Merseytravel – Are they delivering?

Well according to their Chairperson, Liam Robinson, they are.

I reported on OPSTA’s (Ormskirk, Preston & Southport Travellers assn) public meeting a few days ago which was actually held in the community room of Southport Fire Station of all places. That posting was about the utterly appalling train service, or indeed the complete lack of a train service last week, on the Ormskirk Preston Line and here’s a link back to that posting:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/11/23/northern-trains-could-the-ormskirk-preston-line-be-the-most-poorly-performing-in-the-uk/

Now don’t get me wrong I’m not blaming Liam Robinson in any way for Northern’s terrible performance but he listened to stories of Northern’s Failures at the meeting (he was our guest speaker) and because he has an influence on Rail North those sad stories were heard and you never know……….

I quite like Liam’s handling of transport issues on Merseyside and I feel he has been a positive influence on what to me seemed to be struggling public sector organisation before he took the chair of it. Yes, I know we live it terribly tribal party political times and I’m expected to hate anyone who is not a Lib Dem; well I don’t think in traditional British political tribal terms………

Stadler Class 777 – The new Merseyrail trains that will soon replace the Class 507/508 EMU’s

Cllr. Robinson presented his vision of how bus services could be improved in the Liverpool City Region (beyond the present Bus Alliance with Arriva and Stagecoach) and he talked in very enthusiastic terms about the Class 777 Stadler trains that Merseytravel have ordered for the Merseyrail network. Without being prompted he also made reference to the potential to extend Merseyrail Northern Line beyond Ormskirk to Burscough and even Preston although he was clear that he was not promising that it would happen. To be honest passengers on that line would welcome it being run using the Titfield Thunderbolt of Ealing Comedy fame as surely no one could run it as badly as Northern have been doing.

The other rail thing that he touched on and which is vital to expanding the Merseyrail system is the lack of capacity at Liverpool Central Station. If that issue is not seriously addressed in the near future there’s every possibility, in my view, that Merseyrail will be stuck with a bottle-neck which will impede the running of our local railway.

So yes I was pleased to sit and listen to Liam at the meeting and readers who have a liking for tribal politics will have to be disappointed with me.

Maghull – Downed trees at Central Square – Why?

I must admit to being shocked when I saw the felled trees yesterday at the junction of Liverpool Road Noth/Westway as they were a useful screen to the car park and buildings behind them. This is the scene I happened upon:-

Of course, it could be that the reason for the felling has passed me by and others know what it’s all about; I just happened to walk up Liverpool Road Road North on Sunday afternoon and saw this scene.

Thinking back to my days as a Sefton Councillor representing Maghull my memory is that when the previous owners of the Square created the car park on the land at the side of the former HSBC Bank that the trees which have now been felled were deliberately left in place to provide screening. It may even be the case that this was all part of the planning application/approval for the site to become a car park.

I’m a fully paid up tree hugger so any trees being felled upsets me. I would love to know what the felling is all about and why it was considered necessary. Presently, I look upon the scene as environmental vandalism!

Robins Bridge Meadows – Is it just me?

First a bit of personal history; we had our wedding reception at Aughton Chase in 1982.

If memory serves it then closed down in the late 1980s/early 1990s with the building subsequently burning down and becoming derelict. The site was in West Lancs Green Belt and it took many years for it to be released from that for development.

In the past 3 years or so houses, very big houses, have slowly been built across the site with big price tags on them. The site, I might add, is all within Aughton and therefore West Lancashire but it abuts the Lydiate/Sefton Borough boundary.

So why am I rehearsing this 30+ years of history? Well, it’s because of the impression I have gained whilst travelling past this prominent site next to the A59 Northway. Probably best if I illustrate things:-

Do you see what I mean? The high wooden fencing around the site is hardly appealing, is it?

Click on the photos to enlarge them

Northern Trains – Could the Ormskirk-Preston Line be the most poorly performing in the UK?

Ormskirk’s Station where Merseyrail and Norther trains meet

Well if it’s not I would hate to be a passenger on one that is even worse.

Last night I attended an open meeting of OPSTA (Ormskirk, Preston & Southport Travellers Association) and the stories of absolute chaos on this rail route were sad and numerous. An 80-year-old lady told the meeting how she can’t get to hospital appointments in Preston due to cancellations and the fact that some of the rail replacement buses don’t call at all the stations on the line! She lives in Croston and without the train, as she does not drive, getting to Preston is very difficult indeed.

Burscough Junction Station on the Ormskirk – Preston line.

If I’m correctly informed, which I think I am, there have no trains on the line at all this week so far. What’s more, I hear that Northern are resistant to paying for taxis when the trains and rail replacement buses both fail to provide a service.

Northern are supposed to be operating an hourly service on the line since the May 2018 timetable changes but it looks like they are interpreting this as 1 a week! We heard stories of passengers missing exams, having to take time off work or even getting to the stage where their jobs may be at risk because of this poorly performing rail franchise.

Unsurprisingly, Northern is reputed to be losing a lot of money on the franchise and there seems little confidence in those who know about the local rail industry that anything is going to change much in the foreseeable future. Will Northern have to pull out of the franchise, or will it have to be taken away from them?

It’s a sorry story indeed but it is ruining the lives of passengers who rely on Northern’s trains to get to work, to hospital, do their shopping or just run their day to day lives and frankly it is just not good enough. And the big question is what are the MP’s representing constituents along the Ormskirk – Preston line doing about it? One suggestion at the meeting was to try to replicate what Tim Farron the MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale did when Northern failed spectacularly on the Lakes Line from Oxenhome to Windermere – he helped organise an alternative rail provider and made the DfT/Northern pay for it.

OPSTA are going to be banging the drum very hard indeed to get local politicians to take action. Oh, and by the way, there’s a clear suspicion that when Northern is in trouble they will often choose the Ormskirk – Preston Line to cancel trains – It would be interesting to get to the bottom of that train of thought.

Rough Sleeping on Merseyside

This is always a worrying matter but particularly so at this time of the year with plummeting temperatures.

The Liverpool Echo has an informative article by Liam Thorpe on rough sleeping on its website which is well worth a read – see link below:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/official-number-homeless-people-merseyside-15447648

The Sefton Borough figures are interesting to note as I guess you will be as surprised as I am with them.

Extract from Echo articleSefton’s figures show there are 9 rough sleepers in the borough and 40 homeless people in temporary shelter.

I fully expected them to be higher, although the difficulty in recording accurately has to be taken into account.

Rough sleeping shames a civilised society and the work of charities like Shelter is vital.

Lydiate/Great Altcar Footpath Mystery

I’ve been trying to find the public footpath that starts (or finishes) at the junction of Bells Lane/Altcar Lane* right on the boundary of Lydiate and Great Altcar. It runs from this point in a southwesterly direction over the Cheshire Lines/Trans Pennine Trail footpath/cycle path and then on via Showicks Bridge to Lunt Meadows Nature Reserve.

Actually, it’s just the short section of it from Bells Lane/Altcar Lane to the Cheshire Lines Path that I’m trying to trace because when I travel along the CLP I can’t find it at all. Below is a photo of the general area of the CLP that I’m referring to and the footpath should cross it just a few yards to the north of the concrete posts according to the Ordnance Survey map that I have:-

The concrete posts denote where a farmer’s track crosses the CLP (although on the right-hand side it is clearly out of use – note the fencing) and I think the path should cross it more or less where the large tree is.

I’ve raised the matter with West Lancashire Borough Council’s Footpaths Officer to see if they can shine any light on the matter.

If any local walkers or indeed Maghull Ramblers can assist with this mystery please do so…..

* The starting/finishing point which I refer to used to be through Upper Gore Farm but that was redeveloped for housing some years ago and it’s now called Mercer Court.

Click on the photo to enlarge it