I’m indebted to Keith Page for the lead to this posting, which is a video presentation of what the new Merseyrail train maintenance depot will look like when completed. The link below refers:-
Sadly a subject I keep returning to as the troubles with the Northern Assist franchise seem to get deeper when you thought they had already reached rock bottom.
Below is a link to the Lancashire Evening Post date 6th December all about the rail chaos on the Ormskirk – Preston Line.
The lady and quoted in the article was one of the contributors to the OPSTA public meeting I attended and reported on only a few days ago. here’s a link to that previous posting:-
Chris Jackson Regional Director of Northern is quoted saying this in the LEP article:-
“Cancelling an entire route – as we had to do with the Preston to Ormskirk Line – is not a decision we take lightly, but the unusual circumstances called for extreme measures. The trains which operate the Ormskirk line were those most affected by the autumn conditions, and the route itself was also problematic. When we were unable to operate trains we did provide a reliable rail replacement service which ensured our customers on the line were still able to get where they needed to be.”
His statement raises more questions, such as:-
* So why is the Ormskirk – Preston Line more affect by autumn leaves than any other line that Northen operate?
* Why is the Ormskirk – Preston line ‘problematic’?
* I hear that the rail replacement buses were not reliable and did not stop at each station on the line – Why?
Sorry Northern you are letting travellers down in a very big way and its been going on for far too long. Just sort it or hand the franchise back, enough is enough.
A recent conversation with a Maghull resident made me aware that there are concerns that weekday afternoon 300 Arriva buses are not necessarily reliable and it made me think. Think because I have previously heard concerns being raised about the unreliability of the 300 bus on weekday afternoons. Is this a common issue? I’d like to hear from any users of the route, so please get in touch.
Coincidentally, I’ve also picked up a copy of a recent report from Mike Perkins of OPSTA (Ormskirk, Preston and Southport Travellers Association) on the sate of bus services in and around Southport and he also makes mention of the 300 route. This is what he says:-
Please click on the text above to enlarge it for reading
I understand that Mike was previously involved in managing some local bus services so he’ll know what he is talking about and I thought his comments on the 300 route were worth sharing.
Well, have a look at this chart which I gained from OPSTA (Ormskirk, Preston & Southport Travellers Assn). It shows performance on the Ormskirk – Preston Line:-
Please click on the chart to enlarge it.
This is shocking performance in anyone’s book surely. People’s jobs, livelihoods, medical appointments, schooling etc. etc. are all at risk by such appalling performance. And more to the point what on earth is the Dept. of Transport doing about this state of affairs?
Oh and as an aside, my fellow blogger Phil Holden has just posted this about train performance in Wales. It seems Northern have a rival for crap railway franchisee of the year award:-(((
One thing that Phil hints at is that the franchise operators need virtually all their rolling stock to be available to run a normal timetable. To me, the lack of spare units is a key issue here when services need enhancing or when major repair work is required on more than 1 or 2 units at a time. Running on the absolute minimum number of units is asking for trouble don’t you think?
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:-
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………
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.
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.
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.