WORK on the 1.5 mile ‘Halton Curve’ rail track has started unlocking leisure and business opportunities between the Liverpool City Region, Cheshire and North Wales.

This project due to cost a maximum £18.75m is being funded through the Government’s 'Growth Deal' and the Liverpool City Region.

Delivered by Network Rail The Halton Curve scheme is bringing back into full use the section of the line that links the Chester/Warrington line and the Liverpool/Crewe line at Frodsham Junction.

Vital upgrades to track and signalling on the curve will enable a new hourly service in both directions between Liverpool and Chester serving Liverpool Lime Street, Liverpool South Parkway (for Liverpool John Lennon Airport) Runcorn, Frodsham and Helsby.

The services will start running from December 2018 and will generate 250,000 new trips boosting the economy by £100m.

It is expected that demand for the service would strengthen the case for increased timetables especially with plans to extend services to North Wales.

The upgrade forms part of Network Rail’s Great North Rail Project which will see over £1bn invested in the railway across the north, as part of the national Railway Upgrade Plan.

Mayor of the Liverpool City Region Steve Rotheram said: “I welcome the spade being put in the ground on a project that has long been an ambition for many.

"People shouldn’t be constrained in their work or leisure opportunities, as there are so many to be had across our City Region, Cheshire and North Wales.

"These can start to be fully realised through this much needed link.

“This isn’t a project in isolation but part of the overarching vision for connectivity within the Liverpool City Region and the wider North to join up north-south HS2 rail infrastructure with west-east Northern Powerhouse Rail to Liverpool.”

Chairman of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Transport Committee Cllr Liam Robinson said: “The Halton Curve may only be one and a half miles long but it is the key to unlocking so many more opportunities for people in our City Region, Cheshire and North Wales.

“This is part of a £340m investment in the City Region’s rail network by the end of 2019 that will improve connections and the capacity – investment that only marks the start of our ambitions.”

Halton Curve is part of a £340m railway investment programme by Network Rail and Liverpool City Region from now until 2019.