There are many tens of thousands of people living along the Liverpool Outer Loop Line. These would be, almost exclusively, new customers for Merseyrail, bringing an enormous amount of new income to the network. The Liverpool Outer Loop Line would connect anyone who lives near it easily and conveniently with everywhere on the Merseyrail (Liverpool Underground) network. For example, a young, none car owning person could easily and conveniently commute from Norris Green to anywhere within Greater Liverpool for work, similar to what someone from West Kirby or Formby can do currently. This would open up greatly increased work opportunites for such a person, just like it does for their West Kirby and Formby equivalents.
The initial incarnation of the Liverpool Outer Loop Line should connect Hunts Cross station to Rice Lane station 8 miles away and include 6 stations to complete the already two thirds complete Circle Line. The journey time from Norris Green station to Central station would be 15 minutes based on the next station along, Rice Lane’s journey time to Central station currently being 12 minutes. The Norris Green resident would also benefit from interchanges at: Rice Lane station for Kirkby and Skelmersdale; Kirkdale station for the Ormskirk Line; Sandhills station for the Southport Line; Central/Moorfields stations for the Wirral Line; Broad Green station for Lime Street and St Helens; Hunts Cross station for Warrington; Liverpool South Parkway for Chester and LJLA.
The longest journey to Central station going north would be from Knotty Ash (Alder Hey) station and would likely take 21 minutes and the longest journey to Central station going south would be from Childwall station and would likely take 23 minutes, based on the current average time per stop from both Hunts Cross station and Rice Lane station being 3 minutes, towards Central station. Customers could also interchange at Broad Green if they preferred. I would suggest that the realistic walking catchment area for each station would be a half mile radius from the station, i.e. a MAXIMUM 10 minute walk, although many commuters would probably be dropped off at their nearest station to commute to work. The Norris Green area alone is densely populated, for example, and many tens of thousands of people live within a 10 minute walk of the Liverpool Outer Loop Line, along its length. The benefits of the Circle Line would also go far beyond only accessing the city centre, including: Broad Green station is less than 10 minutes walk from Broadgreen Hospital; Knotty Ash station would be next door to Alder Hey Hospital and may be better named Alder Hey station; Norris Green station would be 20 minutes walk from LFC via 96 Avenue; Kirkdale station is 15 minutes walk from EFC; Vauxhall station would be less than 10 minutes walk from EFC's potentially transformational new multi-purpose stadium and all of the many facilities that would be likely to develop around that area; etc.
The estimated cost would be:
1. To provide a 20 minute frequency service around the Circle Line would require 4 trains at £9m per train = £36m. The frequency could be increased on match/event days.
2. Given that most of the expensive infrastructure is already in place, using an estimate of £15m per mile for the build gives 8 miles at £15m per mile = £120m.
3. An estimate at this stage would therefore be £150m, including trains. This initial estimate is probably more accurate than the initial estimates for both the Edinburgh tram scheme and the London Olympics.
If one mile was built every five years then the Circle Line would be fully complete in 40 years time or, to put it another way, if this approach had been chosen in the 1970s/1980s the full Circle Line project would be completing soon.
Broadway, for example, adjacent to the Liverpool Outer Loop Line in Norris Green, is a densely populated area and has always been a social and economic hub attracting people from miles around. A station placed around there would have a large population within a half mile radius i.e. a MAXIMUM 10 minute walk, so it would be expected that Norris Green station would be very popular and successful on that basis alone, and it would only be a 15 minute journey to Central station based on current average timings. However, Norris Green station would also be close to the start of 96 Avenue and would be LFC’s main station, particularly if it was aggressively marketed as such. On this basis it would probably be most beneficial to start with the Rice Lane station to Norris Green station part of the Circle Line completion project first.
The Circle Line, from Rice Lane station to Rice Lane station via part of the Liverpool Outer Loop Line, Hunts Cross station and the city centre, would be 19 miles long. This means that a full loop of the Circle Line, using the new, recently ordered trains, would take 39 minutes and the longest journey time to Central station on it would therefore be less than 20 minutes. These are very acceptable journey times.
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