Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram has revealed he and the Liverpool City Region leaders are considering the potential for an overhead railway to return to the city’s waterfront.
Known as the Dockers’ Umbrella, the light railway operated from the 1890s to the 1950s when it was deemed too expensive to repair and was demolished.
Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Rotheram let slip during a MIPIM UK panel discussion that a “thought piece” was under way, which was considering the potential of a monorail to be built along the waterfront.
Rotheram said: “We’re speaking to the six City Region authority leaders to perhaps think about Dockers’ Umbrella- type connectivity, between the city centre and airport, with a monorail.”
While Rotheram was quick to stress that the monorail was currently “a concept only”, the proposal has subsequently been referenced repeatedly by the Metro Mayor over the course of MIPIM UK, and has been popular with the wider Liverpool delegation.
The demolition of the overhead railway sparked outcry in the 50s, and since then plans to revive the line have repeatedly been ssuggested by members of the public. Rotheram’s “concept” echos that of urban designer Michael McDonough, who in 2017 released CGIs of how the rebuilt train line could look and suggested a map of the route which would run from the city centre to the airport.
Speaking to Place North West, Rotheram said: “The monorail idea has been around for some time. We need to explore transformational projects for Liverpool’s future, and look outside the box for transport solutions and concepts.
“There have been concerns in the past about the Mersey riverbed, about the impact of churning it up and the pollution issues, which of course we don’t want to do. However due to massive engineering projects such as the Mersey Gateway, Liverpool 2, and the upcoming Cruise Liner terminal, we know a lot more about the ecology and what is possible.
“So now we think, maybe, there could be potential for an iconic structure across the waterfront.”
Rotheram has been pushing several major infrastructure projects into the concept stage since he took over as Metro Mayor in 2017. Plans around a potential River Mersey tidal barrage have been progressing, with former Dong Energy chairman Brent Cheshire appointed at the end of last year to lead the creation of a business case.
“I believe the tidal barrage and this opportunity to harness the power of the River Mersey absolutely will materialise, we’re going to see it in the next decade,” Rotheram said. “It’s going to be hugely beneficial for the creation of clean energy – we don’t have to smash up the ground in order to get fuel.
“Work is well under way, the Combined Authority has agreed to fund the second stage which is the creation of a skeletal business case, and a considered report will be going to the Government outlining how it could work.”