FUNDING opportunities are being considered to restore an express bus service between Runcorn and Liverpool.

The express bus, known as the X1, was dropped by a private operator in 2022.

Liverpool metro mayor Steve Rotheram responded to a letter from Mike Amesbury, written before the General Election was called when he was still MP for the now defunct Weaver Vale constituency.

The mayor, who leads Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, said its involvement in Halton’s transport was ‘somewhat limited’ because Halton Borough Council had opted not to pay into the transport levy.

But he stressed: “I am committed to working with Halton Borough Council to find a solution to the transport issues in the borough.”

Over the longer term, the mayor aims to create an integrated bus network encompassing the whole region but acknowledges this ‘will not happen overnight’.

He continued: “In the meantime, I understand the current transport options between Runcorn and Liverpool fall short of residents' needs.

“The combined authority is actively exploring ways to improve these links, including considering funding opportunities that would allow the return of an express link similar to what the X1 provided.

“Recognising the ongoing impact on Halton residents, I am pressing officers to carry out this work at pace.”

Last year, a 1,500-name petition was delivered to Mayor Rotheram calling for the X1 to be reinstated.

Welcoming the mayor’s response, Mr Amesbury said: “Steve shares my frustrations and has acknowledged the continuing impact on residents, visitors, and businesses as well as on our region's economy.

“It is very encouraging to read funding opportunities are being explored ‘at pace’ that would allow an express bus link to be provided.

“I thank Steve for his efforts to try and come up with a solution for local people and communities.”