HomeBusinessUpgrade doubles rail freight capacity at Port of Liverpool

Upgrade doubles rail freight capacity at Port of Liverpool


A doubling of freight train capacity to and from the Port of Liverpool is the result of the completion of an £8.3 million upgrade of the Bootle branch line.

Work on the track along the Bootle line has been a long-term project, and it re-opened to freight traffic in September 2021. The upgrade is now alleviating pressure on the pinch point between the West Coast main line and the Port of Liverpool by doubling the previous 400-metre section of single track.

Funded by the Department for Transport, the upgrade now allows up to two freight trains an hour to travel in each direction.

Chris Heaton-Harris MP.

Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris commented: “I am delighted that the upgraded Bootle line has opened, offering more opportunities for reliable, greener rail freight to transport goods to and from the thriving Port of Liverpool.

“Rail freight is one of the most sustainable ways to move goods and it is exciting to see our investments in the North boosting the economy and levelling up the region.”

Network Rail North West route director Phil James added: “We have been delighted to have work with Peel Ports and the Department of Transport to remove a bottleneck on the rail network for economically and environmentally important freight trains. 

“With a new 400m double tracked railway successfully in place, it gives the Port of Liverpool increased capacity to transport more goods by train. This will cut carbon emissions and reduce congestion by taking lorries off our roads, helping the country build back better after the pandemic.”

David Huck, Peel Ports.

David Huck, managing director of Peel Ports, which operates Liverpool as well as several other ports and the Manchester Ship Canal, said: “This is truly transformational news for the Port of Liverpool and for the future of sustainable supply chains. The new rail line upgrade enables even more choice and connectivity for customers by providing 4 departures per day from the container terminal. This is in addition to our long-standing bulk rail services.

“We can now reach the central belt of Scotland as well as East and West Midland destinations with ease. Combined with our significant investments in infrastructure, our people, processes and technology, the news further strengthens the proposition for Liverpool as a strong, viable alternative location to southern ports.”

Key goods which pass through the Port of Liverpool and will benefit from this rail freight upgrade include the export of Scottish goods such as shortbread and whisky to American markets by DB Cargo.

GBRf and MSC launched a new freight route between the Port of Liverpool and Castle Donington Gateway in the East Midlands in 2020.

A new GB Railfreight service between Liverpool and the East Midlands also launched in late 2020, aiming to take 20,000 lorry journeys off the roads and avoid some of the most congested motorways in the country.


  1. After railfreight’s port successes in February transferring freight around UK & into EU generating £Billions for UK plc it will be worth speeding up this strategy around other ports and digitising signalling to enable 10 fold capacity increase!! Speak to Maggie Simpson Railfreight head with whome I’ve been liaising as well as Network Rail’s Board. Rail will be a key engine driving UK’s economy and removing 9600 foreign HGV’s coming in daily. Ive got the ships coming into UK Liaising with shipping owners now lets get their containers efficiently distributed by rail!! I’ve got more ships lined up ready and UK Ports are expanding and upgrading to cope.


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