Liverpool Lime Street railway station

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Liverpool Lime Street National Rail
Lime Street Station Liverpool (6730056063).jpg
The frontage at Liverpool Lime Street
Place Liverpool
Local authority City of Liverpool
Coordinates Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Grid reference SJ351905
Station code LIV
Managed by Network Rail (mainline)
Merseyrail (underground)
Number of platforms 9 + 1 underground
DfT category A (mainline)
D (underground)
Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections
from National Rail Enquiries
Annual rail passenger usage*
2004/05 Increase 13.535 million
2005/06 Increase 14.472 million
2006/07 Decrease 6.377 million
2007/08 Decrease 4.338 million
2008/09 Increase 10.833 million
2009/10 Increase 10.840 million
2010/11 Increase 11.812 million
2011/12 Increase 13.835 million
- Interchange 0.778 million
2012/13 Decrease 13.166 million
- Interchange Increase 0.813 million
2013/14 Increase 14.237 million
- Interchange Increase 1.001 million
2014/15 Increase 14.871 million
- Interchange Increase 1.237 million
Passenger Transport Executive
PTE Merseytravel
Zone C1
Original company Liverpool and Manchester Railway
Pre-grouping London and North Western Railway
Post-grouping London, Midland and Scottish Railway
15 August 1836 Opened
1977 Underground station opened
National RailUK railway stations


* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Liverpool Lime Street from Office of Rail and Road statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.
UK Railways portal
Merseyrail Map.svg

Liverpool Lime Street is a terminus railway station, and the main station serving the city centre of Liverpool. A large building resembling a Château fronts the station. A branch of the West Coast Main Line from London Euston terminates at the station, as well as TransPennine Express trains and other train services. The underground Lime Street Wirral Line station of the Merseyrail network is accessed via the main terminus. Lime Street is the largest and oldest railway station in Liverpool, and is one of 19 stations managed by Network Rail.[1]


The original terminus of the 1830 Liverpool and Manchester Railway (L&MR) was located at Crown Street, in Edge Hill, to the east and outside the city centre. Construction of a purpose-built station at Lime Street in the city centre began in October 1833, the land being purchased from Liverpool Corporation for £9,000. A tunnel was constructed between Edge Hill and the new station prior to station construction in 1832. The architecture was designed by Cunningham and Holme,[2] and the station was opened to the public in August 1836, although construction was not completed until the following year. Because of the steep incline between Lime Street and Edge Hill, trains were stopped at Edge Hill, their locomotives removed, and the passenger carriages taken down by gravity, with the descent controlled by brakemen. The return journey was achieved by using a stationary engine to haul the carriages up to Edge Hill by rope.

Within six years, the rapid growth of the railways entailed expansion of the original station. A plan was made to erect an iron roof similar to that found at Euston station in London, ridge roofs supported by iron columns; however, Richard Turner and William Fairburn submitted a design for a single curved roof, which won the approval of the station committee. The work cost £15,000, and was completed in 1849.

In 1867 further expansion was needed and included the present northern arched train shed. With a span of 200 feet (61 m), it was the largest in the world at the time. It was also the first train shed in which iron was used throughout. A second parallel southern train shed was completed in 1879 being notable in being of dry construction with each bay taking only three days to construct.[3]

The station is fronted by a large building in the style of a French château, the former North Western Hotel. Designed by Alfred Waterhouse, the building was built in 1879 at the same time as the second train shed and is now accommodation for students of Liverpool John Moores University.

An office tower block named Concourse House and a row of small shops used to stand outside the southern train shed, obscuring the arches. These dated from the 1960s, and by the 2000s had become run down.[4] They were demolished as part of a comprehensive refurbishment completed in 2010.

In 1845 the L&MR was absorbed by its principal business partner, the Grand Junction Railway (GJR); the following year the GJR became part of the London and North Western Railway. At 'the grouping' in 1923, the station passed to the ownership of the London, Midland and Scottish (LMS) railway, and in 1948, the London Midland Region of British Railways. The station was one of the first to send mail by train.

Lime Street station was part of the first stage of electrification of the West Coast Main Line in 1959. In 1966, the station saw the launch of the first InterCity service.

With the creation of Merseyrail urban rail network in the 1970s, four terminus stations were demolished in Liverpool and Birkenhead centres, leaving only Lime Street terminus as a central point to serve the whole region for medium- and long-haul routes. The Merseyrail network gave ease of access for the whole Merseyside region to the one remaining large terminus.

Lime Street was voted Station of the Year 2010 at the National Rail Awards.[5]

Station layout

Liverpool Lime Street is divided into two sections: the mainline station, which offers national inter-city and regional overground services including local City Line routes, and services on the Wirral Line of the Merseyrail network, located underground between the mainline station and St George's Hall.

Mainline Station

The station is uniquely fronted by a building resembling a château

The mainline station is still covered by the vast iron and glass roofs dating from the 1880s. Platforms 1 to 6 are shorter than 7 to 9, the latter dealing mainly with long-distance services to London, Birmingham, Leeds, Sheffield and Norwich. Access to platforms 1–6 is through a ticket inspection barrier, while platforms 7 is now gated with the creation of new shops and facilities. Platforms 8 and 9 are still "open". Toilets, booking offices, shops, a left-luggage office, taxi ranks and coffee bars are amongst the facilities provided.

Statues of Ken Dodd and Bessie Braddock

The main concourse features a pair of statues of Ken Dodd and Bessie Braddock, a work entitled "Chance Meeting" by sculptor Tom Murphy, unveiled by Ken Dodd in June 2009.[6]

In 2009, new buildings were erected in the old "cab road" area between platforms 7 and 8. These currently house customer lounges, the Virgin Trains customer service point, and an ATM, and there are retail units which have coffee shops amongst the units.

The main concourse of Lime Street station
Main drop off point at the station
Liverpool Lime Street Approach

In line with Liverpool's role as European Capital of Culture in 2008, and the city's 800th anniversary in 2007, the station and its immediate surroundings received a £35 million redevelopment grant. The Lime Street Gateway Project saw the retail parade and office block in front of the station demolished, and an improved frontage and public plaza built. The development was overseen by English Partnerships and was completed in October 2010.[7]

As a rule of thumb, during the day:

  • Platform 1 for Northern Rail services to Manchester Airport and Wigan North Western
  • Platform 2 for Northern Rail services to Manchester Victoria
  • Platform 3 for Northern Rail services to Liverpool South Parkway
  • Platform 4 for Northern Rail services to Preston and Warington Bank Quay
  • Platforms 5 and 6 for East Midlands Trains services to Sheffield, Nottingham and Norwich, for the local stopper Northern Rail service to Manchester Oxford Road and for First TransPennine Express fast services to Newcastle via Manchester Victoria
  • Platform 7 for Virgin Trains services to London Euston
  • Platform 8 for London Midland services to Birmingham New Street
  • Platform 9 for First TransPennine Express fast services to Manchester, Leeds, York and Scarborough and for Northern Rail semi-fast services to Manchester Oxford Road

Platforms are subject to change and diversions to a different platform are common, particularly when services arrive late or early.

July 2013 – Liverpool Lime Station platforms 1–5 are being fully refurbished by Network Rail. Platform 6 will be eventually straightened (as it is curved at present) as part of the station resignalling scheme due for completion in 2016.

The old platform 6A which is located next to platform 7 and is only used as a siding will become the new platform 7 as part of this scheme. Existing platforms 7/8/9 will become new platforms 8/9/10, this will allow new long distance services to start and terminate at Lime Street to Scotland and London starting in 2017 from the new platform 8 & 9 (Virgin Trains).[8]

Underground Station

The refurbished Wirral Line platform, at Lime Street underground station in 2015, with a Merseyrail Class 507 service

The underground station consists of a single platform, alongside the Liverpool Loop tunnel, a single track tunnel bored in the 1970s, and a ticket hall above. The station is connected to the mainline station by means of a pedestrian subway and escalators, accessed via a long passageway which crosses beneath Lime Street itself, and by a lift from the main concourse.

As part of a programme of improvements by Merseytravel, the underground station has been fitted with automatic ticket barriers and machines.

A new M to Go shop was opened in late 2011.

2013 Refurbishment

It was announced in early 2013 that Lime Street was to be the third station to be refurbished as part of the £40 million investment from Network Rail which would see all Merseyrail Underground Stations excluding Conway Park refurbished. This included the refurbishment of the platform and the booking hall. The station closed for refurbishment work in on 21 April 2013, and reopened on 22 August 2013.[9]

Subway Refurbishment

In April 2014, it was announced that the subway linking the Underground Station to the mainline station was to be refurbished. Work was completed two months later. The subway now has new tiles, lighting and flooring as well as automatic doors to some of the entrances.[10]

Recent History

The Underground station is due to have WiFi installed in late 2015.[11]


The main station is currently served by five train operating companies serving a wide variety of destinations, but the service has been much reduced in recent times. For example, it is no longer possible to travel directly to Edinburgh, Plymouth, Southampton and Cardiff without changing trains. Services out of Lime Street (as of May 2014) are as follows:

An East Midlands Trains Class 158 at Platform 6

East Midlands Trains
East Midlands Trains operate an hourly service to Norwich via Warrington Central, Manchester Piccadilly, Stockport, Sheffield and Nottingham. Late afternoon and evening services terminate or start at Nottingham.

First TransPennine Express
TransPennine Express operates an hourly service to Newcastle Central via Manchester Victoria, Leeds and York as well as an hourly service to Scarborough via Warrington Central, Manchester Piccadilly, Leeds and York. Late services start or terminate at York and Manchester Piccadilly.

A London Midland Class 350 at Platform 8

London Midland
London Midland operate a half hourly service to Birmingham New Street via Runcorn, Crewe, Stafford and Wolverhampton. Late services also terminate/start at Crewe or Stafford. Limited service to/from London on weekdays calling at Liverpool South Parkway, Runcorn, Crewe, Kidsgrove, Stoke-on-Trent, Stone, Stafford, Rugeley Trent Valley, Lichfield Trent Valley, Tamworth, Atherstone, Nuneaton, Rugby and Northampton. A number of services are extended beyond Birmingham New Street to start or terminate at Walsall or Birmingham International.

A Class 319 at Platform 2. The new electric services to Manchester Victoria and Wigan North Western were both officially timetabled from 17 May 2015,[12] under Northern Rail's branding of Northern Electrics.

Northern Rail
Northern Rail is the main train operating company at Lime Street, and runs the ticket office. Services include:

A Virgin Trains Class 390 at Platform 7

Virgin Trains
Virgin Trains operate an hourly Pendolino service to London Euston calling at Runcorn, Crewe and Stafford (peak services call at Runcorn, Crewe, Stafford, Lichfield Trent Valley, Tamworth, Nuneaton, Rugby, Milton Keynes Central and Watford Junction).

The underground station is situated on the Wirral Line of the Merseyrail network. Services operate on a 5-minute frequency Monday-Saturday, and between 5- and 10-minute frequency on Sundays in the winter. All trains travel through to Liverpool Central and Birkenhead of which:

  • 4 trains per hour continue to New Brighton
  • 4 trains per hour continue to West Kirby
  • 4 trains per hour continue to Chester
  • 2 trains per hour continue to Ellesmere Port

To reach destinations on the Northern Line of the network, passengers must either use the Wirral Line and change at Liverpool Central station or walk the short distance to the station.

Preceding station National Rail National Rail Following station
Terminus   East Midlands Trains
Liverpool – Norwich
  Liverpool South Parkway
Terminus   First TransPennine Express
Liverpool – Newcastle
  Manchester Victoria
Terminus   First TransPennine Express
Liverpool – Scarborough
  Liverpool South Parkway
Terminus   London Midland
Liverpool – Birmingham
  Liverpool South Parkway
Terminus   Northern Electrics
Liverpool – Wigan
  Edge Hill
  Northern Electrics
Liverpool to Manchester Line
Terminus   Northern Electrics
Liverpool-Manchester Airport
Technology Park
Huyton   Northern Electrics
South Parkway-Lime Street-Preston
  Liverpool South Parkway
Terminus   Virgin Trains
WCML Liverpool Branch
Moorfields   Merseyrail
Wirral Line
City Loop
  Liverpool Central
  Future services  
Terminus   High Speed 3   Manchester Victoria

Proposed services

Renaissance Trains have proposed a twice-daily service from Lime Street to Glasgow Central, with weekend trains running instead from Blackpool to Glasgow. As of 2009, the company is attempting to negotiate train paths with Network Rail.[13]

Proposals to upgrade the Halton Curve have been considered by, among others, Merseytravel and the North Cheshire Rail User's Group.[14] This would provide a second rail route between Liverpool and Wrexham, this one running via Chester (Providing express Liverpool to Chester services), and would permit the introduction of new direct services from Liverpool to Llandudno and other parts of North Wales. In 2014, George Osborne announced that £10.4m of funding had been found for the Curve to reopen. In May 2015, Merseytravel published the business case for the reopening of the curve and forecast one train per hour running along the curve from Liverpool Lime Street, initially to Chester but with the potential for running to Wrexham. This would give residents in Chester/Wrexham a direct train to Liverpool Airport and the service could be running by 2018.[15][16]

Electrification of the former Liverpool and Manchester Railway's route, and the line to Wigan via St Helens Central, by December 2014, as well as the completion of electrification of the Huddersfield Line beyond Manchester, in 2016, will lead to a major recast of timetables. The current First TransPennine Express service to Scarborough will be re-routed via Earlestown and Manchester Victoria and diverted to Newcastle Central along the ECML. Another possibility could be the return of direct services to Edinburgh & Glasgow over the WCML by splitting from and joining to the existing services from Manchester to Scotland at Preston (these have now been included in the new TPE franchise agreement as noted below). There were also question marks as to whether suitable electric rolling stock will be available in time for the completion of the work,[17] however, it was confirmed in April 2014 that electric trains will be available to operate the new electric services with the first trains being introduced from December 2014 and more entering service during 2015.[18][19]

It is also proposed by 2016 that London Midland will also operate an hourly service to London Euston (as an extension of its existing Trent Valley semi-fast service).

Network Rail has confirmed that Liverpool Lime Street will be completely overhauled in 2016. The station will be closed for 8 weeks in the summer to re-signal the station and the approach. Four new HST platforms will be introduced from 6A onwards heading towards Skelhorne Street, Virgin Trains buildings moved to Skelhorne Street car park, new lighting, first floor new concourse for new retail units and a full row of new ticket barriers.[20]

As part of the new Northern & TransPennine Express franchise agreements (awarded to Arriva Rail North and First Group respectively and due to start in April 2016), there will be a number of new services operating from the station in December 2017 - a new "Northern Connect" service to Leeds via Manchester Victoria and Bradford Interchange (replacing the current all-stations local service to Victoria) and three new direct services per day to Glasgow Central via Preston.[21][22] The current TPE Newcastle route will also be extended via Morpeth to Edinburgh Waverley.

Withdrawn services

Certain direct trains to and from Liverpool Lime Street station have been withdrawn since 2000. These include the following services:

In addition, former British Rail services to Scotland, Wrexham and other parts of North Wales, Bradford Interchange, Harwich and Leicester no longer operate.


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  21. Northern Franchise Improvements - DfT
  22. TransPennine Franchise Improvements - Liverpool

External links