Liverpool Central station celebrates 150 years of public transport service

Liverpool Central station, which serves both the Wirral and Northern lines on the Merseyrail network, is celebrating its 150th birthday this week.

The city centre station was opened this week in 1874 and has been an integral part of the transport infrastructure of the Liverpool City Region ever since.

Before the station was built the area had been used as a large timber yard, but the site was identified by the Cheshire Lines Committee as the ideal location for a new terminus.

Originally the station had train services to Manchester Central, London St Pancras, London Marylebone, Hull, Harwich, Stockport Tiviot Dale, and the old Southport station on Lord Street.

Although Liverpool already had an underground railway – opened in 1886 and the oldest in the world after London – Liverpool Central was not connected to the subway system until 1892, when Mersey Railways extended their route from James Street into the heart of the city centre.

During World War Two the station was heavily used for services beyond its normal schedule following the damage caused to other stations in the city, particularly Liverpool Exchange station in Moorfields.

Following the Beeching Report of 1963, the upper platforms were removed, and the area became a car park for a number of years.

Class 777 at Central Station

However, in the 1970s a new plan for the future of transport in Merseyside and the wider region began to take shape with the construction of what we know today as the Merseyrail network.

Extensive engineering work was undertaken to create the modern underground system that the city now enjoys and benefits from.

Today the station is the busiest in Liverpool, and the second busiest station in the North West of England behind only Manchester Piccadilly.

With more than 11m journeys made from the station in 2023, it is the tenth busiest station outside of London in the United Kingdom.

In 2011 the station underwent a renovation to help it to cope with the increasing numbers of customers who use the local train network. And Central has been the focus of celebrations in the city with events being held to mark Eurovision and The Open Golf Championship in the last 12 months.

Neil Grabham, Managing Director of Merseyrail, said, “It’s a testament to the hard work of generations of railway workers that Liverpool Central has marked 150 years serving the people of the Liverpool City Region.

“In the spirit of those that came before them, today’s Merseyrail team continue to work tirelessly to ensure our customers get the best experience possible when using the station. The significant investment that is currently being made in the station, including a second lift and new toilet facilities will help protect this vital part of our regions rail system for many years to come.”

Image: Class 503 stock farewell tour at Liverpool Central Northern Line, courtesy of Paul Gorton collection

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