The Anonymous Widower

Will Hollywood Celebrity Involvement Be The Catalyst To Spark Development Of the Borderlands Line?

In Wrexham General Station – 4th May 2023, I showed this map, of Wrexham General station and the Racecourse Ground.


  • Wrexham A. F. C. are certainly a club, whose fans won’t need much encouragement to go to matches by train.
  • I also feel that given the celebrity ownership, it will be one of those grounds where away supporters will want go.
  • Its ground and Wrexham General station is well-served by direct trains from Birmingham, Cardiff, Liverpool and London.
  • Interesting matches next year could be against Crewe, Newport and Tranmere.

I’m sure that because of the location of the ground and the celebrity owners, there will be pressure to improve the Borderlands Line to Liverpool.

The Wikipedia entry for the Borderlands Line has a section called Development, where this is said.

The doubling of the journey frequency on the line is one of the aims of the Growth Track 360 group, a consortium of business, politicians and public sector leaders. The group aims to improve transport and create jobs in the North Wales, Merseyside and Cheshire area over the next 20 years. During the 2017 Autumn budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond stated that part of the additional £1.2 billion funding Wales was receiving would be used to look into proposals to improve journey times on the line and developing a business case.

In October 2019, Transport for Wales announced £280,000 have been allocated to revamp stations along the line in north Wales and Merseyside, as part of TfW’s £194 million station improvement programme.

In a section called Proposed New Stations, these improvements have been proposed.

  • Build a new station at Deeside Industrial Park.
  • Build a new station at Woodchurch.
  • Build a new station at Beechwood.
  • Incorporate the line into the Merseyrail Wirral line to provide direct connectivity with Liverpool city centre.
  • Replace the High and Low levels at Shotton station with a dedicated interchange station, improving connectivity between the North Wales Coast Main Line & the Borderlands line.
  • Remove level crossings to improve line speed.

All these proposals seem reasonable.

There is also a section called Proposed Electrification, where this is said.

There have been proposals for the full or partial electrification of the line since 1999 with participation of Merseytravel and the devolved institutions in Wales. Such electrification is usually intertwined with proposals for the full incorporation of the line into the electrified Merseyrail network, allowing for services from either Wrexham Central or partway along the line to travel all the way to Birkenhead and Liverpool Central.

In 2008, a Network Rail study estimated the cost for third-rail electrification of the entire line to be £207 million. To lower costs, Merseytravel suggested overhead-wire electrification as an alternative, bringing estimates down to £66 million. However, this would mean trains running between Wrexham and Liverpool would have to be compatible with both electric systems, therefore incompatible with the third-rail only trains in use at the time.

There is political support to electrify the line from both Welsh and Merseyside authorities, however the responsibility of rail infrastructure lies with the UK Government’s Department for Transport. The Welsh Government aims to increase services between North Wales and Merseyside, in particular Wrexham and Deeside with Liverpool and Liverpool John Lennon Airport. Whereas Merseyside authorities would like to increase services to stations on the line on the Wirral Peninsula in particular, as well as the rest of the line.

In 2016, a working group had been set up to examine improving the line, including proposals to increase the frequency of trains on the line. It is hoped that an increase in the number of passengers would improve the case for electrification.

It seems that various solutions have been proposed.

Consider what will be available to Merseyrail and Transport for Wales within a year or so.

  • Merseyrail will be running a new fleet of electric Class 777 trains.
  • These new trains will be running from Bidston station and under Liverpool City Centre using the Wirral Line.
  • Merseytravel has an option for a further 60 units.
  • Class 777 trains are designed for running with 25 KVAC overhead electrification, should this be required in the future.
  • Merseyrail and Transport for Wales will be working with Stadler on the use of battery-electric trains.
  • Bidston and Wrexham Central are only 27.5 miles apart.
  • The Borderlands Line is not the most challenging of rail lines to improve, as it is fairly straight and level.
  • It is unlikely that Health and Safety would allow any more third rail electrification. But would this ban also apply in Wales?
  • West Kirby trains run for 10.4 miles in 34 minutes to perform their loop under from Bidston under Liverpool City Centre.
  • If Wrexham trains could turn under Liverpool City Centre, this would improve shopping, business and educational opportunities for those living along the Borderlands Line.

This section of the Wikipedia entry for the Borderlands Line says this about the range of the Class 777 trains on battery power.

The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority announced that trials of the seven battery electric multiple unit (BEMU) versions of their new Class 777 had shown that they were capable of travelling up to 20 miles (32 km) without a charge. Further trials by Stadler reached a range of 84 miles (135 km). This would allow the line to be served without the full electrification.

In Battery Answer To Schleswig-Holstein’s Diesel Replacement Question, I talked about how Stadler were using battery-electric trains to replace diesels in Schleswig-Holstein.

It seems obvious to me, that Stadler would have experience of a suitable battery-electric train and charging system, that could be applied to the Borderlands Line.

  • I would suspect that the 34 minutes that the train would take to go from Bidston to Liverpool and back to Bidston would be more than adequate to fully charge the batteries on a train.
  • This would be enough to get a full train to Wrexham, even when Liverpool or Everton were playing an FA Cup match against Wrexham A. F. C.

But how would trains recharge at Wrexham? This map from OpenRailwayMap shows the track layout at Wrexham.


  1. Wrexham Central station is in the South-East corner of the map.
  2. Wrexham General station is towards the top of the map marked by blue letters.
  3. A single track connects Platform 4 at Wrexham General station to the single platform at Wrexham Central station.

It looks like space could be a bit limited at Wrexham Central station, so would it be an idea to electrify between the two stations?

A train takes typically about seven minutes from arrival at Wrexham General station from Bidston until it leaves the station to return to Bidston.

  • This should be enough to charge the train fully.
  • Theoretically, it would allow Wrexham to have a four trains per hour (tph) service to Liverpool.
  • Electrifying between the two stations would be about 0.6 miles of single-track electrification.
  • Connection and disconnection to the electrification would be in Wrexham General station.
  • The electrification would only be switched on, when there is a train using it. This could be arranged using simple automation or by employing another signaller.

I do wonder if Welsh Health and Safety would allow third-rail electrification? If it’s a UK matter, then give it to the Welsh Government. But it would be the only third-rail electrification in the Principality.


I believe that if the Welsh Government would allow third-rail electrification, the service could start as soon as Merseyrail has enough battery trains.


May 6, 2023 - Posted by | Sport, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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