MERSEYRAIL Northern Line passengers will be able to use Liverpool Central station for the first time in six months when a £20m refurbishment project is completed on Monday.
The station was closed to all rail services on April 25 to allow a comprehensive overhaul of the concourse and both Wirral and Northern Line platforms.
Although the station re-opened to Wirral Line passengers on August 25 when work on the platform was completed, Northern Line passengers – who account for 70% of those using the station – have had to wait until October 22.
The Northern line platform, like its Wirral counterpart, has been tiled throughout and the ceiling replaced.
A number of machinery rooms have been removed to create more space on the platform, and all four Northern line escalators have been renewed.
Of the £20m dedicated to the work at Liverpool Central, more than £14m came from Network Rail.
Merseytravel, with support from the European Regional Development Fund, provided almost £6m.
Karen Hornby, area manager for Network Rail, said: “I am really pleased that the project has been delivered on time and within budget. It has been technically challenging at times, with much of the work going on behind the scenes.”
Merseytravel chairman, Cllr Liam Robinson, said: “We are looking forward to welcoming Northern Line passengers back to Central station. Hopefully, they will be as impressed as Wirral Line passengers have been.
“Liverpool Central is now a fantastic station which is fit for the 21st century. It will encourage more people back into the city centre and give the local economy a really good boost.”
The station concourse now has natural light and separate, staggered entrance and exit barriers to avoid congestion. There are also new seating areas.
Merseyrail managing director, Maarten Spaargaren, said: “Our passengers have been patient and understanding over the Northern Line closure, and we are very grateful to them for that.
“However, we believe that they will recognise that it’s been worth the wait, and will enjoy travelling in a more comfortable, attractive environment.”
Throughout the station closure, Merseyrail worked with Liverpool’s City Central Business Improvement District (BID) to help retailers with a raft of promotional offers and activities.
BID chief executive Ged Gibbons said: “We were determined to help traders around Central station over the closure period in what was already a tough economic environment.
“The re-opening of Central station is something everyone has looked forward to since the day it closed, and from a footfall point of view, I’m sure many of our retailers will feel Christmas has come early.’’
The rail replacement bus service introduced when Liverpool Central first closed to link city-centre stations will stop running from October 22.
Liverpool Central station has by far the highest footfall on the Merseyrail network, with 18m passengers per year. This figure is likely to increase 40% by 2020.
Liverpool Central was the first of five underground stations on the Merseyrail network to be improved in a £40m programme.
The other stations are James Street, Lime Street (low level only), Moorfields and Hamilton Square.