A NUMBER of platform upgrades will take place later this year to prepare the Merseyrail network for the arrival of new state-of-the-art trains.

The 11-phase programme of upgrades will take place between 20 October 2018 and 16 June 2019.

Delivered by Network Rail, the vital works will include upgrading existing platforms and realigning track to make sure they are compatible with new Stadler trains.

This will also mean that wheelchair users can board trains without a ramp.

Only short sections of track will be closed at any one time, with all stations on that section closed and closures will be between nine and 30 days at a time.

Managing director at Merseyrail Andy Heath said: “These works are vital to prepare our network for the arrival of the new state-of-the-art trains in 2020 and in particular the sliding step that will allow unassisted access for all our passengers.

"A lot of work has gone in to minimising disruption as much as possible while this work takes place and both high quality rail replacement buses and our staff will be available to help keep everyone moving.”

The trains are part of a £460 million investment and will replace the near 40-year-old fleet that currently runs on the Merseyrail network.

Marcus Barnes, senior sponsor for Network Rail said: “We’re delivering vital upgrades to 100 platforms and realigning track at 58 stations across the Merseyrail network to make sure they’re ready for new trains in 2020.

“This investment is part of a huge package of works across the Liverpool City Region and sits within our Great North Rail Project.

“Adjusting the height, width and layout of the platforms is more complex than it may sound and we’ll need to close sections of the line to complete these vital works safely.

“Many of these upgrades may not be obvious to passengers, but are key to enable improved access onto new Merseyrail trains using the new sliding step technology.”

Rail replacement buses will be in place during these closures.

Merseytravel’s Head of Rail Wayne Menzies said: “We’ve got to complete these works.

"It’s really important that passengers know what’s happening so they can plan ahead and if we work together we can keep everyone moving and the city region will remain open for business.

“The new trains will transform how we travel and this project is about making this happen so although there will be some disruption it will be worth it in the end.”

The following advice has been issued:

• You can still get to where you need to go

• Check before you travel. Closures are taking place at different locations at different times on the network so it’s important to keep checking what’s happening and when. Some timetables may change.

• Plan ahead – use journey planners and National Rail enquiries

• Leave more time for your journey. Timetables may change and your journey may be longer.

• Consider avoiding travelling at peak times where possible.

• Consider your options –including commercial buses and the Mersey Ferries.

For more information visit www.merseyrail.org/itshappening