AN event to mark the completion of a major improvement works programme to upgrade facilities and access at Prescot railway station has taken place.

The £8m project started in June 2020 and continued throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

The improvements will be key for Prescot as the area prepares to welcomes thousands of visitors to the Shakespeare North Playhouse in coming years.

The venue is due to open in the summer of 2020.

St Helens Star:

A CGI image of how Shakespeare North Playhouse is set to look

Representatives from key stakeholders including Knowsley Council, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, Northern, Network Rail, Seed Architects and The Input Group gathered in Prescot for the event.

They watched as Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram unveil a commemorative plaque alongside Cllr Graham Morgan, the leader of Knowsley Council to officially launch the new look station.

The station now has a new lift shaft on each platform, a modern refurbished ticket office, new toilet facilities and enhanced lighting and signage.

The car park has also been remodelled to include a dedicated drop-off area as well as new secure cycle parking.

These upgrades have made the station fully accessible with step free access between the car park, the station platforms and station facilities.

Customers will also find new information screens, platform seating and a new platform shelter.

In addition, Bridge Road, outside of the station has also been fully resurfaced.

Connecting to the town centre:

As well as creating a warmer welcome to the railway station and the town itself, these improvements will also help to provide an easier connection between the station and Prescot town centre.

This improvement work is part of a major investment programme into the town and Knowsley Council’s ambitious plans to transform Prescot town centre into a more attractive place for residents, visitors and local businesses.

Alongside the railway station improvements, there has also been a major upgrade of the public realm along Eccleston Street, new illumination at St Mary’s Church and new bespoke wayfinding signs installed across the town centre.

Bespoke gateway artworks were also installed at the main entries and exits to the town earlier this month.

A plaque markign the projects completion

A plaque markign the project's completion

Prescot has also been selected as a High Street Heritage Action Zone, which will see major investment from Knowsley Council and Historic England to repair and restore historic buildings and space in the town centre.

Alongside this, construction of The Shakespeare North Playhouse is ongoing and when this opens next year Prescot will be ready to welcome the thousands of new visitors expected to the town.

The work is directly supported by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority as part of the wider Shakespeare North Rail Interchange Prescot scheme.

What they said:

Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said:

“I was first elected on a pledge to leave no area behind and I’m really proud of everything we’ve done to help get Prescot on the up again.

"Between the £10m we’ve invested in Shakespeare North and £8m in additional public realm improvements, including upgrades at the station and are already seeing real progress, with Combined Authority and Knowsley Council funding acting as a catalyst for further regeneration.

“Giving people a proper, decent alternative to the car for getting about is vital in doing our bit to tackle climate change. It’s why I’m so committed to building an integrated London-style transport system that makes it quick, cheap and easy for people to get about, whether they’re on their bike, the bus or the train.

“It’s always fantastic to be here because it means that all of our hard work and investment has paid off. I’m sure Prescot will only be seeing more and more visitors in the coming years so I hope they’ll appreciate all of these upgrades!”

The £8m project has been funded through the Local Growth Fund as part of the wider Shakespeare North Rail Interchange scheme.

Local Growth Funding is awarded to the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and invested through the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s Strategic Investment Fund. The Combined Authority is also contributing £10.55m to the construction of the Shakespeare North Playhouse.

Cllr Tony Brennan, cabinet member for regeneration at Knowsley Council said:

“I’m delighted that the improvement works at the railway station are now complete, especially as this continued despite the COVID-19 pandemic, our thanks to all who have worked so hard to make this happen under challenging circumstances. The station is now much more welcoming and accessible for people who live in the town but also for people who are or will be visiting Prescot.

Representatives of different agencies at the launch

Representatives of different agencies at the launch

“Combined with the investment from Knowsley Council, the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and private developers, Prescot is really looking great and is gearing up to be more than ready to welcome the thousands of new visitors to the town when The Shakespeare North Playhouse opens next year.”

Additional funding for the project has also come from the Department for Transport’s Access for All scheme, for fully accessible passenger toilet and general accessibility upgrades.

Chris Jackson, regional director at Northern said:

“It’s fantastic to see the completion of Prescot station’s transformation. The improvements will make a huge difference for our customers and complement the work Northern has been undertaking to improve stations and trains across our network.”

Philippa Britton, principal programme sponsor for Network Rail said:

“The transformation at Prescot is great news for passengers and will help to make rail travel much easier for station users. The new lifts and improved station facilities will make a real difference to journeys as we look forward to welcoming back more passengers to the railway.”

Knowsley Council worked in partnership with Network Rail, Northern, Merseytravel and Seed Architects to deliver this project.