St Helens Central railway station

St Helens Central railway station (previously known as St. Helens Shaw Street) is a railway station serving the town of St Helens, Merseyside, England. It is on the Liverpool to Wigan Line from Liverpool Lime Street to Wigan North Western. The station and all trains calling at it are operated by Northern Trains or TransPennine Express.

St Helens Central National Rail
Bridges, St. Helens Central railway station (geograph 3795538).jpg
PlaceSt Helens
Local authoritySt Helens
Coordinates53°27′10″N 2°43′48″W / 53.4529°N 2.730°W / 53.4529; -2.730Coordinates: 53°27′10″N 2°43′48″W / 53.4529°N 2.730°W / 53.4529; -2.730
Grid referenceSJ516953
Station codeSNH
Managed byNorthern Trains
Number of platforms2
DfT categoryD
Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections
from National Rail Enquiries
Annual rail passenger usage*
2014/15Decrease 1.044 million
2015/16Increase 1.140 million
2016/17Increase 1.167 million
2017/18Increase 1.301 million
2018/19Decrease 0.657 million
Passenger Transport Executive
Original companySt Helens Canal and Railway
Pre-groupingLondon and North Western Railway
Post-groupingLondon Midland and Scottish Railway
1 February 1858Opened as St Helens
1 March 1949Renamed St Helens Shaw Street
11 May 1987Renamed St Helens Central
National RailUK railway stations
* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at St Helens Central from Office of Rail and Road statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.

The station is on the Merseyrail City Line. The City Line is the name given to local rail routes out of Liverpool Lime Street operated by companies other than Merseyrail. The City Line appears on maps of the Merseyrail network as red, and covers the Liverpool-Wigan Line. Although it is branded under the Merseyrail name, the routes are operated by Northern Trains on behalf of Merseytravel rather than by the Merseyrail franchise.


The station was originally opened by the St Helens Canal and Railway as St Helens on 1 February 1858 to replace two earlier nearby 1833 and 1849 stations. The original 1833 route from Widnes Dock through the town (along with the branch from St Helens Junction) and onwards to Rainford Junction (opened along with the station in 1858) was joined a decade later by the Lancashire Union Railway to Wigan North Western and Blackburn in December 1869, whilst the route southwestwards to Huyton was opened by the London and North Western Railway in 1871. It was renamed St Helens Shaw Street in 1949.

The station in 1992 largely as completed in 1961

The station was completely rebuilt in 1961[1] to a design by the architect William Robert Headley[2] which included and advertised a significant amount of the local Pilkington Vitrolite Glass. The fully glazed ticket hall was illuminated by a tower with a valley roof on two Y-shaped supports. The platform canopies were free standing folded plate roofs on tubular columns.

By this time, the original St Helens and Runcorn Gap Railway routes had both closed to passenger traffic, services having ceased on 18 June 1951. The short branch to St Helens Junction suffered the same fate in June 1965 as a result of the Beeching Axe, though freight traffic would continue to operate on both lines until the 1980s.

It then became St Helens Central in 1987 (the original GCR St Helens Central station situated on Corporation Street having been completely closed in 1952 and demolished in the late 1960s). Two years later the through link to St Helens Junction was severed, though the section as far as the Hays Chemicals plant at Sutton Oak remained open until 2002 (the track remains in place but out of use to the present day).[3] This left only the Liverpool to Wigan line in operation, along with a short section of the old Rainford line serving the Pilkington Glass factory at Cowley Hill (near Gerards Bridge) though this has also been disused for several years.

An accident occurred on 11 November 1988, when a train from Blackpool North to Liverpool Lime Street became derailed after it departed from St Helens Central at 23:15. Leaving the station, the driving cab struck a bridge abutment; the driver was killed and 16 passengers received minor injuries.[4]

In 2005, Merseytravel and Network Rail invited tenders for the reconstruction of the station, including a new station building, footbridge and lifts. The new station building and facilities were assembled just a few yards from the 1960s station building and is the third build on the same site. The project came in at a total estimated cost of £6 million,[5] with the European Union contributing £1.7 million towards the total funding.[6] The new footbridge was lifted into place in the early hours of 22 January 2007. Construction work was completed in the summer, with the new waiting rooms and footbridge opened to passengers on 19 September. The new station building was officially opened on 3 December 2007.


Overhead electrification of the Liverpool to Wigan line was completed in 2015.[7] Earlier, modifications to the adjacent bridgeworks were undertaken in 2012 and during 2014 electrification masts and new signals were installed, overhead wiring taking place in early 2015. Northern Rail, the then train operating company, announced the introduction of electric services on the line from the commencement of the new timetable changeover on 17 May 2015 and the Liverpool to Wigan service is now operated by 4-Car Class 319 electric units. Following completion of the Preston to Blackpool electrification during 2018, the Liverpool to Blackpool North service began using Class 319 electrics over the whole route. Under normal circumstances therefore, St. Helens has an all-electric service. On Sundays there's now a half-hourly service as far as Wigan, with alternate trains continuing to Preston and Blackpool. Class 331 Civity electric units have begun running alongside the existing Class 319 sets on the line since July 2019.

Station InformationEdit

Penalty fares do not apply at this station. The station is open and staffed from 05:45 to 23:50 (08:00 on Sundays).

The booking office is open 05:50 to 20:40 Monday to Saturday, 08:00 to 22:00 on Sundays. Advanced, season, general ticket enquires and sales can be made.[8] A ticket vending machine is provided next to the booking office. Disabled access is facilitated by lifts on both platforms.

Car parking (including disabled bays) is available and is free for rail users, provided a parking ticket for the vehicle is obtained from the ticket office first. Re-charging facilities have recently been provided for electrically-powered vehicles.

Cold drink and snack vending machines are provided in the waiting room on the Wigan-bound platform. In March 2012, a dedicated coffee shop serving hot and cold food was opened upstairs in the main station building but closed in September 2012, the franchise remaining vacant up to the present.

As of 2017, St Helens Central operates automatic ticket barriers, replacing a temporary manned barrier operated by Northern (Arriva Rail North).


During Monday to Saturday daytimes, there is a half-hourly local stopping service between Liverpool Lime Street and Wigan North Western, and an hourly fast service between Lime Street and Blackpool North via Preston.[9] Until the May 2018 timetable update, this service started and terminated at Liverpool South Parkway.[10] Two TransPennine Express trains call per day from Liverpool Lime Street to Preston in both directions and one train per day is extended to Glasgow Central. On Sundays, this is extended to three trains per day in both directions.

On Sundays, there is now a half-hourly service to Wigan and Liverpool, with one of the former each hour continuing to Blackpool North.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Tolson, J.M. (1982). St. Helens railway: its rivals and successors. Usk: Oakwood Press. p. 87. ISBN 0-85361-292-7.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  2. ^ Lawrence, David (2018). British Rail Architecture 1948-97. Crecy Publishing Ltd. p. 74. ISBN 9780860936855.
  3. ^ "Disused Stations - Sutton Oak"Disused Stations Retrieved 25 March 2016
  4. ^ Taylor, J.H. (July 1992). "Report of a train Accident that occurred on 11th November 1988 near St Helens Central Station in the London Midland Region of British Railways". Health and Safety Executive. Retrieved 8 November 2012.
  5. ^ "Major works completed at St Helens Central Station". Merseytravel website. Merseytravel. 24 April 2007. Retrieved 3 March 2009.
  6. ^ "The EU: What's in it for me?" (PDF). European Union. 2008. Retrieved 14 January 2011.
  7. ^ "Electrification in the North". Network Rail. Retrieved 8 November 2012.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Table 90 National Rail timetable, May 2019
  10. ^ GB eNRT December 2017 Edition, Table 90

External linksEdit

Preceding station   National Rail Following station
Huyton   Northern Trains
Liverpool to Wigan Line
  Wigan North Western
Thatto Heath     Garswood
Liverpool Lime Street   TransPennine Express
TransPennine North West
  Wigan North Western
  Historical railways  
Terminus   London and North Western Railway
Lancashire Union Railway
  Carr Mill
Disused railways
Gerards Bridge   LNWR
St Helens and Runcorn Gap Railway
  Peasley Cross