Mersey Ferry in dock to get ship shape

A good news story from Merseytravel – I copy their press release below

The Royal Iris, one of the famous Mersey Ferries, is undergoing a major scheme of repair and refurbishment to keep it ship shape and fit for service on one of the fastest tidal rivers in the world.

The 54-year-old vessel is currently in dry dock for cleaning, the painting of the hull, mechanical works and renewal of large areas of deck timber.

This will be followed by the complete strip down and inspection of both engines – work carried out after 24,000 hours service, roughly equivalent to 100,000 nautical miles.

The work, costing £500,000, is due to be completed in January next year, when the Royal Iris will return to service operating commuter sailings, River Explorer Cruises and the ever popular Manchester Ship Canal Cruises. The Snowdrop will continue to sail across the Mersey in the meantime.

Councillor Liam Robinson, chair of Merseytravel said: “This scheme of refurbishment represents a real investment in our iconic Mersey Ferries and shows our commitment to keep our vessels in tip top condition. They are one of the most popular paid-for attractions in the region and contribute a great deal to the visitor economy.”

During the programme

• A total of 320litres of paint will be used during the maintenance – including 280 litres of paint to cover the hull.
• An oil change will be carried out, using 836 litres of oil.
• Approximately 110m² Iroko timber will be used to replace areas of the top and main deck.


The Royal Iris was built in 1959 and was originally named “Mountwood”. She was the subject of a major refit 2002 which included the replacement of main engines and all engine room ancillary equipment together with remodelling of the saloons and the addition of a fixed canopy to the aft end of the promenade deck. The vessel is currently certified by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency with a Class V Passenger Certificate, allowing her to carry passengers on cross river and River Explorer Cruises and on longer Manchester Ship Canal Cruises.

Merseytravel owns and operates the famous Mersey Ferries and associated tourism attractions; the U-Boat Story, Spaceport, the Mersey Tunnel Tour, the Beatles Story, and the Beatles Story Pier Head, which contributes more than £34 million and the equivalent of 742 full-time jobs to the region’s economy.

Sefton & Maghull Station – Cheshire Lines Southport Extension Railway


My understanding is that this photo, which is looking northwards towards Southport, was taken around 1966. I came to live on Sefton Lane, Maghull in December 1968 at the age of 10 and recall the remains of the platforms being there but the station buildings had by then been demolished.

You could not easily replicate this photo for a ‘then and now’ shot as virtually nothing looks the same now. The bridge parapets have been taken away and the void beneath them filled in so that all that is left is a mound that Sefton Lane travels over. The track bed and station site has a factory on it as the former Koters factory, that you can see behind the station buildings in the photo, was extended onto the site many years ago. Koters, a company that made wax bread wrappers, has long gone itself with the factory serving other purposes these days.

North of the old bridge the track bed is intact and is the Cheshire Lines Path, part of the Trans Pennine Trail. My old mate former Maghull councillor Roy Connell often cycles it from his new home in Ainsdale back to Maghull where he used to live.

Ormskirk – traffic congestion solved by the new Switch Island – Thornton Link Road!

This must rank as one of the oddest and most ridiculous things that I have come across in recent times.

Lancashire County Council must be having an off moment if they think Ormskirk’s traffic congestion is going to be resolved in any way by the building of the Switch Island – Thornton Link Road in Sefton. Apart from anything else this soon to be constructed new road is miles away from Ormskirk! Do they really think that folk driving to Southport will continue 2 more junctions down the M58 to Switch Island, in the opposite direct to Southport, and then go north again via this hugely circuitous route rather than go straight through Ormskirk?

As an excuse for not solving Ormskirk’s traffic congestion this must rank as bizarre at best yet an allegedly credible transport document for Lancashire is proposing just this. Below is a direct quote from LCC’s West Lancashire Highways and Transportation Masterplan Consultation Draft dated November 2013:-

‘a study commissioned into the M58 to Southport corridor has suggested that with the opening of the Thornton – Switch Island link, traffic reductions will mean that a bypass will no longer be the most cost effective way to solve Ormskirk’s congestion issues’

Can you imagine sat navs taking drivers on this 10 mile or more detour when the direct route from the M58 (Junction 3) is through Ormskirk and on via the A570 to Southport?

Chester Station Train Crash

The BBC has the story.

I have always thought it odd that train crashes get high profile media attention whilst road crashes have to be really serious for anyone to blink.

I suppose it’s because our railways are so safe and accidents so rare whilst our roads are so dangerous and accidents so frequent.

Merseytravel – Yet another revelation

The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above.

I think it’s probably fair to say that you run out of things to say about Merseytravel and it’s almost the case of shrugging the shoulders and muttering ‘Oh just another chapter in this utterly bizarre saga’.

What’s probably the biggest unanswered question though is – When are there to be consequences or are the powers that be expecting more to be revealed before they tell us who is to face such consequences?

Passenger Focus publishes new research into bus passenger views on value for money.

Passenger Focus is a national group which always looks at public transport from the users perspective. This is a recent survey they did about bus services which, lets’s face it, are generally hardly of the quality to make folks leave their cars at home!

Interestingly, Cllr. John Fillis the Transport portfolio holder for Lancashire County Council told us all at the OPSTA meeting on 31st October (which I posted about) that the whole of Lancashire would fall within a Quality Bus Contract in the foreseeable future meaning the routes, ticket prices etc. will be specified by Lancs CC.

This is what Passenger Focus says:-


We asked passengers about this as our 2013 Bus Passenger Survey showed that satisfaction with value for money ranged from 30-70 per cent – averaging at only 54 per cent. We wanted to understand what really influenced this.
The key findings are:
•passengers’ views on value for money are most influenced by getting a seat on punctual, frequent and reliable buses
•the attitude of the bus driver and the difficulties when trying to find information about timetables, routes and fares, also greatly affected passengers’ views
•young bus passengers are more reliant on buses than many other passengers and their needs for more flexibility to balance education, work and their social lives are not being met
•young passengers resent paying adult fares when they are still in education, training or low-paid work – they think that adult fares should only be charged from 18 years onwards.

Anthony Smith, Passenger Focus chief executive, said:

“Bus fares and passenger satisfaction varies widely across the country. In many places, bus fares increase by more than inflation each year. Passengers rightly expect buses to deliver them to their destination in relative comfort at the promised time.”

Please click the link below to download the report: