£6.5m! loss – I said there were going to be more revelations to come from Mersetravel

rsz_photo0223

http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/liverpool-news/regional-news/2013/05/16/merseytravel-wastes-6-5m-of-taxpayer-s-money-on-smartcard-company-99623-33336056/2/

Please cut and paste the above link to read the story that the Liverpool Daily Post has. One wonders where this will end and who will be carrying the can for such huge losses of public money.

The Labour Party have a lot of questions to answer me thinks.

Poorly performing railway companies and a poor experience at M&S Warrington.

Last Saturday Sheila said let’s go to that huge M&S next to IKEA so off we went. It was of course heaving but we wanted a coffee and a bite to eat.

In that particular M&S there are two cafes, one of the usual type which had a queue longer than you could shake a stick at, so that was a non-runner. The other named ‘Food on the Move’ was what must be the most inappropriately named café facility you could dream up. No big queue but the order took for ever and the staff looked very stressed to me – not a ‘food on the move’ experience more a ‘stay and wait a good while’. And this takes me to my related story about railway companies.

You see the wait was so long I went to buy a newspaper for something to do. It was the ‘I’ and because I am nuts about railways I found the Simon Calder article on page 41 very interesting if rather frustrating. Suffice to say it was all about a First Great Western service that got stuck going nowhere for a very long time with passengers (note I do not call them customers as they probably had little choice but to use the service) being seemingly treated poorly – lack of information and a far too slow reaction to the broken down train.

And the point of this little rant? Well in M&S you only have to be in the queue to pay for something for a couple of minutes and the person serving you will apologise to you for your wait (they must be told to be this) even if you have not noticeably had one! But no one apologised for our long wait in their café and I wonder if management realised that their staff seemed very stretched indeed. With railway companies, some have got quite good these days in explaining delays, break-downs etc. but others, it seems, just can’t get their heads around why keeping folks informed is so important. What a way to run a railway as someone once said.

Switch Island – Thornton Relief Road – MP thinks he had a hand in it getting the green light! NO Bill, it was the Parish Council and people of Thornton

Well I have heard it all now; Bill Esterson thinks he got the road going again when it was looking like it was not going to happen. Where he gets that idea from beats me.

The new road has never been in any serious doubt what so ever since the Coalition Government gave it the green light following Labour, when they were in government, giving it no more than an amber light. Indeed, I remember only too well the Transport Minister coming to Switch Island to confirm the Coalition was giving it the go ahead. Mr Esterson was not at that event.

But the real heroes of this campaign are not MP’s or even Borough Councillors, they are the people of Thornton and their Parish Council. It was Thornton folk who resurrected the campaign around the turn of the last Century when they organised a mass protest/march to wake up a then sleeping Sefton Council that thought it could never get the road built. I was on that march and a great day it was too; the start of what was to be a successful last push after years and years of the project going nowhere.

So let us celebrate for sure but as for the MP trying to give the impression that the project was in the balance and that he helped to kick start it again! Give me strength…..

Red Lion Bridge, Maghull & drivers with a death wish!

Not so long ago I was approached by a Maghull chap with a good idea. He told me that this road bridge over the Leeds Liverpool Canal suffered from southbound traffic coming over the ‘blind’ bridge in the middle of the road. He further suggested that the Council could address the situation by changing the road markings.

Why I had not thought of this myself I don’t know but what a good idea. The Council agreed and the road markings were changed to try to push the southbound drivers to stay on their own side of the carriageway. I blogged about this when the work was done last year.

Then a couple of days ago I watched as some daft beggar travelling southwards took the corner, that is just before the bridge, so badly that he was right over on the northbound carriageway as he went over the bridge. Yes, you have guessed it; there was a large lorry coming the other way that he nearly drove into and under. What this chap was doing other than trying to commit suicide I can’t possibly guess but not only did he prove why the road markings were needed but that some drivers simply have no idea how dangerous they are to themselves and everyone else on the road!

But it must have been National Bad Driver Day because as I was dropping Sheila off at Meadows Leisure Centre some nut was driving the wrong way around the one way road out side the building and doing so at speed!

Parking – Maghull Square Shopping Centre

A broken parking ticket machine in the Leighton Ave car park on 23rd February

A broken parking ticket machine in the Leighton Ave car park on 23rd February

Parking at Maghull Square has been a muddle in recent times. First Sefton Council did not enforce its own parking regulations, and then it passed responsibility for its Maghull car parks over to a private company. Charges then came in which may have had a detrimental effect on some shops.

We Lib Dems said that this was all going to go wrong and it has. We said giving drivers just 30 minutes free parking would not be enough and so it has proved.

Now we are told that free parking is to be increased to an hour but just in one of the 3 car parks – Leighton Avenue. However, the photo above shows that last Saturday the ticket machine (the only one serving this large car park) was broken. This then leads to another problem which I discussed with a resident when I was up at Central Square with Simon Hughes MP. I was looking to get a free 30min ticket dispensed (the machine had not been updated to allow 1 hr of free parking) as was the lady I was talking to but with the machine bust and no alternative machine for that car park being available what do you do? Do you take a chance and hope the private traffic wardens understand or do you not take the chance and take your custom elsewhere? Clearly, some folks will not want to take the chance so even when the ticket machines are not working, which seems a regular thing, the effect is to force folk away from the Central Square shops.

Why was no one at at our Labour run Council listening when residents and Lib Dem councillors raised such concerns in the first place?

More passengers die on the roads in six hours than have died on Britain’s railways in the last six years

I was taken with this media release which I recently picked up on and it took me back to one episode of the first series of that BBC programme called Great Railway Journeys of the World. The episode was called Coast to Coast and it followed Ludovic Kennedy as he crossed America by train in around 1980. It was probably the best programme from the original series and at one point Kennedy is talking to an aged railway man from America who gave a similar statistic to the one in this media release from Railfuture. Or the other way of saying it is ‘don’t get on the safe old train get in a car and kill yourself’!

Rail campaigners are praising an astonishing run of safety on Britain’s railways. Saturday the 23rd February will mark the sixth year in a row without a single passenger fatality in the UK.

“We congratulate the railway industry and its staff for continuing to run a safe railway for passengers” said Bruce Williamson of the group Railfuture. “There have only been two fatal accidents in the last ten years, the Grayrigg derailment in 2007 in which one person died, and at Ufton Nervet in 2004. That one was caused by a suicidal motorist who parked his car on a level crossing waiting for a train to kill him – hardly the railway’s fault. In other words, in ten years the rail industry has been responsible for just one passenger fatality – an astonishing and unprecedented run of safety. Of course, one death is one too many, and there is no room for complacency, but it does illustrate how spectacularly safe rail travel is”.

“This is in contrast to the roads where more passengers die on the roads in six hours than have died on Britain’s railways in the last six years.”

“There has not been a single fatal accident caused by a train driver since Ladbroke Grove in 1999 – because of better training, tougher recruitment standards for drivers and a new track safety system installed nationwide after Ladbroke Grove.”

Notes to editors

Railfuture is the UK’s leading independent organisation campaigning for better rail services for both passengers and freight.

Railfuture’s website can be found at: http://www.railfuture.org.uk