THE first of four Merseyrail culture trains' has taken to the tracks, as part of Merseytravel's 08 sponsorship package.

The first train emblazoned in the 08 livery departed from Rock Ferry station last week - showcasing the Creative' element of the Look of the City branding.

The branding - or train wrap' - has been specially commissioned through the Culture Company and designed by Liverpool agency Finch, to reflect aspects of the city's creative life.

Three more trains with heritage, maritime and sport themes will take to the tracks over the next few weeks.

Merseytravel is an official partner of European Capital of Culture.

Councillor Chris Blakeley, chair of Merseytravel's rail committee, said: "These trains will be striking and are a fantastic way to get people talking about Capital of Culture.

"We've got such a diverse transport network and we will use it to its fullest to celebrate all that's good about the whole of Merseyside."

Neil Scales, Merseytravel's Chief Executive and Director General, said: "The Merseyrail network carries some 34 million passengers every year. We expect that to be even higher this year.

"Transport will play a vital part in the celebrations and these trains give us a great opportunity to showcase all that is good about Liverpool during 2008. This is one of a number of plans we have to promote the celebrations."

Councillor Warren Bradley, deputy chairman of Liverpool Culture Company, said: "It's really important to communicate to people visiting and travelling in Liverpool that the city is undergoing a renaissance.

"The city is in transition and it is vital we show Liverpool in the best possible light.'"

Kris Donaldson, director of Liverpool Culture Company, said: "We want to create a sense of theatre in the city for visitors and local residents alike."