Liverpool – Calderstones Park Miniature Railway & a rather unpopular house building scheme

The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above

Those who know me will realise that I am into railways of any scale so it will be no surprise that I picked up on this Echo article.

The Echo story reads as a good news one until you get towards the end of it because the potential bonus for the miniature railway (must get around to visiting it) is really built upon the loss of much loved green space for housing. The story is also very different from the one the paper published in October 2014:-

Obviously I wish the miniature railway well but not at the expense of valuable urban green space being built upon.

Brexit – May(hem) is determined to push the UK over the edge

Lib Dem Leader Tim Farron says “Now we know what Theresa May’s Brexit looks like and it’s not pretty.

The Government is pushing for a destructive hard Brexit with the UK leaving the single market. It will be a disaster for jobs, our economy and for public services.

The sad fact is, this speech could have been written by Peter Bone, delivered by Nigel Farage and will no doubt be cheered on by Jeremy Corbyn.

We – the Liberal Democrats are the only party that will oppose this Conservative Brexit Government.”

And here in The Guardian the Lib Dem Leader savages Mrs May(hem)

Tim is fast becoming a hate figure for the Tory/UKIP/Labour Alliance because he is standing up to them and their joint determination to push the UK economy over the edge. Come and join the Lib Dems as we fight the battle that Labour can’t be bothered to fight!

With thanks to Roy Connell for his contribution to this posting.

Conservative Council looks to 15% hike in Council tax

The BBC has the story on its web site – see link above

Now this is an interesting story and it shows how deep the cuts in local government funding have gone. Whether Surrey County Council’s Tory rulers will follow through with this significant rise remains to be seen though.

Locally the elected Labour Mayor of Liverpool was talking about a big hike in Council tax a few weeks ago only to back off when the unpopularity of it became apparent.

BUT it is clear to all of us that social care for the elderly across England is slowly but surely falling apart due to funding cuts. So one way or another we are going to have to pay more whether that be in national or local taxes. If this crisis, which mirrors the similar crisis in the NHS, is not tackled and soon we will no long be able to call ourselves a civilised country. Deliberately under funding care for the elderly is appalling.

With thanks to Roy Connell for spotting the BBC story.

Merseytravel & Merseyrail – Have ‘travel’ dropped ‘rail’ in it?’


I was taken by a short article in a recent Merseytravel staff briefing which reads:-

RMT Union story

We received a number of enquiries regarding the RMT announcement regarding a dispute with Merseyrail in relation to new trains which were directed to Merseyrail who issued a statement. This was picked up by several local and regional media including the Liverpool Echo.

Firstly lets get a few explanations in

The railway unions are ASLEF and RMT

The public transport body for the Liverpool City Region/Merseyside is Merseytravel which is a Committee of the Liverpool City Region. The Liverpool City Region is presently run by the leaders of the 6 local authorities across Merseyside. These leaders in turn nominate councillors to sit on the Merseytravel Committee.

The current private sector operator of the trains on the Merseyrail 3rd rail electrified suburban network is unsurprisingly called Merseyrail.It has a franchise agreement to run the Merseyrail network until 2028 if memory serves. They were awarded that franchise by Merseytravel.

There is every reason to think that those who are not close to the goings on of the rail industry on Merseyside will confuse and transpose the names Merseytravel and Merseyrail. Indeed, the similar names must lead to confusion as to who is responsible for what. That may of course be convenient for some?

Now back to the reason for this posting. You see the quote above from the Merseytravel staff briefing is revealing as in effect the public transport body for our area is seemingly saying to the press don’t ask us about the operation of the new trains we have just ordered ask Merseyrail the operator of the trains.

But just hang on a minute who ordered the new trains? Yes you’ve guessed correctly it is Merseytravel. And who chose to select a bidder to build the trains – again Merseytravel. So who decided that the new trains would be DOO (Driver Only Operation) i.e. No train Guard? Well to me it must be Merseytravel yet again. It was they who put out the tender for the building of the trains, they who selected the winning bidder (Swiss firm Stadler) and they who will own trains that are not intended to run with Train Guards.

On that basis why are Merseytravel saying that they are telling the media to speak to Merseyrail about the potential for an industrial dispute over the removal of Train Guards? Yes, Merseyrail will be the employer which the unions will be legally in dispute with but the creation of that dispute, should it get to that point, will have been via the decision making of the public sector body Merseytravel!

Work that one out! And is this ‘arrangement’ not very similar to what is going on with the Southern Rail dispute presently i.e. the public sector (in Southern’s case the Department for Transport) making decisions that a private sector operator then has to implement whilst the public sector hands are washed of it all?

My thanks to Phil for the thoughts behind this particular posting.

BTW, just a thought. It’s not so long ago that there was a big fuss about new trains being built abroad instead of in the UK. I have not heard a peep about Merseyrail’s new trains being Swiss built. And is this not even more odd now we have as a nation confirmed our wish (not mine I would add!) to be insular and inward facing? As I say just a thought.

Liverpool – The trouble getting there early on a Sunday morning

We live in a 7 day a week society/economy these days and I often wonder if there is not more traffic on our roads on a Sunday than any other day.

But this is not really a posting about the rights and wrongs about Sunday trading. I’m an atheist so the religious angles are not an issue for me but I am also a trade unionist and I really do fear the exploitation of workers and a breakdown of family life. However, I will leave those aspects to one side for now.

No, the reason for this posting is associated with the ability of those who do not drive to be able to access a city like Liverpool from its northern suburbs early on a Sunday morning.

Let’s look at Merseyrail and Maghull to start with. The first train out of Maghull on a Sunday morning is at 8.30am. And if you live north of Ormskirk the Ormskirk – Preston line does not run at all on a Sunday!

Then what about say Lydiate and Arriva buses? Well their first 300 bus on a Sunday to Liverpool is at 08.25am.

But are there any other bus options? Well there’s the No.30/30A bus which starts from Ashworth Hospital. The first bus (30A) on a Sunday runs at 7.22am from Ashworth using Dodds Lane, Moss Lane, Hall Lane, Liverpool Road South. Note it does not serve the north west of Maghull or Lydiate at all. The next bus is a number 30 which starts at 7.43am and covers a similar route although it does call in at Maghull Railway Station at 7.51am some 39 minutes before the first train out of Maghull to Liverpool.

If you need to be in work early on a Sunday and do not have a car or more likely are in a low paid job and can’t afford to run one what are your options if you live in the north west part of Maghull or any part of Lydiate other than a high cost taxi?

PS. I penned this posting before Merseytravel’s Sefton Bus Review proposals were made public just yesterday but I don’t think they change this situation much sadly:-

My last but one posting prior to this one was about the impact of the Sefton Bus Review on the Lydiate and Maghull area.