Rail history made as UK’s first battery-powered trains launched in Liverpool City Region

“Once again, our region is making railway history” said Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram today as the UK’s first battery-powered trains made their maiden trip from the new station at Headbolt Lane in Kirkby.

As part of an historic day, which saw the new publicly-owned trains carry passengers to and from the new £80m station, the Mayor was joined by passengers, residents and rail enthusiasts alike in his hometown to celebrate the start of services.  

The 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.

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region said, “As a Kirkby native, I know how long local people have been talking about a station at Headbolt Lane. Thanks to devolution and the power it gives us to shape our own destiny, we’ve turned that talk into reality.

“We’ve invested £80m in this fully accessible, state of the art train station, served by our new publicly owned, battery powered trains. They are the first of their kind in the country and 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. We’re incredibly grateful to local people and passengers on the Kirkby line for their patience and understanding throughout this project – I hope they’ll agree with me that it’s been worth the wait!”

Neil Grabham, Managing Director of Merseyrail said, “We are so pleased to welcome our new customers from the communities around Tower Hill, Northwood and across West Lancashire who will use this fantastic new station to access the Merseyrail network for the first time.

“It’s 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, that we are able to deliver this historic change. 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.

“As is the case across our network, our friendly team at Headbolt Lane station can’t wait to welcome our first customers through the door, as trains begin to operate on this part of the network for the first-time next week.”

Craig Harrop, Regional Director for Northern, said, “We’re proud to play our part in providing a rail service to this brand-new station at Headbolt Lane. Passengers can travel directly from Manchester and Wigan and easily connect on to the Merseyrail Network.

“All investment in the rail industry is welcome and Headbolt Lane has been a great addition to the Liverpool city-region’s public transport infrastructure.”

Philippa Britton, Principal Programme Sponsor for Network Rail said, “We are absolutely delighted to see the new Headbolt Lane train station officially open to the community this morning.

“It was fantastic to witness Liverpool City Region’s new state of the art train pull up to the platform, and the new rolling stock, station and track extension will be transformational for rail travel right across the Merseyrail network.”

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 outstanding 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.

Headbolt Lane will be the second new station opened by the Mayor since his election, and the first delivered under Merseyrail for All, a commitment to expanding the local rail network across the city region.

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.

Both the new station and the region’s publicly owned trains are central to the Mayor’s plans to deliver a London-style transport network, which aims to make the region’s public transport quicker, cheaper, greener and more reliable.

Over 20,000 people in the Northwood and Shevington areas of Kirkby are set to benefit from having the new rail service on their doorstep – particularly important as 60% of households do not own a car in these areas.

With a bus interchange providing services to Skelmersdale, cycle parking, and links to active travel networks, the fully accessible station will provide smoother connections to public transport services, encouraging greater use.

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