The tender specification for the new Northern franchise did not hold out any promise of improvements for OPSTA’s services, so the group has been lobbying the shortlisted bidders in the hope of securing additional benefits – they’ve taken an evidence-based approach, backing up their demands with travel-census figures and passenger-survey reports. Some further dialogue with bidders may take place, but OPSTA thinks there’s probably more to be achieved if they switch their attention back to Rail North, transport authorities and the Dept. for Transport.
Recently, representatives from Transport for Greater Manchester welcomed OPSTA’s survey and census work, stating that it produced some very valuable data. It is anticipated that OPSTA’s case for improved services for Edge Hill will be reinforced shortly by the results of a travel survey of students and staff at Edge Hill University, organised by One West Lancs Transport Group.
Also it’s reported that the reopening of Midge Hall station was being keenly discussed between OPSTA and local councillors … until the hiatus caused by the May elections (it’s hoped that talks will resume now the elections are behind us).
In OPSTA’s newsletter, a detailed analysis of electrification options for the North West comes down in favour of extending Merseyrail’s DC system for lines such as Wigan-Southport, and concludes that reinstatement of the Burscough curves would be an essential element of such a scheme.
The nightmare scenario is for lines such as Southport and Kirkby to Wigan/Manchester to be “left out in the cold” as the wires are extended elsewhere in the region. Major events such as the Southport Air Show often lead to severe overcrowding, and OPSTA has been using its local knowledge to assist Northern Rail in planning for such occasions. Merseytravel’s Burscough Demand Study is to be released shortly, and OPSTA expects to be consulted about its findings.
Meanwhile, the campaign to retain booking office facilities at Burscough Bridge station drags on – see photo above.
Text from Rail Users Express photos from Antony Graham, OPSTA, and my own collection respectively. Click on the photos to enlarge them.