Network Rail will carry out essential renewal work on the city centre underground sections of the Wirral line over the course of the first six months of 2017.
The video shows the replacement of the concrete slab track on the Merseyrail Network. The work is carried out in narrow single bore tunnels that are more than 40 metres underground and measure 4.7 metres in width and 4.1 metres in height.
The track in the underground ‘loop’, which forms the one-way section of the Wirral line under Liverpool city centre, was built in the 1970s and opened in 1977.
Despite being well maintained during its 40-year lifetime, the concrete supporting the track in the single bore tunnels needs to be replaced.
In an effort to keep disruption to a minimum, Network Rail will replace the track under the riverbed between James Street and Hamilton Square at the same time.
From Tuesday 3rd January 2017 till Sunday 12th February 2017, the track from Birkenhead Central and Birkenhead North to Liverpool will be shut completely while the line beneath the River Mersey is replaced.
A replacement bus service between Wirral and Liverpool through the Mersey Tunnels, and the Mersey Ferries will run as the work is undertaken.
The second phase of the work from Monday 13th February 2017 till Monday 29th May 2017, will see Wirral line trains will run as far as James Street on weekdays. At the weekends, trains will run only as far as Birkenhead North and Birkenhead Central, as in phase 1.
Phase 3 will take place between Tuesday 30th May 2017 till Sunday 18th June 2017 and will again mean no Wirral line trains beyond Birkenhead Central and Birkenhead North towards Liverpool.
Merseyrail said that while they recognised that there no good time to carry out disruptive repair work, these dates were chosen because rail use is higher in the summer than in winter and swill hopefully affect the least number of journeys as possible.
Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, Merseyrail’s Managing Director, commented: ‘The work that Network Rail will undertake next year is essential for maintaining the safe and reliable operation of the infrastructure built in the 1970s, however we do not under-estimate the inconvenience this will cause to our Wirral line passengers in the short term. This renewal work forms part of a much bigger programme of investment in the rail system across the region throughout 2017 and 2018.
“During the next few months, we will work with Merseytravel to finalise the alternative travel arrangements, including the extensive rail replacement bus service that will be required when the river bed tunnel is closed.”
It is hoped that by undertaken this replacement work, the concrete slabs will not need to be replaced for another 60 years.
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