THE construction of Warrington West railway station has been hit by delays and is unlikely to open before 2018 as the council seeks to secure ‘additional funding’.

The Warrington Guardian can reveal the programme of work at the new site, which has been promised since 2002, has suffered a major setback as costs have risen above Network Rail's 'initial estimates'.

Network Rail will be managing the project and is working alongside the council to ensure it can be delivered after blueprints were approved by planning chiefs last October.

The council previously confirmed the scheme in Chapelford, which was initially set to be completed in 2017, would cost £12.66 million.

A total of £6.53 million was due to be funded by the growth fund, which is Government funding through the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership, with £4.31 million provided through the council's capital programme.

However, the new completion cost faces a significant increase, although the authority said the figure 'is yet to be finalised'.

The council is currently 'looking at additional funding options' and cost-saving measures to 'ensure the best outcome for Warrington rail passengers'.

It is anticipated Warrington West will be unable to open until 2018 but a further announcement will be made once a revised delivery programme is confirmed.

The development site is bounded between land west of Belvedere Drive and Detroit Close, south of Oklahoma Boulevard, as well as Boston Boulevard, and north of Sycamore Lane.

Fears have been raised from residents over issues including noise and security but council figures have assured them concerns will be thoroughly considered.

After completion the station will also be home to a car park accommodating more than 280 vehicles, space for 42 bikes, bus stops and a taxi rank.

Sankey station will remain open with 'reduced rush hour only services' to Liverpool and Manchester once Warrington West Station opens and its current service pattern will be 'maintained' until then.

Despite the setback the authority insists it is confident of getting the plans back on track.

A spokesman said: "The council remains firmly committed to delivering a new railway station at Warrington West which will bring major benefits to rail passengers travelling to and from this part of Warrington – and in particular will help to improve access to and from the Omega and Lingley Mere sites.

"The station is predicted to be very popular and will attract large numbers of passengers and, following the recent announcement of improved train services, the station will be served by three trains per hour in each direction.

"It will serve all stations on the line between Liverpool and Manchester, with one of these three trains per hour being a new Arriva Rail North connect express service connecting directly with Liverpool, Liverpool South Parkway, Manchester and Manchester Airport.

"This express service will be run using brand new well equipped trains running at speeds of up to 100mph."