WORK has begun on excavating the new subway to connect the platforms at the Newton-le-Willows Rail Interchange scheme.

The station, which has been undergoing a transformation since January 2017, will offer a new park-and-ride.

A main station entrance and ticket office established on the south side of the tracks on Alfred Street.

The aim is to complete the development, which has been hit by delays, in the summer.

Merseytravel say it has been an "incredibly challenging engineering project" to tunnel through a railway embankment which was first built in 1830.

Works have been ongoing while the station is still in operation.

Other changes include step free access to and between the platforms via new subway and lifts, bus interchange adjacent to the new ticket office, a 400-space car park, dedicated drop-off and pick-up area, new toilet facilities and cycle parking.

Conor McGinn, MP for St Helens North, whose constituency covers Newton-le-Willows, said: “Once completed, these improvements to Newton-le-Willows station will mark a significant investment in our region and will bring huge improvements in connectivity to Liverpool, Manchester and beyond.

“It will help to cement Newton-le-Willows’ position as a key location between the Liverpool and Manchester city regions and we can’t wait for the new facilities to open”

Sal Husein, Network Rail Sponsor for the scheme, said: “Work is progressing really well on the new Newton le Willows station entrance, ticket office and subway.

“We have used a unique horizontal piling system to tunnel the new subway which has allowed us to keep the rail lines and current Newton-le-Willows station open.

"Our priority has been to keep passengers moving throughout our work, but this has also meant it is taking a little longer than expected.

“Our normal method would have meant disrupting passenger journeys over an extended period which we wanted to avoid.

"This is a key part of over £340m railway investment in the Liverpool City Region and will be open in summer this year."

The overall scheme is costing £18.95m and is funded by the Local Growth Fund and Merseytravel.

It forms part of the wider £340m investment by the Liverpool City Region and Network Rail in rail improvements until 2019.

The improvements to the station, currently managed by train operator Northern, aim to help create a strategic transport hub, linking up to the transport network with strategic rail links across the country, building on the electrification works that have already taken place on the Liverpool-to-Manchester line.