How Preston’s transport plan could benefit Southport & the Ormskirk Merseyrail Northern Line

The graphic above*, which you will need to click on to enlarge for reading, is an extract from the recently published Preston City Transport Plan. It’s an important document because it discusses much needed transport, in this case rail, improvements to the south and west of Preston.

If you look closely the document is promoting the re-connection of the Burscough North Curve so that trains can once again travel between Preston and Southport. This is what the curves looked like when they were in place in the 1960’s:-

The Burscough Curves are in West Lancashire. This historic shot of them is from when they were in place, in 1960’s.

OPSTA, the Ormskirk, Preston & Southport Travelers Association has been promoting the re-connection of the Burscough Curves since the 1980’s and they have been the driving force behind improving the Ormskirk – Preston Line and the reopening of Midge Hall Station. But it’s been an uphill struggle with Lancashire County Council (the Transport Authority) seeming being at best lukewarm about the line the present train operator (Northern) struggling to deliver the present basic service reliably.

Ormskirk’s Station where Merseyrail and Northern trains meet.

Another way forward is for Merseyrail to run trains all the way from Liverpool Central to Preston via the removal of the buffer stops at Ormskirk and other signaling/track improvements. To me this has always been the most sensible solution to bring the Ormskirk – Preston Line up to its true potential, together of course with the introduction of Southport – Preston trains. The fact that some of Merseyrail’s soon to arrive Class 777 Stadler rolling stock will now have battery operation facility (this had been in doubt previously) then them operating on the line without the need for expensive electrification equipment opens up real opportunities.

A mock-up of a Class 777 – The new Merseyrail trains that will soon replace the Class 507/508 EMU’s

Graphic Notes:-
* ‘P’ is Preston – Numbers 2, 3 & 6 are points along the Ormskirk – Preston Railway Line – 2 is the proposed new Coote Lane Station – 3 being the proposed reopening of Midge Hall Station and 6 is where the connecting Burscough Curves are situated i.e. where the Ormsirk – Preston and Southport – Wigan lines cross each other.

4 thoughts on “How Preston’s transport plan could benefit Southport & the Ormskirk Merseyrail Northern Line

  1. Mike says:

    I have advocated for years that Merseyrail should take over the line from Ormskirk to Preston, we run to Chester and it is a great service and a popular way to move people between these two cities, opening up to Preston would be very beneficial to both areas (those cattle trucks that run between Ormskirk and Preston are embarrasing). I also believe the station should be re=opened at Skelmersdale to link it by rail to Ormskirk Liverpool an dPreston, it would benefit the entire area.

  2. Steve Lambert says:

    A potential way forward may be some sort of cost sharing initiative between Lancashire and Merseyside to turn into a reality.

  3. Marie says:

    I think a complete service between Liverpool and Preston is a much needed link. I regularly travel from Liverpool to Burscough and mostly have to rely on family goodwill and be picked up from Ormskirk as not only is it difficult to plan smooth travel time from Liverpool to Burscough but as it is a different company this also massively increases the cost as a Mersey railcard is only valid to Ormskirk from Liverpool!

  4. Phil says:

    The most sensible solution is one that you have not mentioned.

    Reopen BOTH curves.

    Run new Direct Southport-Preston services via the North Curve, and extend Merseyrail to a new terminal bay platform at Burscough Bridge via the South Curve.

    Whilst you dont get Direct Liverpool-Preston services on the line it does provide better connections to passengers. Turning Burscough Bridge into a VERY useful interchange with direct trains to Liverpool, Southport, Preston, Wigan and Beyond. It also means you dont have to build an expensive new white elephant interchange station. Each curve would only need to be single track.

    Service Pattern:
    2tph Southport-Preston (possible for some to extend to Blackpool)
    2tph Southport-Manchester Victoria via Wigan
    4tph Burscough Bridge-Liverpool Central

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