posted on 5th Oct 2023 20:11
On 5 October 2023 the UK’s first battery powered trains made their maiden trip from the new station at Headbolt Lane in Kirkby. As part of an historic day, which saw the new Class 777 trains carry passengers to and from the new station, the Mayor was joined by passengers, residents and rail enthusiasts alike in his hometown to celebrate the start of services.
The new station is being served by the BEMUs, which have enabled the first expansion of the Merseyrail network in 29 years. This is the first passenger rail service in the UK to be operated using battery-technology and opens up the opportunity of future expansion of the network beyond the city region. Typical practical battery range is up to 30 miles (around 48 km).
Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region said: “As a Kirkby native, I know how long local people have been talking about a station at Headbolt Lane. Thanks to devolution and the power it gives us to shape our own destiny, we’ve turned that talk into reality. We’ve invested £80m in this fully accessible, state of the art train station, served by our new publicly owned, battery powered trains. They are the first of their kind in the country and will help us to significantly reduce our carbon footprint, paving the way for a cleaner, greener integrated London-style transport network. Headbolt Lane station sets a new standard for public transport in this country – and it’s the very least that our residents deserve. We’re incredibly grateful to local people and passengers on the Kirkby line for their patience and understanding throughout this project – I hope they’ll agree with me that it’s been worth the wait!”
The battery-train technology is initially being fitted on seven of the Class 777. In a phased roll-out to ease in the new technology, the station will initially be served by one Merseyrail service per-hour to Liverpool Central, then services will gradually increase to four trains per hour. Network Rail and its delivery partners will be working to complete some outstanding works including the car park, caused by issues with Buckingham Group. The station will therefore open with limited spaces before reaching full capacity in the coming weeks.
Headbolt Lane will be the second new station opened by the Mayor since his election, and the first delivered under Merseyrail for All, a commitment to expanding the local rail network across the city region.
The battery technology removes the need for a live third rail, which could enable the Merseyrail network to run to places previously inaccessible, including as far as Manchester, Wrexham, Warrington, Preston and Runcorn. Over 20,000 people in the Northwood and Shevington areas of Kirkby are set to benefit from having the new rail service on their doorstep - particularly important as 60% of households do not own a car in these areas.
With a bus interchange providing services to Skelmersdale, cycle parking and links to active travel networks, the fully accessible station will provide smoother connections to public transport services, encouraging greater use.