So is Skem’ to get linked to Merseyrail? It’s still a wait and see

The old Skelmersdale Station – now long gone in the name of 1960’s progress!

The Liverpool Echo has the latest in what is clearly going to be a very long saga with at present an uncertain outcome – see link below:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/skelmersdale-could-finally-merseyrail-station-17549470

News on those new Merseyrail trains

A mock-up of a Class 777 Stadler EMU as displayed in Birkenhead a while back

Rail Color News has an article about the soon to be delivered first new train for the Merseyrail network – see link below:-

railcolornews.com/2020/01/06/uk-merseyrail-no-003-including-detrainment-door/

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

Ormskirk – Preston Line – Turn it over to Merseyrail

Ormskirk’s Station where Merseyrail and Norther trains meet.

As the painful (for passengers) demise of Northern Rail has all but been announced by Government is it not time to take the opportunity to take one of the UK’s most poorly operated lines out of the Northern Franchise and hand it to a rail operator which regularly tops the league table for reliability and performance – Merseyrail.

Let’s look at the advantages of doing that:-

* Gaining reliable trains on a line which has suffered so much from unreliable trains in recent years
* Being able to travel from Liverpool to Preston without having to change trains in Ormskirk
* Get the frequency of trains up from just 1 per hour north of Ormskirk (when they actually run) and bring in much needed Sunday services too

Disadvantages:-

* Er I can’t think of any
* Er I can’t think of any
* Er I can’t think of any

Ormskirk Station – The train in the foreground is Preston bound (when it’s not being replaced by a bus). The one behind it is Liverpool bound.

Let’s stop mucking about and do the most sensible and logical thing to bring back the Liverpool – Preston rail corridor as one whole operation rather than having Ormskirk as the muddle in the middle. Everyone would win from such a move

Northern finally hit the buffers but it’s only the beginning of the end of poor services

The Liverpool Echo has the article on its website – see link below:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/northern-rail-passengers-thank-god-17505478

Well the rather too obvious comment is why has it taken so long with services having been awful for far too long? Remember the Ormskirk – Preston Line being without trains at all for weeks on end in 2018?

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

But, and it’s a big but, it would be unwise to think that the day after Northern are shown the door that things will improve much as they won’t. The failings of the UK rail industry are widespread and passengers face a long wait until things get better. Government stopping electrification schemes where new electric rolling stock had already been ordered comes to mind. Network Rail being unable to complete projects on time is another. Both of these failures will have impacted upon Northern and made their operations more difficult.

A Northern Class 158 DMU at York Station

However, the message I’ve noted so many times is the perceived lack of a customer focus by Northern. Passengers being let down by trains that they only find are not running a minute or two before the train is due to depart. Lack of information at stations when train running is disrupted. Unwillingness to get get passengers to their destination when trains aren’t running for whatever reason. Trains being terminated well before their advertised destination – such as trains running to Southport being terminated at Wigan.

The deliberately fragmented nature of our railways is also a big issue that we should not forget, so this is only potentially the beginning of the end for long suffering passengers. Sacking Northern is just a start but a welcome one……

Liverpool – 1957 – A brouchure from when the City’s last tramcar ran

This 40 page illustrated booklet was printed by Tinlings of Liverpool a well known printing company of the day.

I was lucky recently to pick up a copy of ‘The First Sixty Years’ booklet which describes itself as ‘A pictorial record of the Liverpool Corporation Passenger Transport undertaking issued on the occasion of the last tramcar running in Liverpool on the 14th September 1957’

It’s a fascinating read and is well illustrated with photos of the trams, buses and indeed the people who worked for the Corporation’s Passenger Transport Department up until that date. Now, of course, passenger transportation in Liverpool is a Merseyside County-wide/City Region operation run by Merseytravel.

Liverpool’s last tram as depicted on a postcard *

I was interested to see the illustration below from the booklet of a tramcar that ran from Aintree to Aigburth until the 1930’s:-

What’s really good news is that two former Liverpool Corporation trams are alive and very well. One is easily accessed at Wirral Transport Museum in Birkenhead (it’s known as a ‘Baby Grand’) and the other (Liverpool Streamline Tram 869) is at the National Tramway Museum in Crich, Derbyshire. Both are in working order having been fully restored and the one at Wirral Transport Museum (Taylor Street Birkenhead) is regularly out on the track to and from Woodside Ferry Terminal on Museum open days.

‘Baby Grand’ Tramcar 245 at Woodside Ferry Terminal.

Liverpool Tram 869 at Crich Tramway Village, Derbyshire.

* The tramcar was bought by the Seashore Trolley Museum of Kennebunkport, Maine, U.S. and shipped via Boston, Massachusetts in 1958. As of 2017, it was at the back of a shed at the Museum, and in poor condition. – source Wikipedia

Lydiate (and Maghull) – Primary NHS services – This one keeps doing the rounds with sadly little if any progress

The last Lydiate Parish Council meeting was attended by the Director of Place – North Southport & Formby Clinical Commissioning Group South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group and if that title has not made you turn away from this posting already (have you ever seen a job title so long?) then please read on.

As a bit of context the Director told us there were 30 GP practices in South Sefton and she was keen to promote the new 7-Day Access Service. I’ve provided a link to that service below:-

mysefton.co.uk/2018/10/04/people-in-sefton-now-have-access-to-primary-care-services-7-days-a-week/

This service may be an important break-through as the reason we Lydiate Parish Councillors had asked to see a representative of the local NHS was due to us being aware of the difficulty many locals have booking GP appointments. Have a read of the link above as it may well be of assistance.

We made various points to the Director such as:-

* There are no GP facilities in Lydiate at all – everyone has to travel to a GP practice in Maghull.
* The NHS Drop-In facility at Litherland Town Hall is inaccessible to Lydiate folk who do not have access to a car.
* There are some local concerns about the long waiting times for blood tests at Maghull Health Center.
* The need for Maghull Health Center to be enlarged/rebuilt to offer a greater range of NHS services.

Our points were noted and there was a promise to raise them within the appropriate NHS circles and to be honest I found the Director both approachable and interested in our concerns. We will see what flows from us raising them.

But of course I had to raise with the Director that many of the concerns we were flagging up now have years of history attached to them and after the meeting I went back to look at my previous postings about NHS facilities (or the lack of them) locally.

Going back to the days of the former South Sefton Primary Care Trust (abolished some years ago in another of the NHS reorganisations so loved by politicians in Westminster) there has been a consistent message that the East Parishes part of Sefton Borough is not well served in terms of access to primary NHS facilities. And two local projects illustrate how hopes have been raised only to be dashed due to NHS pull-outs. Firstly, there’s Meadows Leisure Center, which was originally planned to have NHS facilities within it. Indeed, the idea was to be able to have GP’s working in the building who could refer patients directly to facilities within the same building where exercise was the prescription. The innovative plan fell when the NHS pulled out and the space it was to occupy was then taken up by Maghull Library moving into it. Then there was Lydiate Village Centre where the plan was to have some NHS facilities delivered from it but, yes you’ve guessed the NHS pulled out so the new community building went ahead without them.

Both the projects above were being planned and indeed built some 10 or more years ago and still there’s been no progress and it’s nearly 2020! But if ever there was a project involving the NHS which failed to deliver it was and presently still is the lack of movement to rebuild Maghull Health Center.

I recall like it was only yesterday (it was also about 10 years ago) when I was a Sefton Borough Councillor and had been chasing the the Primary Care Trust for longer than I wish to recall to get the Health Center rebuilt and for it to have an NHS Walk-In facility too. And then one day I got a message from a senior Sefton Council officer who had been helping me lead the campaign and I was told that the NHS had allocated the money and we had a green light. Well, jubilation initially (I saw plans to remodel the site), but as soon as I made this information public the NHS ran for hills, denied everything and blamed me for raising expectations! Never have I felt so let down and some 10 years on we still have not moved an inch. Call me an old cynic but you’ll understand if I have a hugely sceptical eye for NHS facility planners who have to date let Maghull and Lydiate down badly.

However, I remain optimistic despite the bruising I’ve had from the NHS locally because we all know that Maghull Health Centre is beyond capacity, that it fails to deliver all that we and indeed the NHS desires and only a new building can hope to rectify this situation. And did I detect a note of optimism from the Director of Place on this front? I hope I did……