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Both routes to Manchester share the Chester to Crewe line for a short distance to Brook Lane Junction where the Manchester lines diverge to Mickle Trafford at which point the southern route of the Cheshire Lines Committee (see the Mid-Cheshire Line) diverges south-easterly to Mouldsworth whilst the considerably older route built by the London and North Western Railway continues to Helsby (junction from Ellesmere Port), Frodsham (nearest station to the junction for the Halton Curve), Runcorn East . Then through the Sutton Tunnel (over a mile long) and northwards alongside the West Coast Main Line into Warrington Bank Quay railway station.
From Warrington the route follows the original Grand Junction Railway route northwards through Winwick Junction to Earlestown where it joins George Stephenson's original Liverpool and Manchester Railway, which was the world's first inter-city railway, having opened in 1830. From here this venerable route is via Newton-le-Willows, Patricroft and Eccles and then either via the earlier route to Manchester Victoria station or, as at present, via Ordsall Lane and Castlefield junctions, joining the Manchester to Preston Line and on to Deansgate, Manchester Oxford Road and Manchester Piccadilly station at platforms 13 & 14.
Arriva Trains Wales operate an hourly service throughout between Manchester and Chester (no trains stop at Patricroft, Eccles or Deansgate, which are served by Liverpool to Manchester Lines) and onwards calling at all stations to Llandudno on the North Wales Coast Line (except Sundays, when trains terminate at Chester).
Class 175 units are primarily used for the services between Manchester and North Wales, although Class 142 Pacer and Class 156 Sprinter units are used on the infrequent service between Liverpool/Warrington B.Q and Ellesmere Port which share the line between Warrington and Helsby.
It is also used by the Freightliner Group.