Ormskirk – Preston Trains an update on a line that’s struggled to deliver decent service levels for a very long time now

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.

Along with many railway routes across the Northern Rail franchise the Ormskirk – Preston Line has suffered some very poor levels of performance for a long time now. Indeed, whilst you may be forgiven for thinking the melt-down that is Northern Rail started when the May 2018 was brought in the reality is that the rot set in well before that on this line. Cancellations and the dreaded rail replacement buses have been the norm for much longer than that sadly.

OPSTA*, the local volunteer rail campaign group, have been trying to hold Northern Rail’s feet to the fire so to speak in an attempt to push them to address all the many problems that have beset the line and here is the latest from them:-

They have been pressing Northern on why the service has been so abysmal in recent weeks and what steps they are taking to improve.

In response Northern stated that in the last 4 weeks the majority of cancellations were down to infrastructure failure** with 40% attributable to unavailability of traincrew or a train unit. Northern has claimed actions are being taken to bring about an improved service.

From Monday (17th) a new traincrew roster/link comes into effect and this has been designed to optimise performance and minimise all traincrew related cancellations for all Lancashire routes. We will of course be monitoring closely as ever.

OPSTA are looking for response and feedback on other matters raised with Northern but one thing seems clear, the final bus replacement service (11.26 Preston departure) may not be reverted to train before December.

OPSTA will continue to pursue the issues and concerns over replacement bus services, last minute cancellations and lack of revenue protection/ticket selling.

With thanks to Alan for the lead to this posting

* Ormskirk, Preston & Southport Travellers Association is a rail campaign group made up of volunteers who are dedicated to improved train services on the Ormskirk – Preston and Southport – Wigan – Manchester lines operated by Northern Rail

** for ‘infrastructure failure’ read Network Rail as they are responsible for the track, signaling etc. on which the trains run. The response would seem to indicate that Northern feel that the majority of problems are out of their control.

Transport For the North (TFN) make bold statements on rail but will anything much actually happen?

A Northern Class 158 DMU at York Station

The article is on Transport for the North’s web site – see link below:-

transportforthenorth.com/transport-north-board-takes-decisive-action-future-norths-railways/

A Transpennie Express Class 185 DMU leaving Liverpool Lime Street Station

And why do I continue to hold a skeptical line? Keolis have recently announced that the Liverpool – Chester via Frodsham service, due to start in December, will not now appear until May 2019. This is due, I understand, to “rolling stock availability issues”. Keolis take over the franchise from Arriva Trains Wales (which will run this new service) next month.

With thanks to OPSTA for the lead to this posting

What happens to Merseyside’s rubbish that can’t be recycled?

All lined up – Merseyside’s waste packed into containers for a ride to the north east.

Well it’s sent to Kirkby (Knowsley Freight Terminal to be precise) where it’s loaded into containers, put on the 2 trains that leave each day and taken to the north east of England to be burned.

The destination is a power station called Wilton which uses the waste to generate electricity. Wikipedia has a page on the power station – look for ‘Wilton 11’ down the page for comment about Merseyside’s waste:-

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilton_power_stations

A double-headed (2 loco) train departs Knowsley Freight Terminal on its way to Wilton Power Station.

Waste-to-energy (WtE) or energy-from-waste (EfW) is the process of generating energy in the form of electricity and/or heat from the primary treatment of waste, or the processing of waste into a fuel source. WtE is a form of energy recovery. Most WtE processes generate electricity.

Landfill is now a very expensive and an environmentally dubious process although it is hugely more regulated than it used to be when rubbish was literally tipped into a hole in the ground with little if any thought as to the consequences of such tipping.

I recall as a child living in Maghull the tipping that was once done on Sefton Meadows during the 1960’s and 1970’s on land north and south of Sefton Lane/Bridges Lane. The southern tipping land is now forested and called Jubilee Woods and as a youngster at Ormonde High School cross country runs took you on a public footpath right through the tipping land – the smells were appalling. That same footpath is still there but walking it now you would never realise what’s under your feet.

Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority set up and negotiated the contract to send Merseyside’s non-recyclable waste to Wilton.

Class 66 diesel locomotives 66040 and 66145 leaving Knowsley Freight Terminal on 24th August 2018 with another trainload of Merseyside’s waste.

Click on any of the photos to enlarge them

The 2nd photo is amongst my Flickr shots at:-

www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

Merseytravel/Merseyrail/Liverpool City Region V RMT train guards dispute ended BUT…….

A 507/508 EMU Merseyrail unit at Crescent Road level crossing – Birkdale, Southport.

So the RMT guards dispute is finally over and the near end result seems to be about the best that could have been hoped for by the RMT trade union and indeed the travelling public who backed them in their quest to have a 2nd member of staff on every Merseyrail Train when the new Stadler trains are introduced.

BUT, and its a big but, of course the new train fleet ordered by Merseytravel (the Transport Committee of the Liverpool City Region) was the cause of the dispute and I’m surprised that other commentators don’t seem to have grasped that pertinent point i.e. that Merseyrail were as much the victims of the political decision to have only a Driver Only Operation as the RMT trade union.

I do wonder whether behind the scenes the owners of the Merseyrail franchise (Serco and Abellio) had signaled (no railway pun intended here) that they had had a gut full of being the fall-guys for this dispute?

Maghull’s RBS branch to bite the dust

The Liverpool Echo has the story on its web site – see link below:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/business/three-merseyside-rbs-branches-close-15114450

I’ve covered the demise of the RBS Maghull branch previously. My blog posting of August 2017 refers – see link below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/08/13/maghull-rbs-here-to-help-2-days-per-week/

What’s surprised me about the latest announcement that the RBS is going to pull out of Maghull completely is that only a few weeks ago I had need to go into their Ormskirk Branch, indeed it was just after the previous list of RBS branches to close had come out. I recall asking the person serving me how they were going to be affected by the Ormskirk Branch closing and if I recall correctly the answer was something like we will move to the Maghull or Burscough Branches. The Maghull & Burscough Branches are now sadly on the updated and lengthened list of RBS banks to close of course.

The other matter that comes to mind is that Nat West and RBS are in effect the same organisation. Maghull has already lost its Nat West Branch, so it’s a complete pull out by the bank.

I wonder if the cash machine on the side of the Maghull RBS branch will stay when the bank goes? I know it is run by a different company, as I think most former RBS cash machines have been for a while now but the former RBS Branch in Ainsdale still has a working one. Just a thought.

Second member of staff to be on all new Merseyrail trains as RMT win long running battle

A new Stadler Merseyrail train artist impression

The Liverpool Echo has the story on its web site – see link below:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/business/merseyrail-abandons-driver-only-trains-15096827

A dispute started by politicians has been won by the trade union they took on and eventually lost to.

Whilst Merseyrail, the train operator, was in effect dumped on and made to take on the RMT by Merseytravel (the Transport Committee of the Liverpool City Region) the real battle was always with the politicians of the Liverpool City Region. The fact is the politicians lost because they never had the backing of the travelling public who clearly wanted a second person on each and every Merseyrail train.

RMT Trade union’s ‘Keep the Guards Campaign’ 1, leading Merseyside politicians Nil. Oh yes and it was our local Labour political leaders whom the RMT took on and beat.

With thanks to Keith Page and Roy Connell for the lead to this posting.