Class 769 driver training on Southport – Wigan line

A Southport bound Class 156 DMU at Burscough Bridge Station on the Southport – Wigan – Manchester Line – in 2014.

I’m indebted to Flickr user British Rail 1980s and1990’s for permission to use the photo contained in the link below to this blog posting:-

www.flickr.com/photos/britishrail1980sand1990s/49529872211

As this blog site and many, many other sources have commented on for far too long now the standard of service, the short forming of trains, cancellations etc. etc. on the Southport – Wigan – Manchester line has sadly become a part of every passengers life. But there has to be hope and the testing of bi-mode Class 769’s on the line may well be a part of that hope.

I know that OPSTA will be interested in this development as they have been championing this long neglected line, together with the Ormskirk – Preston line of course, for many years indeed.

And a nostalgic reminder of the line in happier times when the Burscough Curves were still in use – photo credit Phil Hughes:-

OPSTA keeps on pressing for the curves to be reopened and is it just possible that the powers that be could be starting to take notice? I hope so but sadly there’s been far too many false dawns over the past 30 years or more to get too optimistic. However, one day Southport and Preston will again be connected by rail I sure, I just hope I see it happen.

My thanks to Kevin Duggan for the lead to this posting

Lydiate – Haigh Crescent post & shrubs cause controversy

I posted a few days ago about work commencing in Haigh Crescent to stop vehicles gaining access to the central green via Sefton Council installing posts and shrubs. My previous post (no pun intended) is accessible via this link:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/02/05/lydiate-haigh-crescent-posts-go-up-to-try-to-make-green-safer/

Well it seems that the project to try to protect the green is not one that commands widespread support at least that’s the view I am picking up. Here’s what I know about the issue.

Last June Independent Borough Councillor Pat O’Hanlon brought up concerns about vehicles accessing the green at a Lydiate Parish Council meeting – my recollection is that the worry was vehicles on the green when children were playing on it. The matter was subsequently raised at the July meeting when, if my understanding is correct, the Borough Councillors for Park Ward were looking to try to find a source of funding to enable them to address the problem. The next thing I knew I was cycling down Haigh Crescent and the work to install posts and shrubs had commenced a few days ago and I blogged about that work taking place.

Yesterday I had a conversation with a former Borough Councillor for Park Ward Robbie Fenton who has lived on Haigh Crescent for many years. She was clearly surprised by the works and was asking me what I knew of the project. Interestingly, she said that as far as she was aware there’d not been any consultation with the residents, at least not with the ones she’d spoken to since the works started. I can’t help but think that consultation should have taken place and wonder why it didn’t?

As Robbie said to me, in trying to solve one problem another has been created. With the carriageway being so narrow it’s often the case that passing vehicles have to mount the curb of the green to pass each other, but the posts and shrubs have narrowed that passing ability.

So there you have it and it will be interesting to see if things settle down/work out or whether there will have to be a rethink by Sefton Council.

HS2 – It was always going to get the green light

Class 66 Diesel Locos at Seaforth Container Terminal

I’ve been amused by all the chatter about the potential for government to stop HS2 in its tracks when the reality was they were never going to do that.

Yes I know, they held a review of it and made a lot of noise about cost but that was to keep the issue off the political agenda surrounding the General Election. The Tories wanted to be seen to have a foot in the camp of those who oppose HS2. You could say it was cynical political manipulation as that’s what I call it.

HS2 and the associated new line from Liverpool across the north are vital if we want decent passenger and freight carrying railways with capacity because there’s precious little capacity left in the present rail network.

Take Liverpool and it’s expanding port. One of the big issues is that there’s no capacity to get freight to and from that port and it’s because of pretty much the same reason that passenger services east of Liverpool are in a mess. There’s no capacity for the number of trains needed to be run, simple as that.

So do I celebrate High Speed Rail and the associated east west line across the north? Yes I do because it’s a common sense decision that had to be made. My only reservation in this daft process was that government may still be in Brexit mode i.e. doing things without taking account of facts, but maybe they’ve got enough of promoting fantasy land on their plate for now so they gave in to the experts who they studiously ignored over Brexit.

Now we need investment in other lines in the north such as:-

* Ormskirk – Preston:- just hand it over to Merseyrail so they can run trains right through to Preston
* Southport – Wigan- Manchester:- Get it back to being a decent reliable service as it was until the 1960’s
* Burscough Curves:- Reinstate them so there can be trains between Southport and Preston and Ormskirk and Southport

The Burscough Curves are in West Lancashire. This historic shot of them is from when they were in place, in 1960’s.

Cycling Jacket – A new way to communicate with vehicle drivers?

Me in my cycling gear

The BBC has the article on its website – see link below

www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/51392314

This is genuinely interesting but the biggest problem faced by cyclists is vehicles overtaking them too close. The cycling fraternity is presently lobbying government to have the next edition of the Highway Code* amended so instead of it saying ‘leave as much room as possible’ or words to that effect it becomes something like ‘leave 1.5m where possible when overtaking a cyclist’. I’ve blogged about this previously and here’s a link to that posting:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/01/08/cycling-bad-drivers-poor-dog-owners/

My point being that if this jacket could indicate the 1.5m to vehicles approaching a cyclist from behind it would be of great help. Just a road safety thought.

* Rule 163 of the Highway Code states that when passing cyclists, drivers should give “as much room as you would when overtaking a car”. Cycling UK is calling for the code to include guidance on a minimum distance to give when overtaking, suggesting a minimum of 1.5m when travelling under 30mph and 2m over 30mph.

Lydiate – Haigh Crescent – Posts go up to try to make green safer

A while back we had a discussion at a Lydiate Parish Council meeting about the dangers of vehicles on the green in the middle of Haigh Crescent when children are playing there.

We discussed, together with the Park Ward Sefton Councillors, what could be done to make the green safer and putting in posts to restrict vehicle access was seen to be the best way forward if the money could be found to get the work done. Well the money has been found as the works are ongoing today:-

Port of Liverpool and Brexit – Some interesting questions & big challenges

Stena Precision at Birkenhead *

The BBC has the article on its website – see link below:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-51329176

The Mersey – Looking from Bootle over the River to the Wirral

Of course, if the Port of Liverpool succeeds in gaining more trade the consequences swing back to that very knotty problem of land transport access to the Port, the over-capacity of the A5036 (Port to Switch Island road link), the lack of capacity of the rail link to the port (plus poor/limited regional rail capacity) and the new road proposed to be built through Rimrose Valley Country Park.

Rimrose Valley Country Park in the foreground and the Port cranes in the background.