Rail users are being warned of major disruption to the Wirral Line in 2017 as essential engineering work is carried out.
Train services between West Kirby and Liverpool will cease at Birkenhead North for a significant period between January and June.
Merseyrail said there would be rail replacement bus services and Mersey Ferry services in operation while the work is carried out.
Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, Merseyrail’s managing director, said: ‘The work that Network Rail will undertake next year is essential for maintaining the safe and reliable operation of the infrastructure built in the 1970s, however we do not under-estimate the inconvenience this will cause to our Wirral line passengers in the short term.
“This renewal work forms part of a much bigger programme of investment in the rail system across the region throughout 2017 and 2018.
“During the next few months, we will work with Merseytravel to finalise the alternative travel arrangements, including the extensive rail replacement bus service that will be required when the river bed tunnel is closed.”
Martin Frobisher, route managing director for Network Rail, added: ‘This renewal work is vital to ensure the safe running of trains on the network and part of a £340 million investment in the region.
“We are working closely with Merseyrail and Merseytravel to ensure that robust alternative transport is arranged during the work period to make sure there is good access to the city and that disruption is minimised.”
The track in the underground ‘loop’, which forms the one way section of the Wirral line under Liverpool city centre, was built in the 1970s.
But 40 years on, the concrete that supports the track needs to be replaced. To minimise disruption, Network Rail is also taking the opportunity to replace the track under the riverbed between James Street and Hamilton Square at the same time.
When the work is finished, passengers will be assured that the railway infrastructure is reliable for the next decades of intensive use by our train services.
The work will be carried out in three phases, starting in early January 2017.
From Tuesday 3 January 2017 till Sunday 12 February 2017, there will be no Wirral line trains beyond Birkenhead Central and Birkenhead North towards Liverpool.
From Monday 13 February 2017 till Monday 29 May 2017, Wirral line trains will run as far as James Street on weekdays. At the weekends, trains will run only as far as Birkenhead North and Birkenhead Central, as in phase 1. However, on bank holidays weekends, and the Saturday of the Grand National, they will run to James Street.
From Tuesday 30 May 2017 till Sunday 18 June 2017, there will again be no Wirral line trains beyond Birkenhead Central and Birkenhead North towards Liverpool.