Travelling in the north is no fun what so ever!

If only our northern Motorways were all free flowing as the M58 was when this shot was taken.

I’ve commented often about the parlous state of our railways here up north. Probably with the exception of Merseyrail they are a right old mess, but what about our roads?

If my two recent experiences on Motorways across the north is anything to go by they are probably in a worse state than our railways and that takes some believing.

Lydiate to Chesterfield via the M62 and M1 last Sunday – 5 hours! OK a couple of stops along the way for about 30 mins in total but I used to be able to that journey in 3hrs easily with a similar stop off.

Chesterfield to Lydiate via M1 (no forget that) Buxton, Knutsford, M6, M62, M57 – also 5 hours! This time with about 50 mins stopping.

On the way there we sat, I kid you not, for 2hrs and 20mins between Rochdale and Saddleworth going nowhere with the Motorway supposedly closed. Then it cleared and no one had any idea what it had all been about.

On the way back the M1 was backed up from Junction 30 northwards so we had to double back a couple of junctions to go across country through the Peak District.

And to think four and half hours or so to do just around 100 miles. If we continue to travel like this we will grind our economy to a halt even without the ‘help’ of Brexit! Very definitely it’s Northern Poorhouse not Northern Powerhouse:-(((

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

Maghull – Sefton takes action at Green Lane over 11 years of car sales

Well this has been one very, very long saga indeed but at last Sefton Council has taken what looks to be effective action.

I think my first involvement in this issue will go back to around 2007 when a Liverpool Road South resident contacted me in what was my Sefton Councillor capacity back in those days. The complaint was that the ‘Hammer Head’ at the end of Green Lane was being used for commercial car sales and could I help get it stopped/addressed? I blogged about the matter back in March 2011:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2011/03/26/the-strange-story-of-the-green-lane-car-sales/

Subsequently I contacted Sefton Highways quite a number of times to see if they had come up with any solutions but I got the distinct impression we were all going around in circles. One resident even suggested to me that Knowsley Council had addressed such issues by using Anti Social Behaviour laws but Sefton were not keen on taking that route.

What it seemed to come down to was that Sefton Highways were saying that a car sales company could sell up to 2 vehicles in one location on the public highway and no one could stop it, or words to that effect. When I pointed out that there were usually 3 or 4 cars for sale on Green Lane I was told that they were being sold by two separate companies so Sefton’s hands were still tied.

I then ceased to be a Sefton Councillor for Park Ward in 2015 (and had moved from Maghull to Lydiate) and whilst the car sales were still on going the complaints, to me at least, had stopped. However, I retained an interest in the matter and discussed it with one of the present Sefton Councillors for the Ward.

Then out of the blue about 4 weeks ago Sefton Council had a contractor out in Green Lane installing parking restrictions. Well I thought to myself 11 years on and a solution has finally been found, who said that the wheels of local government turn very slowly!

Here’s a couple of photos of the end result:-

Maghull – Major crash closes A59 Northway this afternoon

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

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/two-taken-hospital-after-serious-15153479

It’s the section of Northway between the Hall Lane and Dover Road/Liverpool Road South junctions and the accident seems to have been on the southbound carriageway.

It seems that the Police were chasing a stolen car just before it was involved in the crash. The vehicle was travelling on the wrong side of the road. The driver of the stolen car ran from the scene but was arrested I understand.

We can only hope that the seriously injured person pulls through.

Southport – Crescent Road level crossing

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

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

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/driver-forced-emergency-stop-train-15147261

Quote from the article – ‘A Merseyrail driver was forced to carry out an emergency stop on a train in a terrifying near miss when three people stood in the path of the oncoming train.

The driver of Merseyrail’s Hunts Cross to Southport service reported the “harrowing” incident shortly after 4.30pm on August 31.

As the service was passing through Birkdale, three people appeared from behind a passing train going in the other direction on the opposite track.’

Wow how stupid can people be?!

With thanks to the Liverpool Echo for using my photo in this article.