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RAIL BID FOR 12 STATIONS; Transport plan wins praise for opening lines.

Byline: By NEIL HODGSON Industry Reporter

UP TO 12 railway stations could be built on Merseyside.

Transport authority Merseytravel has identified the sites as part of its local transport plan that runs until 2011 and which has been granted centre of excellence status by the government for its vision of improvements and reopening old lines.

The locations Merseytravel is focusing on are Maghull north, Parliament Street and Vauxhall on the northern line' Carr Mill, Ditton, Greenbank Park and Chapelford (serving the pounds 1bn Omega development in Warrington) on the city line' Runcorn, Skelmersdale, Beechwood, Deeside industrial park and Woodchurch in outlying districts.

Also under consideration is the electrification of lines from Ormskirk to Preston to reestablish the most direct Liverpool- Preston route, and an extension of the northern line from Kirkby to Wigan Wallgate.

Former links could also be reopened between Aintree and Bootle New Strand stations and the Olive Mount chord between the port of Liverpool and the west coast mainline, which would lead to a significant increase in rail freight.

A Merseytravel spokesman said: "These are all part of our ambitious plans to expand the network since we took control from the former Strategic Rail Authority."

However he stressed: "They are all subject to further detailed planning and there is no time scale at the moment. And, naturally we will have to bid for funds for each of them."

Last week Merseytravel chief executive and director general Neil Scales told Wirral councillors that the authority hoped to electrify the diesel line from Bidston to Wrexham, including the Beechwood, Deeside and Woodchurch station plans.

He welcomed the government's centre of excellence ranking for the proposals: "This is a massive vote of confidence by the government in our ability."

Merseytravel chairman Cllr Mark Dowd added: "There is a lot of investment in Liverpool and the surrounding area at the moment and the train network needs to play its part in that."
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jan 25, 2007
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