NEW railway stations could be built in Kirkby and Skelmersdale under ambitious plans to extend the Merseyrail network.
Merseytravel has commissioned a £150,000 feasibility study into expanding the Northern line.
Network Rail will be asked to look into the costs of providing a rail link into or close to Skelmersdale town centre, which could result in a new station in the Tower Hill area of Kirkby.
A Merseytravel report stated that Network Rail – the body responsible for the country’s rail network – should look at the “detailed costs” involved.
The report said: “The extension to Skelmersdale through Kirkby would make best use of available capacity on the Merseyrail network because Kirkby trains currently carry fewer passengers than other Northern Line services due to the short distance between Kirkby and Liverpool relative to other branches.
“The expansion would also potentially include a new station at Headbolt Lane [which] would provide the population of Tower Hill direct access to the rail network and deliver benefits to an area which currently only had access to the rail network via interchange at Kirkby.
“The development of this link would also enhance the rail connectivity within the wider Liverpool region.”
The expansion of the line through Kirkby could end at one of the four options proposed by Merseytravel – a rail link into Skelmersdale town centre, to just south of the M58, to White Moss or to a new park-and-ride station between Rainford and Up Holland.
The “reasonably complex” project will cost around £150,000 to complete, with £100,000 put forward by Lancashire county council and Merseytravel paying the rest.
Merseytravel chairman Cllr Liam Robinson said: “We want to work very closely with our colleagues at Lancashire county council and West Lancashire council to see what could be possible.
“We are very conscious of the constraints on public spending. If we want to get money for this, there has got to be a compelling case why is why we have asked for this study.
“It is an opportunity to look at all the options, work out which would be best and make sure there is a strong case. The most important thing is that we go through this business case process as a first step.”
Skelmersdale is the second largest town in the North West without a station.