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Train at a station platform

Councillor calls for local railway improvements

by Gemma Melling

There are calls for a disused local railway line to be brought back into use – making it simple to travel between Newton-le-Willows and St Helens Central – without having to change trains.

It’s one of the requests being set out by senior St Helens Borough councillor (and ward member for Newton-le-Willows East) Sev Gomez-Aspron, who has written to the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (LCRCA) to request funding to help get a series of local railway improvements ‘on track’.

In a letter to Mayor of Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram, Cllr Gomez-Aspron, has asked for funding to be allocated to allow feasibility studies and further business cases to be carried out to:

  • Improve accessibility at Garswood Station
  • Extend Merseytravel services at Rainford Station
  • Build a new station at Carr Mill
  • Re-open Sutton Oak line between St Helens Central and St Helens Junction

Of particular interest to passengers in Newton-le-Willows would be the potential re-opening of the disused Sutton Oak line, which would allow direct travel from St Helens Central to Newton-le-Willows. Currently, the railway only links Newton-le-Willows with St Helens Junction, requiring travellers to go miles out of the way to change trains in order to connect with St Helens Central.

The council hopes the LCRCA will agree to find further funding to bring this closed line back into use, opening up a key route for local commuters.

What are the other improvements being suggested?

They are at:

Garswood Station

A gateway between the Greater Manchester and Liverpool City Regions, Garswood Station has no step-free access to get to platform two – a barrier for passengers with wheelchairs, prams or mobility issues.

It has been requested that Garswood is considered for any future ‘Access for All’ funding to provide a lift or ramp on platform two.

Rainford Station

Located on the Liverpool Central to Manchester line via Wigan, there are no Merseyrail services or direct trains to Liverpool from Rainford Station.

It is proposed that St Helens Borough Council collaborates with the LCRCA and Merseytravel to resolve the ridership issues at Rainford station in order for services to run directly from Rainford to Liverpool, with no changeover at Kirkby.

Carr Mill Station

With major housing developments either underway or earmarked for the area, a station at Carr Mill has the potential to generate high levels of rail patronage, improve access to housing and increase the number of journeys taken by sustainable travel modes.

Cllr Gomez-Aspron, who is Deputy Leader of St Helens Borough Council and Cabinet Member for Strategic Transport, said: “Rail improvements hold the potential to significantly improve connectivity and accessibility to and from the borough of St Helens with further economic benefits being derived. With these benefits in mind, the council would like to raise these four proposals for consideration, which we believe will greatly benefit the borough and the wider Liverpool City Region.

“The projects will investigate unlocking potential rail improvements throughout the borough, thereby contributing to the creation of a well-connected and accessible borough by rail. These improvements will further support our collective net zero ambitions by supporting an increase in trips by rail.”

He added: “Our borough is synonymous with the railway, from staging the Rainhill Trials in 1829 to having the oldest station building in the world at Earlestown, so it’s only right we have the appropriate infrastructure in place which we believe to be achievable as we look to create a well-connected, accessible transport system enabling our residents, businesses, and visitors to thrive.

“Through working with Mayor Rotherham and the City Region, we’ve delivered big transport projects at Newton-le-Willows, Lea Green and other locations, and we will continue to go forward as partners.”

 

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