City Line (Merseyrail) - History

History

The City Line can trace its origins back to the dawn of the railway era, as it incorporates most of the route of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, opened in 1830 having Broad Green Station the oldest operating station in the world. Other early railway companies whose lines are now part of the City Line include the Cheshire Lines Committee and the London & North Western Railway.

These disparate local railway services were not marketed under a common name until 1972, when Merseyside PTE introduced the Merseyrail brand for services which were operated by British Rail on its behalf. The PTE applied the City Line name to local services out of Liverpool's main station at Lime Street.

Around this time, ambitious plans were floated to electrify parts of the City Line and incorporate it into the Northern Line, via the Wapping Tunnel from Edge Hill to Liverpool Central. However, after work started, they were abandoned.

In the 1990s, as part of the Government's rail privatisation, the City Line services became part of the North Western Trains franchise (later taken over by First Group and renamed First North Western). Merseytravel continue to use the City Line name and stations retain the Merseyrail branding and familiar M logo.

In 2004, the First North Western franchise was merged with that of neighbouring train company Arriva Trains Northern to create a new franchise covering the north of England. The new franchise was won by Northern Rail, owned by the Serco-NedRailways consortium (who, coincidentally, had been named as the operators of the Merseyrail Electrics franchise a year earlier).

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