HALTON Council today warmly welcomed the Government’s £10.4 million funding to reinstate the Halton Curve rail link. It is currently a single line of track between Frodsham and Runcorn, signalled for northbound trains only.

While the Curve has been used for summer Saturday services between North Wales and Liverpool, a regular passenger service has not operated on the line since the mid-1970s.

Halton Council leader Clr Rob Polhill said: "The reinstatement of the Halton Curve to bi-directional working has been a long standing aspiration of Halton Council and it has featured in the Local Transport Plans for Halton, Cheshire and Merseyside for over a decade.

"It is a key rail scheme that has the support of the both the Liverpool City Region and Cheshire Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) as well as the Welsh Assembly Government.

“The Halton Curve is identified in the Liverpool City Region Strategic Economic Plan as an enabler of change and the Chancellor has now given a vote of confidence in our ability to deliver another major transport scheme that can bring about change, create jobs and promote economic growth in a more sustainable way.

"The support of the two LEPs in helping us to achieve our aim demonstrates how the public and private sector can work together in a truly effective way."

It links the Chester to Manchester rail line to the west coast main line and when fully reopened will allow both passengers and freight to move between Liverpool, Chester and North Wales via Runcorn, Frodsham and Helsby.

Halton Council has for many years supported the efforts of Merseytravel, as promoter of the scheme, and MPs Derek Twigg and Graham Evans, in convincing Government that there are economic and environmental benefits to be achieved for the travelling public and for the freight industry in reinstating this relatively short length of track to two-way working.

Halton Clr Tom McInerney, board member for transportation, said: "We and our partners have worked hard to put together a case to attract funding for this important missing link in our rail network.

“This commitment to fund the Halton Curve is yet another indication of the growing strength of Halton and the Liverpool City Region in developing its economy and providing opportunities for its communities.

"On the back of the recent approval to fund the Mersey Gateway, the announcement to now commit to fund the Halton Curve reflects the growing confidence Government and investors have in this sub-region."

Julia Tickridge, Labour parliamentary candidate for Weaver Vale, said: “This announcement would not be possible without the hard work of Labour councillors in Halton and the Liverpool City Region."

There is now added impetus to conclude the detailed studies and design work that have to be undertaken and, subject to final approval.

It is hoped that the work to reinstate the Halton Curve will start in 2016.