Lollies Bridge looking towards Maghull – Leeds Liverpool Canal

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This is a shot of the Leeds Liverpool Canal through Lydiate looking towards Liverpool from what locals call Lollies Bridge on Southport Road. In the very far distance are the outer northern moorings of the Mersey Motorboat Club. You will have to click the photo to enlarge it and look carefully to see the moored boats.

There is no canal towpath access at Lollies Bridge, which I have often thought is most odd. However, there is a footpath that is accessed by the bridge on the opposite side to the towpath heading north only towards Lydiate Hill Bridge.

Lollies Bridge is the next bridge northwards from Pilling Lane where the access has been closed by the Canal & River Trust for many months now. Repairs are due to be undertaken in January so I am told. The goodish news is that at last the Trust has put up notices at Bells Lane (the access south of Pilling Lane) and just north of Lollies Bridge (where a footpath joins the canal towpath) making it clear that you can’t access Pilling Lane due to the closed steps leading up from the canal.

Bus lanes suspended in Liverpool? Merseytravel’s demise is clear to see

Like many people I have seen the TV/press stories about Liverpool City Council suspending bus lanes to see if it will help traffic flow better. However TV news in particular is so short (on most things) that you never get to hear the detail. So here is some detail that I picked up via Merseytravel. The notes in brackets are ones that I have added for clarity or comment purposes.

· We (Merseytravel) will work with the council and the bus operators to collect the data and information required to ensure that the analysis and assessment of the trial is robust and evidence-based.

· We (Merseytravel) continue to believe there is merit in bus lanes; they can help improve journey times and the reliability of buses, and can make the bus network more attractive.

· There may be some bus lanes that aren’t working as effectively as they could be. A trial may help pin point where the problems lay and where improvements can be made.

· We (Merseytravel) are pleased to see that Liverpool City Council has made it clear it will be encouraging public feedback on the initiative from both public transport and non-public transport users as part of the consultation.

Q&A:

1. What’s Merseytravel’s view on the bus lanes suspension?

It is a LCC (Liverpool City Council) initiative. Merseytravel will work with Liverpool and the bus operators to collect the data and information required to ensure that the analysis and assessment of the outcome of the trial is robust and evidence-based. We do believe there is merit in bus lanes- they can help improve journey times and the reliability of buses, and can make the bus network more attractive. We do fully appreciate that there may be those that aren’t working as effectively as they could, or where the lay out or signage could be improved to assist all road users. This trial may help pin point where the problems lay and where improvements can be made.

2. LCC says that data indicates that bus lanes not leading to increased usage (of buses), does Merseytravel agree?

Bus usage is a complex picture. Caution should be urged in linking any increases or decreases in bus usage directly with the provision, or not, of bus lanes. Bus lanes are just one of a range of measures that can help increase patronage. However, in most surveys bus punctuality and reliability is the top priority for passengers.

3. How has Merseytravel been working with LCC on this initiative? (Sounds to me that Merseytravel had this foisted on them!)

This is a LCC-led initiative. We will work with LCC and the bus operators during the trial period to collect the data and information required to ensure that the analysis and assessment of the outcome is robust and evidence-based.

4. What is the view of the bus operators?

This is a question you’ll need to ask them. We’ll be working with them and LCC during the trial.

5. So how will Merseytravel work to ensure that the data and information is robust and evidence-based?

The timescales are tight to get sufficient and informative baseline data before the trial commences and we have informed LCC of that (definitely had it foisted on them!). However, working with the bus operators and other key stakeholders we are working to ensure that there is information on traffic flow, journey times and the number and type of bus users before the trial starts with the mechanisms in place to collect information on the same measures during the trial period.

6. Shouldn’t bus lanes reviews be down to Merseytravel/PTEs (Passenger Transport Executives) to do?

Merseytravel’s role is generally to look at the big picture- getting people around the city region on public transport. Supporting bus usage is obviously one part of that, with bus lanes one of a number of considerations alongside wider issues such as fare structures and whether communities are being served appropriately. The local authorities have responsibility for the maintenance of highways in their area and they are therefore often best placed to identify if something is working or not locally or needs to be reviewed. We would expect to be consulted on any plans and offering advice from a strategic perspective covering considerations such as access to bus stops and their locations and bus priorities. We can assist them in making an informed decision by ensuring they have the right evidence and information.

What you can read into all this is that Merseytravel are no longer all powerful and that Liverpool City Council are now pulling its strings.

Maghull Station it’s a winner! RAIL magazine has the story

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I posted recently about Maghull Station winning the national Small Station of the Year Award and the latest edition of RAIL magazine carries a story about all the award winning stations across the Country.

I have long admired the work of the Maghull Station Volunteers because they are at the heart of transforming Maghull Station from a drab ordinary station to what has become one of national acclaim. It may be well done Merseyrail but it’s very well done Maghull Station Volunteers.

Also, have a look at this video. It’s of a Network rail Multipurpose vehicle probably on leaf or ice clearing duties running through Maghull Station:-

www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2X9MqP8mhk

Tackle transport problems east of Southport or don’t tell me that the Merseyside Joint Authority has credibility

I can’t help but return to that Joint Authority matter for the Liverpool City Region/Merseyside as the more I think about it the balmier it looks from Sefton’s and indeed West Lancashire’s situation. Indeed, it makes me angry just to think about it.

West Lancs Borough are all but shut out of the club and Sefton instead of pressing for a wider and far more logically based sub-regional authority that covered the real travel to work geography around Liverpool simply said to its southern Merseyside neighbours yes we will join your club. No fight, no hard negotiations, no championing of the diverse needs of Sefton’s communities just a forest of Labour hands (with some surprising Tory support) toeing the line of the other Merseyside Authorities. Even St Helens has succumbed as Labour’s previous Leader there had been replaced. She, Marie Rimmer, had stood out against a takeover by Liverpool (as had the Council Leader prior to her – Lib Dem Brian Spencer) but she was removed seemingly for her independent stance.

When I spoke at the recent Sefton Council meeting, which sadly agreed to the Borough joining this odd little club, I said there was nothing in the deal for the northern half of Sefton and indeed it could well be to its detriment. The economy of Southport is clearly dependent on what goes on in West Lancashire because it, with the Irish Sea, all but surrounds the Town. Development of Southport’s tourist/seaside economy needs a boost and significantly improved transport links through West Lancashire are the key to that.

So the challenge for this new Joint Authority to me is crystal clear; sort out the major road link that is needed between the M58 and Southport (in effect an Ormskirk by-pass) and significantly enhance and reconnect the Southport – Wigan and Ormskirk – Preston railway lines. If this new Merseyside Joint Authority will commit itself to solving these problems, even though they are in West Lancashire, in say a 10 year timeframe then maybe sceptics like me will have a change of heart. Until I see the Joint Authority say ‘we will solve these issues’ written in blood then don’t ask because a combination of Merseytravel, Lancashire County Council, West Lancs Borough Council and Sefton Council have singularly failed to get these two major projects off the ground since local government reorganisation in 1974!

If I have one huge regret from my time as Leader of Sefton Council it is that this east of Southport transport conundrum was not solved. I heard much sympathy, lots of warm words and many encouraging noises but at the end of the day nothing happened.

I think the people and businesses of Southport have every right to be angry at this situation and I say this despite the valiant efforts of the Town’s MP John Pugh and many of his Lib Dem councillor colleagues. Will the Joint (Liverpool centric) Authority finally sort this out; will they even care about it? Frankly, I severely doubt it and Southport will miss out once again. And please, if they do think about taking this challenge up – no more warm words PLEASE!

Maghull Station Canopy

It’s taken a while to get to the bottom of what has been going on with regard to the historic canopy over the Liverpool-bound platform of Maghull Station but the official word from Merseytravel is that “the structure is being refurbished and not replaced” and “the damaged spars in the roof are being replaced and the asphalt roofing replaced with slate.”

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Above was the scene when I snapped the propted up canopy a few weeks ago.