The Anonymous Widower

Chester To Liverpool Via Runcorn

This new service between Chester and Liverpool Lime Street stations via Runcorn station and the Halton Curve, started a couple of weeks ago.

I took these pictures of the journey.


  1. The service was busy, as everybody seemed to be going to Liverpool to prepare for the evening’s match.
  2. The Class 150 train kept up a good speed, which indicates that Network Rail didn’t cut quality on the link.
  3. Runcorn is about the halfway point of the journey.
  4. The route is electrified between Runcorn and Liverpool Lime Street stations.
  5. The Class 150 train was a bit tired.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a hybrid train working this route.

Operation would be as follows.

  • All these trains work be capable of 100 mph using 25 KVAC overhead electrification between Liverpool Lime Street and Runcorn stations.
  • Power changeover would be at Runcorn station.
  • Between Runcorn to Chester stations is only about fourteen miles.. This will be well within battery range in a few years.

Transport for Wales will be obtaining trains from a crowded market.

More Halton Curve Services

Under Planned Improvements in the Wikipedia entry for Transport for Wales, this is said.

Introduction of a new hourly Liverpool to Llandudno and Shrewsbury service, and a new two-hourly Liverpool to Cardiff Central service from December 2022.

Adding these to the current hourly service, this would mean that two trains per hour (tph) would normally run between Liverpool Lime Street and Chester stations, with three trains in every alternate hour.

I think that, there would be a marketing advantage in running hybrid trains on these routes. Hydrogen would be ideal, as these would not need recharging like battery trains after a long trip.

To go through the single-track Halton Curve appears to take trains about five minutes, so up to eight tph could probably be feasible, which would mean four tph between Liverpool and Chester via Runcorn in both directions.

If Trains for Wales are going to compete with the Merseyrail electric services, they need a four tph frequency in both directions.

Flexible Ticketing

Currently, if you want to buy a ticket between the Chester and Liverpool Lime Street, you have to buy an appropriate ticket for your chosen route.

Surely, tourists and others might like to do the out and back journeys by a different route.

If London Underground and some train companies can share ticketing, then surely Merseyrail and other train companies can do the same.


This new service will be surprisingly well-used and needs an iconic hybrid train.

  • Diesel is not appropriate for the long term, although in Northern Connect Between Chester And Leeds To Start In May, I did report a rumour that Class 769 trains might be running between Chester and Leeds.
  • Hydrogen is non-polluting and has a longer range, that could make services between Liverpool and Holyhead possible.
  • Battery will probably need a charging infrastructure.

My money is on hydrogen power.



June 2, 2019 - Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. I believe the 769s that TfW has ordered are for use on the partly-electrified Valley lines in S Wales. Almost all the Welsh lines outside the SE seem to me much better suited for hydrogen than bimodes, as the amount of electrification is minimal to non-existent. I think this new service is just the precursor to the longer services to NW and S Wales – I don’t think there’s any desire to ‘compete’ with Merseyrail, though it might be good if they ran a joint service on Bidston-Wrexham so Vivarail’s units could recharge whilst running round the Loop – very fitting for 230s to run underground again.

    Class 150s were new when I moved to Chester 30 years ago but are now outdated – maybe Vivarail can do something with them. 🙂 There was a 158, which were refurbished and are less tired looking, when I rode the route 10 days ago.

    Comment by Peter Robins | June 3, 2019 | Reply

  2. The 769s are to be used as a stop-gap by TfW, so they can refurbish there other diesel units. I have a technical brochure of a Class 769 train and they are powerful beasts, designed for Manchester-Buxton, which is one of the stiffest lines in the UK.

    I think because of this power and their good performance, they will be used to prove routes, when their initial purpose is finished.

    As they are 100 mph on electric and four-cars, they could turn up in some strange places.

    Comment by AnonW | June 3, 2019 | Reply

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