Train operator Merseyrail will run extra services between Liverpool and Aintree on the three days of the Grand National Festival – as well as the usual free flip-flops. Tony McDonough reports
Merseyrail will run a special timetable during the three days of the Grand National Festival with tens of thousands of people expected to travel to the meeting.
Aintree station sits on Merseyrail’s Liverpool to Ormskirk line where, in the last few weeks. Originally it was planned a number of units from the new 777 class £500m train fleet would be introduced on the line in time for the the festival which takes place Thursday to Saturday, April 13 to 15.
However, since the trains were introduced onto the Kirkby line in January there have been a number of teething problems. So the Ormskirk rollout is now delayed.
There will be a seven-and-a-half-minute frequency of service running between Liverpool city centre and Aintree station before the start and after the finish of the races on each day of the festival.
Trains on all Northern line services will run to a slightly amended timetable. Some trains may leave a few minutes earlier than normal. Passengers should check the journey planner for up-to-date departure times before travelling.
Trains to and from Aintree will be as follows. On all three days, a seven-and-a-half-minute service will run between Aintree and Liverpool Central/Moorfields stations at the following times:
- From approximately 11am to 2pm (before the races).
- From approximately 5pm to 8.48pm (after the races).
On the Ormskirk line stations between Liverpool city centre and Ormskirk will have a normal 15-minute service. However, to allow the extra trains to operate, Aughton Park station and Town Green station will have a 30-minute service.
Trains to Liverpool will not call at Orrell Park station between 4.30pm and 9pm. Passengers should check the journey planner on Merseyrail’s website or the Merseyrail app for up-to-date departure times before travelling.
Southport line trains will run to a slightly amended 15-minute timetable. Passengers should check the journey planner on Merseyrail’s website or the Merseyrail app for up-to-date departure times before travelling.
Some services on the Kirkby line between 10am and 9pm will start and terminate at Sandhills. Passengers for Moorfields or Liverpool Central, or those making the return journey to Rice Lane, Fazakerley or Kirkby, may have to change at Sandhills.
Services operated by Northern from Kirkby to Wigan Wallgate will be a rail-replacement bus service, with the last bus leaving Kirkby station at 7.20pm each evening.
All Wirral line services will run to the normal timetable. Passengers travelling to the festival from any Wirral line stations are advised to change at Moorfields for an Aintree-bound train.
Anyone planning to travel between April 13 and 15 is advised to plan their journey in advance using the journey planner on Merseyrail’s website to understand how the changes affect their journey.
Passengers are “strongly advised” to buy tickets in advance to help reduce queuing time on the day.
A range of entertainment is planned to welcome those using the rail network. As always, Merseyrail staff will be there handing out their famous flip-flops to anyone with sore feet after a long day at the races.
Suzanne Grant, commercial director at Merseyrail, said: “For many years Merseyrail has been proud to play a significant part in The Grand National Festival, helping to ensure thousands of festival-goers have a great experience. We are ready and excited to provide the same high level of service this year.
“An increased frequency on the timetable will ensure we get tens of thousands of attendees to and from Aintree quickly and comfortably.
“However, due to the sheer volume of people our trains and stations will still be very busy, so please be patient and check our website, app or social media before you travel.”