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the Mersey Railway Tunnel 1886...

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the Mersey Railway Tunnel 1886...

Post by THE BOSS on Mon Nov 10, 2008 4:55 pm

Why was the Mersey Railway Tunnel built?

Opened in 1886 the Mersey Railway Tunnel was the first tunnel to be built below the River Mersey. It was designed to improve transport links between Liverpool and the developing town of Birkenhead and the Wirral peninsula across the River Mersey. Earlier suggestions to build a road tunnel and a bridge had both been unsuccessful and the first road tunnel beneath the Mersey was not opened until 1934.

Earlier proposals for a railway tunnel were also unsuccessful. An 1866 Act of Parliament authorised a pneumatic (air driven) railway beneath the River Mersey but this was not built owing to the limitations of the available technology. Before the Mersey Railway Tunnel was opened ferries were the only means of crossing the River Mersey between Liverpool and Birkenhead. Despite some difficulties the Mersey Railway Tunnel was a great success and remains in use to this day.

To begin with the Mersey Railway ran between James Street station in Liverpool and Green Lane station in Birkenhead, with stations in between at Hamilton Square and Birkenhead Central both on the Birkenhead side of the river. In January 1888 a branch line was opened between Hamilton Square and Birkenhead Park and in 1891 the line was extended from Green Lane to Rock Ferry on the Wirral. On 11 January 1892 the Liverpool side of the line was extended from James Street to a low level station at Central station. Finally, in 1895 a link was constructed to the railway line between Birkenhead and Chester to the south.

The first electric trains ran on this railway line in May 1903. The Mersey Railway was the first railway nationally to switch entirely from steam power to electric power.

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