Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram has launched the UK’s first battery trains with an official trip from the new station at Headbolt Lane in Kirkby.
The GBP 80 million (EUR 92 million) new station is being served by the pioneering battery-technology on the city region’s new trains, which has enabled the first expansion of the Merseyrail network in 29 years.
This is the first passenger rail service in the UK to be operated using battery-technology and opens up the opportunity of future expansion of the network beyond the city region.
The innovative trains “will help us to significantly reduce our carbon footprint, paving the way for a cleaner, greener integrated London-style transport network. Headbolt Lane station sets a new standard for public transport in this country – and it’s the very least that our residents deserve,” the Mayor of the Liverpool City Region said.
The battery-train technology is initially being fitted on seven of the city region’s state-of-the-art class 777 trains. In a phased roll-out to ease in the new technology, the station will initially be served by one Merseyrail service per hour to Liverpool Central, then services will gradually increase to four trains per hour.
Network Rail and its delivery partners will be working to complete some works, including the car park, caused by issues with Buckingham Group. The station will therefore open with limited spaces before reaching full capacity in the coming weeks.
The battery technology removes the need for a live third rail, which could enable the Merseyrail network to run to places previously inaccessible, including as far as Manchester, Wrexham, Warrington, Preston and Runcorn.
The UK’s first battery trains will run each hour and will operate initially between Headbolt Lane and Liverpool Central while more services will be added gradually until a full 15-minute service is in place. Two services per hour will continue to operate between Liverpool and Kirkby for the immediate future, with one of those trains also stopping at Headbolt Lane station as the full timetable is gradually introduced.
The extension of the Merseyrail line to Headbolt Lane has been years in the making and will provide easier access to services for people in the Tower Hill and Northwood areas of the town. It will also make it more accessible to people from across Knowsley, Rainford and West Lancashire.
“It’s also the first time in 29 years that we have extended one of our lines and it’s thanks to the innovative new battery technology on the groundbreaking new fleet of class 777 trains being introduced by the Combined Authority. This truly is a milestone moment, as well as being a starting point for ambitious plans to grow the Merseyrail network over the coming years,” Managing Director of Merseyrail, said.