£1m contract kick-starts Central Station transformation

A plan for the ‘once-in-a-generation’ transformation of Liverpool Central station and the surrounding area takes a step forward with the issuing of a £1m tender. Tony McDonough reports

Liverpool Central station
Liverpool Central is one of the busiest underground stations outside London. Picture by Tony McDonough


Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (CA) is set to push on with the transformation of Liverpool Central station by inviting consultants to apply for a £1m contract.

It wants to develop a masterplan for the station that will comprise two elements: ideas on addressing rail capacity issues at what is one of the busiest underground stations outside London and a regeneration vision for the station itself and the area around it.

Both the CA and Liverpool City Council see the 150-year-old station, which has its main entrance on Ranelagh Street, as a major gateway between the retail core of the city centre and the fast-growing Knowledge Quarter.

One the contract is awarded the CA will task the consultants with creating a regeneration strategy for Liverpool’s Central Gateway area and identifying the “most appropriate” delivery and funding models for upgrading the station.

Central Station itself is owned and operated by Network Rail, as are all the stations, infrastructure and land on the Merseyrail network. In 2023 Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government.

This set in motion a process that he hopes will lead to the CA taking control of the network, offering huge potential for regeneration projects. 

While this is not essential for the Central Station transformation project to go ahead, it would likely make the logistics and decision-making more straightforward.

While Network Rail owns the station itself, the connecting shopping mall is actually owned by Liverpool City Council. The city council acquired Central Shopping Centre in a deal believed to be worth up to £17m back in 2018. The estate comprises 17 retail units and at that time was generating a total income of £860,000 a year.


Liverpool Central
Liverpool Central station. Picture by Tony McDonough
Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram. Picture by Tony McDonough


Deadline for submissions for the latest tender is April 18. The tender brief says: “The rail network and land regeneration of Liverpool Central station and the surrounding area is a once-in-a-generation opportunity.

“Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (LCRCA) is excited to be approaching the market to help it deliver an ambitious transport-led programme which will create multi-faceted regeneration opportunities.

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“LCRCA and its partners Liverpool City Council are seeking to deliver transformational place-based regeneration using the redevelopment of Liverpool Central station as a foundational catalyst.”

Around 40,000 commuters pass through Central every day, accessing both the Wirral and Northern Lines. It underwent a £40m refurbishment 12 years ago. The latest project aims to enhance both passenger and operational capacity at the station.

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