The Merseyrail commuter network is a 50:50 joint venture between Serco and Abellio, run as a concession agreement with governing body Merseytravel

Merseyrail route map

The Merseyrail network has 67 stations and 75 miles of route, of which 6.5 miles are underground. Carrying approximately 110,000 passengers each weekday, or 34 million per year, it forms one of the most heavily used railway networks in the UK outside London.

Serco and Abellio took over from Arriva Trains Merseyside in 2003, winning a 25-year contract. The company operates a fleet of 59 trains and employs 1,200 people. The concession is formed of two lines of the National Rail network known as the Northern Line and the Wirral Line which run underground in central Liverpool. These are operated by Merseyrail and are electrified throughout using the third-rail 750 V DC system.

A third line, separate from the electrified network, is known as the City Line, operated primarily by Northern with funding from Merseytravel.

The City Line, shown in red on the Merseyrail map, is a term used by local transport authority Merseytravel to describe the suburban services which depart from Liverpool Lime Street on the Liverpool to Wigan, Liverpool to Manchester Lines and Liverpool to Crewe line.

Services are less frequent than those on the Northern Line and Wirral Line, generally half-hourly on weekdays. The electric trains are branded Northern Electrics on the services using the Class 319s.

Rolling stock 

Brand new, state-of-the-art trains will be running on the Merseyrail network by the end of 2020. The trains, set to be built and maintained by Swiss-based manufacturer, Stadler, will replace the near 40-year-old fleet that currently runs on the network. The trains will be bought and owned by Merseytravel meaning that they can be designed specifically to suit the network.

The state-of-the-art trains will come into service by the end of 2020 and replace the current Merseyrail fleet of 59 Class 507 and 508 three-car 750 V DC third-rail EMUs which date from 1978-80 – the oldest fleet in the UK. They will be safer – most notably in the ease in which everyone can get on and off, and will also make Merseyrail the most accessible traditional network in the country.

They will be able to carry 60 per cent more passengers while retaining the same number of seats: will cut journey times by ten per cent – equivalent of up to nine minutes on some end-to-end routes, and will have the capabilities to eventually run beyond the current Merseyrail boundaries to places like Skelmersdale, Wrexham and Warrington.

The approval of the project, by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, marked the end of an extensive procurement process which formally began in October 2015 when the Merseytravel Committee gave permission for the project to go to tender after approving the business case for new trains.

The Great North Rail Project

The £140 million transformation of Liverpool Lime Street was completed with the full reopening of all ten of the station’s platforms in November 2018.

Liverpool Lime Street’s upgrade was part of the Great North Rail Project – a rail industry team effort to transform train travel for customers across the North through track and train improvements.

Design image provided by Stadler

A design image provided by Stadler
Photo: Metrolink

Managing Director: Andy Heath
Commercial Director: Suzanne Grant
Human Resources Director: Jane English
Safety and Engineering Director: Mike Roe
Operations Director: Zoe Hands
Finance and Transformation Director: Paul Bowen


Address: 9th Floor Rail House, Lord Nelson Street, Liverpool L1 1JF
Phone:  0151 555 1111