the London Midland Region of British Railways. Lime Street's present signal box was commissioned on 28 January 1948.[28] The station concourse was redeveloped in 1955.[7] In 1959, preparations began at Lime Street for the first stage of electrification of the West Coast Main Line.[29] On 1 January 1962, electric services between Lime Street and Crewe officially began.[30] On 18 April 1966, the station hosted the launch of its first InterCity service, introducing a 100 mph (160 km/h) service between Liverpool and London.[31][32][33][34] On 11 August 1968, the Fifteen Guinea Special, a return service to Carlisle, was hauled by the Black Five locomotive 45110 from Liverpool to Manchester Victoria and back. The train arrived back at Lime Street at 7:58 pm, marking the end of British Railways' final steam-hauled mainline passenger journey.[8][35]

An office tower block named Concourse House and a row of small shops used to stand outside the southern train shed, obscuring the arches. These dated from the 1960s, and by the 2000s had become run down.[36] They were demolished as part of a comprehensive refurbishment completed in 2010.

With the creation of the Merseyrail urban rail network in the 1970s, four terminus stations were taken out of use in Liverpool and Birkenhead centres,[nb 4] leaving only Lime Street terminus as a central point to serve the whole region for medium- and long-haul routes. The Merseyrail network gave ease of access for the whole Merseyside region to the one remaining large terminus.

The station concourse was again altered in 1983-4, with the total cost of refurbishment estimated at £7.4 million.[7][37][38][39] This work included the construction of the black glass building which partially surrounds platforms 1 to 6, and the glass screen which separates the concourse from platforms 7 to 9.[14] The alterations also coincided with the opening of the International Garden Festival.[38] The new development was officially opened by Princess Anne on 29 November 1984.[40][better source needed]


Statues of Ken Dodd and Bessie Braddock, installed in 2009

On 20 October 2003, the Pendolino service operated by Virgin Trains, introducing a faster service between Liverpool and London, was ceremonially unveiled in the presence of Richard Branson.[41] The main concourse features a pair of statues of Ken Dodd and Bessie Braddock, a work entitled "Chance Meeting" by sculptor Tom Murphy, unveiled by Ken Dodd in June 2009.[42]

On the occasions of Liverpool's role as European Capital of Culture in 2008, and the city's 800th anniversary in 2007, the station and its immediate surroundings received a £35 million redevelopment grant. The Lime Street Gateway Project saw the retail parade and office block in front of the station demolished, and an improved frontage and public plaza built.[7] Subsequently, Lime Street was voted Station of the Year 2010 at the National Rail Awards.[43] The development was overseen by English Partnerships and was completed in October 2010.[7]

On 31 August 2014, the Earl of Wessex unveiled a memorial to the Liverpool Pals at the station. The memorial comprises two bronze friezes, which were also sculpted by Tom Murphy.[44] Platforms 1–5 were fully refurbished by Network Rail, also in 2014.[45]

Electrification to Manchester and Wigan[edit]

Completion of electrification of the former Liverpool and Manchester Railway's route, and the line to Wigan via St Helens Central, in May 2015 led to a recast of timetables. This included the introduction of a brand new TransPennine Express service to Newcastle via Manchester Victoria, running alongside the existing service to Scarborough via Warrington Central and Manchester Piccadilly. It was unclear whether suitable electric rolling stock would be available in time for the completion of the work,[46] but it was confirmed in April 2014 that electric trains would be available to operate the new electric services, and the first trains were introduced from March 2015, initially on the service to Manchester Airport, with services to Wigan North Western, Manchester Victoria and Warrington Bank Quay following over the course of the year.[47][48]

2017 wall collapse[edit]

On 28 February 2017, the station was cut off after a wall collapsed into the cutting between Lime Street and Edge Hill,[49] causing more than 200 tonnes of debris to fall onto the track. While the line was blocked, Virgin trains terminated at Runcorn and other trains terminated at Liverpool South Parkway.[50] The debris was cleared up, with repairs made to the overhead wires, and the station reopened just over a week later on 8 March 2017.[51][52][53]

2017–18 station remodelling[edit]

The former "cab road", between platforms 7 and 8, which is due to be replaced by two new platforms.

A £340m remodelling of the station began taking place in 2017.[54] It will create two new platforms between the existing platforms 7 and 8, with other platforms being lengthened and widened.[55][56] The remodelling will allow for new services to Glasgow, starting in 2019. A supermarket and new shops will also be built.[54] The station was mostly closed for twenty-three days from 30 September 2017 (limited services ran to/from Huyton and beyond during the latter stages of this blockade). The station will again close from 2 June 2018 to 29 July 2018, however limited services to and from Blackpool, Preston, Wigan, St Helens and Manchester Victoria will run from the station between 11 June 2018 and 12 July 2018.[57]

Station layout[edit]

Liverpool Lime Street is divided into two sections: the mainline station, which offers national inter-city and regional overground services including local City Line routes, and services on the Wirral Line on the Merseyrail network, located underground between the mainline station and St George's Hall.

Mainline station[edit]

The station is fronted by the former North Western Hotel, built in the Renaissance Revival style resembling a French Château.

The mainline station is still covered by the vast iron and glass roofs dating from the 1870s. Platforms 1 to 6 are shorter than 7 to 9, the latter dealing mainly with long-distance services to London, Birmingham, Leeds, Sheffield and Norwich. Access to platforms 1–6 is through a ticket inspection barrier similar to airport passport control, while platform 7 is now gated with the creation of new shops and facilities. Platforms 8 and 9 are still "open".

In 2009, new buildings were erected in the old "cab road" area between platforms 7 and 8. These currently house customer lounges, the Virgin Trains customer service point, and an ATM, and there are retail units which have coffee shops amongst the units.

Platform 6 will eventually be straightened (it is curved at present) as part of the station resignalling scheme due for completion in 2017.

There are also four non-passenger tracks.[58] Three of these are headshunts, created in the Northern trainshed to turn locomotives around: Track A, in between platforms 1 and 2; track B, serving platforms 3 and 4; and track D, for platforms 5 and 6. There is also a platform with no passenger service between platforms 6 and 7, known as platform E, or sometimes affectionately as platform 6¾.

The station interior and approach
The main concourse of Lime Street station
The main concourse of Lime Street station, inside the northern trainshed, displaying the alterations from the 1980s 
A reverse view of the main concourse of Lime Street station
The main drop off point at the station, inside the southern trainshed 
Main drop off point at the station
One of two large Joyce of Whitchurch clocks at the station, this one on the inside face of the southern trainshed. 
One of the two large Joyce of Whitchurch clocks at the station
A reverse view of the main concourse of Lime Street station, inside the northern trainshed, displaying the other Joyce of Whitchurch clock on the inside face 
Liverpool Lime Street Approach
From Edge Hill, the Liverpool Lime Street Approach is a descent at a gradient of 1 in 88, covering a distance of 1 mi 30 ch (2.2 km).[59] 


Toilets, booking offices, shops, a left-luggage office, taxi ranks and coffee bars are amongst the facilities provided. The main booking office is operated by Northern. The concourse of the station contains several shops, including branches of M&S Simply Food, Caffè Nero, Costa Coffee, Boots and WHSmith.[7] Car parking is managed by APCOA.[7] The station also has two taxi ranks.[60]

Public transport links[edit]

The station has direct bus services to the Liverpool One bus station on the 10A, C4 and C5 routes (Until July 2017), and from the bus station for Liverpool John Lennon Airport use services 86A (frequent & night services) and 500. The bus services are provided by Arriva, and Cumfybus.[61]


The main station is currently served by five train operating companies serving a wide variety of destinations, but the service has been much reduced in recent times. For example, it is no longer possible to travel directly to Edinburgh, Plymouth, Southampton and Cardiff without changing trains. Services out of Lime Street (as of May 2016) are as follows:

An East Midlands Trains Class 158 at Platform 6

East Midlands Trains[edit]

East Midlands Trains operate an hourly service to Norwich via Warrington Central, Manchester Piccadilly, Stockport, Sheffield and Nottingham. Late afternoon and evening services terminate or start at Nottingham.[62]

TransPennine Express[edit]

TransPennine Express operates an hourly service to Newcastle via Manchester Victoria, Leeds and York as well as an hourly service to Scarborough via Warrington Central, Manchester Piccadilly, Leeds and York. Late services start or terminate at York and Manchester Piccadilly.[63]

A London Midland Class 350 at Platform 8

London Northwestern Railway[edit]

London Northwestern Railway operate a half hourly service to Birmingham New Street via Runcorn, Crewe, Stafford and Wolverhampton. Late services also terminate/start at Crewe or Stafford. A number of services are extended beyond Birmingham New Street to start or terminate at Walsall or Birmingham International.[64]

A Class 319 at Platform 2. The new electric services to Manchester Victoria and Wigan North Western were both officially timetabled from 17 May 2015,[65] under Northern Rail's branding of Northern Electrics.


Northern is the main train operating company at Lime Street, operating the ticket office. Services include:

A Virgin Trains Class 390 at Platform 7

Virgin Trains[edit]

Virgin Trains operate an hourly Pendolino service to London Euston calling at Runcorn, Crewe and Stafford (peak services call additionally at Lichfield Trent Valley, Tamworth, Nuneaton, Rugby, Milton Keynes Central and Watford Junction).[68]

Preceding station National Rail National Rail Following station
Terminus   East Midlands Trains
Liverpool - Norwich
  Liverpool South Parkway
Terminus   TransPennine Express
North TransPennine
  Manchester Victoria
    Liverpool South Parkway
Terminus   London Northwestern Railway
Liverpool Lime Street to Birmingham New Street
  Liverpool South Parkway
Terminus   Northern
Liverpool to Wigan Line
  Edge Hill
Liverpool to Manchester Line
Liverpool South Parkway   Northern
Liverpool to Preston Line
Terminus   Northern
Liverpool Lime Street - Manchester Airport
Technology Park
Terminus   Virgin Trains
WCML Liverpool Branch
  Future services  
Terminus   TBA
Northern Powerhouse Rail
  Warrington Bank Quay

Proposed services[edit]

Long Term Rail Strategy Proposals[edit]

In a long term rail strategy by Merseyrail, new direct services to Cardiff, Bristol, Leicester, Derby, Glasgow Central and Edinburgh Waverley have been proposed.[69] Other connections included to Cardiff (via Shrewsbury and Wrexham.


As part of the TransPennine Express (TPE) franchise agreement (awarded to FirstGroup which started services in April 2016), there will be three new direct services per day to Glasgow Central via Preston along the West Coast main line.[70] The current hourly TPE Newcastle route will also be extended via Morpeth to Edinburgh Waverley.

In 2005 Renaissance Trains proposed a twice-daily service from Lime Street to Glasgow Central, with weekend trains running instead from Blackpool to Glasgow.[71][72] The proposal did not get enough investment backing, but was revived in 2014.[73]

Chester and North Wales via the Halton Curve[edit]

Proposals to upgrade the Halton Curve have been considered by, among others, Merseytravel and the North Cheshire Rail User's Group.[74] This would provide a second rail route between Liverpool and Chester, and would permit the introduction of new direct services from Liverpool to Wrexham, Llandudno and other parts of North Wales. In 2014, George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced that £10.4m of funding had been found for the Curve to reopen. In May 2015, Merseytravel published the business case for the reopening of the curve and forecast one train per hour running along the curve from Liverpool Lime Street, initially to Chester but with the potential for running to Wrexham. This would give residents in Chester/Wrexham a direct train to Liverpool Airport and the service could be running by 2018.[75][76]

London Euston[edit]

It was also proposed by 2016 that London Midland will also operate an hourly service to London Euston (as an extension of its existing Trent Valley semi-fast service).[needs update]


As part of the new Northern franchise agreement (awarded to Arriva, which started in April 2016), from December 2017 there will be a new "Northern Connect" service to Leeds via Manchester Victoria and Bradford Interchange (replacing the current all-stations local service to Victoria).[77] This is the first time there is a direct service through to Rochdale, Halifax and Bradford Interchange since the timetable change on 10 December 2006 when Northern terminated all services at Manchester Victoria.

Withdrawn services[edit]

Certain direct trains to and from Liverpool Lime Street station have been withdrawn since 2000. These include the following services:

In addition, former British Rail services to Scotland, Wrexham and other parts of North Wales, Bradford Interchange, Harwich and Leicester no longer operate.

Underground station[edit]

The refurbished Wirral Line platform, at Lime Street underground station in 2015, with a Merseyrail Class 507 service

The underground station consists of a single platform, alongside the Liverpool Loop tunnel, a single track tunnel bored in the 1970s, and a ticket hall above. The station, opened in 1977, is connected to the mainline station by means of a pedestrian subway and escalators, accessed via a long passageway which crosses beneath Lime Street itself, and by a lift from the main concourse.

As part of a programme of improvements by Merseytravel, the underground station has been fitted with automatic ticket barriers and machines.

A new M to Go shop was opened in late 2011.

2013 refurbishment[edit]

Network Rail announced in early 2013 that Lime Street was to be the third station to be refurbished as part of the £40 million investment which would see all Merseyrail underground stations excluding Conway Park refurbished. This included the refurbishment of the platform and the booking hall. The station refurbishment work took place between April and August 2013.[78][79]

Subway refurbishment[edit]

The subway linking the underground station to the mainline station was refurbished in June 2014. The subway was fitted out with new tiles, lighting, flooring and automatic doors to some of the entrances.[80]

Recent history[edit]

The underground station had WiFi installed in January 2016.[81]

In March 2016, it was announced that the Wirral Line loop would be having its track renewed. The underground station was closed between 3 January 2017 and 18 June 2017 whilst the works took place.[82]


Services operate on a 5-minute frequency Monday-Saturday, and between 5- and 10-minute frequency on Sundays in the winter. All trains travel through to Liverpool Central and Birkenhead of which:

  • 4 trains per hour continue to New Brighton
  • 4 trains per hour continue to West Kirby
  • 4 trains per hour continue to Chester
  • 2 trains per hour continue to Ellesmere Port

To reach destinations on the Northern Line of the network, passengers must either use the Wirral Line and change at Liverpool Central station or walk the short distance to the station.

Preceding station National Rail National Rail Following station
(one-way operation)
Wirral Line
  Liverpool Central
towards New Brighton, West Kirby,
Chester or Ellesmere Port


  1. ^ William Baker was the L&NWR's chief engineer at the time of the northern roof construction. Stevenson, who was Baker's assistant engineer at the time of the construction, succeeded Baker as the L&NWR's chief engineer upon Baker's death in 1878.[18][19][20]
  2. ^ That is, without the use of mortar.
  3. ^ E.W. Ives' (Edward William Ives) method was later applied to the design and construction of the Liverpool Overhead Railway.[23]
  4. ^ These were Birkenhead Woodside, Liverpool Riverside, Liverpool Exchange and Liverpool Central High Level stations.


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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]