Merseyside’s lost railway stations that MAY come back to life

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

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/disused-railway-stations-you-could-15949230

Well, this sounds all very positive BUT Merseytravel has a long history of big aspirational railway projects that are rarely advanced. I’ve blogged about them before as the railway press has often picked up on them as being really possible and even really likely to be progressed only for nothing much to happen at all. And the evidence for this rather downbeat assessment? – my 3 postings from 2014:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2014/06/11/merseytravelmerseyrail-20-years-of-big-local-railway-ambitions-many-of-which-have-hit-the-buffers-posting-3/

Notes:-

*The link above will take you to my 3rd 2014 posting about Merseytravel’s long-standing overplaying their hand and there are links within it to postings 1 and 2 in the series.

* Maghull North Station has of course now been built and it opened in June 2018

* The Halton Curve has happened but as I write there are no regular passenger trains are using it.

* Work on progressing a rail connection into Skelmersdale is being taken forward but there are no guarantees that the project will attract the huge funding required.

* New rolling stock for Merseyrail is to be delivered in 2020.

Ormskirk’s Station where Merseyrail and Northern trains meet.

That 133 bus issue – Some clarity but questions remain

I understand that Merseytravel has told the Champion newspaper that it isn’t the case that they are reducing the service based on the publicly available tender document/service specification that is doing the rounds on this and at least one other website where a Maghull resident first spotted it.

They say that the cut-back timetable [in the service specification that I hold] was one of the options considered when the tender was put out, but it wasn’t the one taken up and that there will actually be no change to the present timetable.

They have however confirmed that a new operator (Hatton’s) will be taking on the route as of April.

So we now know that the service spec’ found by the local resident and passed to me was genuine and that it was one of the options being considered. What any additional options were, other than stay as is, of course, if there were more than two we do not know.

That Merseytravel was seriously considering a reduction in the 133 is a given as they had gone well down the planning route to the point of having a draft timetable to implement. But why consider reducing this route other than for the rather obvious reason of not enough money to spread around the publicly subsidised bus routes across Merseyside?

Was some extra funding found for the route at the last minute? Was Merseytravel aware of a negative backlash if they took the reduction plan further? Did the tenders to run the route come in lower than the price they had been expecting thereby creating the scope to keep things as they are?

I guess we are unlikely to get to know the back story to this matter but however, we got to the point of no service reduction in the 133 bus route it looks like it was a close shave but a very welcome one at that.

Oh, and by the way, the service spec’ that has not now had the timetable reduction within it implemented says that the start of the new contract is on 28th April 2019 and that it ends on 1st September 2019. Is that still the case and if it is will there be another challenge for the 133 bus route later this year?

133 Bus Route – Something odd has happened – Reduced service becomes no reduced service

I seem to have been posting quite a lot about bus issues recently. A few days ago I blogged about potential service reductions to the 133 bus route. My posting can be found via this link:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/02/24/waterloo-maghull-kirkby-133-bus-to-run-less-frequently/

Not surprisingly reactions to this news have been ones of concern from users of the bus route.

However, things have taken a surprising twist in that a fellow local councillor posted on the Official Maghull Community Page of Facebook yesterday that Merseytravel has told him that the 133 bus, although getting a new operator, the times & days will remain as they were.

This raises the question of whether the 5 page Merseytravel service specification document for the reduced service (which I hold an electronic copy of) is genuine or whether Merseytravel has actually and thankfully just had second thoughts.

In case anyone wants to see it, here is the full service specification document that I hold:-

I have taken steps to try to validate whether the document is a genuine Merseytravel one or not and will make the outcome of those enquires known. As someone who is not a conspiracy theorist, my gut tells me that Merseytravel has simply had a welcome change of heart but until we know for sure………….

Please click on the various pages of the scanned document to be able to read it.

Merseytravel – Sefton Bus Network Review 2019

An Arriva 300 bus at the Meadows bus stop, Maghull.

Merseytravel have launched a bus network review for bus routes serving Sefton Borough – see link below for details and to take part in the online survey of your views about local bus services:-

www.merseytravel.gov.uk/about-us/Pages/Sefton-Bus-Network-Review-2019.aspx

If you use local buses please take a few moments to complete the online survey or you can attend one of a couple of face to face events in Bootle Strand or Southport.

I have completed the online survey and made reference to the 31/31A buses probably being better routed to the new Maghull North Station rather than the old Maghull Station for Lydiate residents. I appreciate that this would require some route changes to the circular bus network serving Maghull & Lydiate. Also, these buses need to meet each train all day.

My thanks to Kevin Duggan for the lead to this posting

An OPSTA meeting in Croston – So are things looking brighter on the recently appalling (for cancellations) Ormskirk – Preston line

Ormskirk’s Station where Merseyrail and Norther trains meet

Croston is a lovely largish village which is somewhat isolated in public transport terms with few if any local bus services. And those that do run seem to be permanently under threat.

But what Croston does though have is a railway station on the Ormskirk – Preston line, a line that in the early 1980s was under threat of closure itself and the reason the then OPTA (Ormskirk Preston Travellers Assn) campaign group was formed. That battle was won although there were some amusing reminiscences at the meeting held last Wednesday about politician Den Dover having to leave a campaign meeting because his stance was not seen to be one that helped the then beleaguered line.

Croston Station

But as readers of this blog site will know the performance of Northern Trains on the line was in the utterly appalling category during 2018, indeed it got so bad that it made the BBC national TV news. That the BBC got hold of the story was down to OPSTA (notice the change of name to include Southport) and some very determined Croston residents. Thankfully performance has very much improved in recent weeks but OPSTA continues to monitor the on-time performance of every train and Northern know it.

A guest at the meeting was Cllr. Keith Iddon the Transport portfolio holder on Lancashire County Council. The impression he gave to the meeting was one of optimism for the Ormskirk – Preston Line. He clearly backs the idea of Merseyrail trains running through Ormskirk on to Preston, indeed if anything he came over as more optimistic about that happening than Liam Robinson (the Chair of Merseytravel) did at a similar OPSTA public forum held in Southport a few months back.

Burscough Junction Station

We pressed Keith on the need to run trains on the Ormskirk – Preston Line on Sundays whether or not the line is eventually taken over by Merseytravel – they would do that as a matter of course. He promised to take that request away and speak to Rail North about it. Rail North is in effect the northern branch of the Department for Transport.

If I recall correctly Cllr. Iddon referred to himself as someone from a truck driving background and thereby hangs an ever-present problem in Councils – their engineers are 99 times out of a hundred from a roads/highways background so they know little of the ways of the railway industry. Bearing in mind that many councils are responsible for transport in all its forms this must put them at a disadvantage, indeed they must miss opportunities because of the lack of expertise in railways. By the way, I’m not criticising Cllr. Iddon here, his working background is just as worthy as anyone else’s, I just use what he said to help illustrate a point that has long concerned me and which I witnessed when serving as a councillor on Sefton Borough Council.

Rufford Station

So are things on an upward curve for the Ormskirk – Preston Line? We can only hope so because so many passengers were left stranded day after day during Northern’s troubles, which are not at an end even now. Terrible communication issues with passengers, very poor rail replacement buses and a feeling that that Northern look upon the Rail North/DfT as their real customer who has to be satisfied rather than poor travelling public whom they let down day after day. The only way is upwards and please get the line into the Merseyrail system ASAP, it really is a no-brainer…..

Waterloo – Maghull – Kirkby 133 bus to run less frequently

The 133 bus route (currently operated by Comfy Bus) links a number of small communities (Melling Mount, Sefton Village, Lunt Village & Homer Green) with larger places such as Kirkby, Maghull (and its new North Station), Thornton and Waterloo. It’s been running for many years (probably since the withdrawal of the former Ribble buses 381 and 382 many moons ago?). But it seems things are going to change and sadly not for the better.

Merseytravel have issued a new invitation to tender for this subsidised route to be operated (Monday to Saturday) from this coming April. The 133 does not run on a Sunday, I might add

However, instead of the present 10 buses from Waterloo to Kirkby and 11 buses from Kirkby to Waterloo each day the new specification is for only 6 buses to operate Waterloo to Kirkby and 6 buses Kirkby to Waterloo. One additional service the 0743 from Kirkby will terminate at Maghull Square at 0823 and will run school term times only, so will not serve Sefton & Lunt Villages, Homer Green or Thornton at all. The very early bus (the 06.53 from Kirkby) will also not run on a Saturday.*

There can be little doubt that this reduction in frequency of the 133 bus will be a blow to regular users of it. Here’s a link to present timetable:-

bustimes.org/services/133-waterloo-maghull-knowsley-industrial-park-2

And this is the proposed timetable from April this year:-

I’m guessing that the Parish Councils along the route will have had something to say about reduction in service.

My thanks to Kevin Duggan for the lead to this posting.

Please click on the new timetable to enlarge it for reading

* Hope I’ve interpreted all the changes correctly but please shout if I have not.