The Halton Curve line re-opens today.
Services between Chester and Lime St will run seven days a week (the first on Sunday 19 May), with services between Wrexham and Liverpool currently running Monday to Saturday, with two trains a day towards Liverpool and one towards Wrexham. .
Future plans will see more journeys into Wales, with some services running to Cardiff via Shrewsbury and to Llandudno.
The new service will generate 250,000 new trips, unlocking leisure and business opportunities between the Liverpool City Region, Cheshire and North Wales. As journeys between the Liverpool City Region, West Cheshire and North Wales are currently largely car dependent, it's expected that the new service would remove the need for 170,000 road journeys helping reduce demand on key routes such as the M56 and A55.
It also supports Liverpool John Lennon Airport and its growth ambitions, opening up a much wider catchment for national and international leisure and business travel.
Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns said: “The reopening of the Halton Curve line marks an historic leap forward in North Wales’ cross-border transport connectivity.
“The UK Government is supporting North Wales in every way it can, including backing local leaders to create jobs and generate growth via the North Wales Growth Deal and the Northern Powerhouse. I look forward to the opportunities which arise from this new service and will continue to work with partner organisations to drive up standards for road and rail users across the whole of Wales.”
Ken Skates AM, Welsh Government Minister for Economy and Transport, said: “I’m delighted to be launching the new Transport for Wales rail services between North Wales and Cheshire to Liverpool.
“Each day thousands of commuters travel between North Wales and North West England meaning excellent rail connectivity is vital to the economy on both sides of the border.
“By providing 215 new services per week, we will strengthen links with our cross-border neighbours which will create important economic and social opportunities. Improving access will also provide a boost to our local communities and regional tourism sector, attracting more visitors to Wales.
“I’d like to thank all partners involved in this project and I look forward to continuing our close working relationship for the benefit of all rail users.”
Karla Telford, Network Rail project manager for the Halton Curve upgrade, said: “Our major track and signalling upgrades on the Halton Curve – a relatively small stretch of track near Frodsham – were completed on time and under budget in May last year.
“The upgrade forms a vital part of our Great North Rail Project and unlocks new work and leisure opportunities between the Liverpool City Region, its airport, Cheshire and North Wales.
"Improved rail links are vital to boost the local economy. It’s incredibly exciting to see the new hourly Liverpool to Chester services in operation and welcome the first direct service from North Wales to Liverpool in over 40 years.”
James Price, Transport for Wales CEO said: "Transport for Wales is investing £5 billion to transform the transport sector throughout the Wales and Borders network and we're incredibly excited to see the introduction of the new services linking north Wales and Cheshire with Liverpool.
"It will be a major economic boost for the area and the fact Transport for Wales are delivering 215 brand new services a week, really underpins our commitment to building a better transport network for all.
"This project saw an immense amount of hard work, dedication and investment by so many individuals and agencies and shows just what can be achieved by collaborative working.
“We are approaching our first six months at Transport for Wales and this is another important milestone as we continue to deliver our vision."