Seaforth – Peel’s new river berth construction moves forward BUT…..

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/business/watch-construction-work-300m-liverpool2-9482897

The present Seaforth Docks and hinterland

The present Seaforth Docks and hinterland

The Liverpool Echo has the story of the construction – see link above.

BUT, what is happening with regard to how goods are going to get to and from the port when the new river berth has been constructed and is in use? The Echo article makes reference to transhipment down the Manchester Ship Canal but that is not where all the addition freight is going to go.

Sefton Council, The Highways Agency, Network Rail and Liverpool City Council have been ‘looking into this’ for years yet we know precious little about the proposed solutions that are actually going to be proposed. Yes there’s been a lot of talk and speculation but real hard facts on which residents living near to the port and along the A5036 corridor to Switch Island can be fully consulted upon is hard to find indeed.

Is the old Aintree – Bootle freight railway line, which has been mothballed for years, going to be opened up again?

Do the Council really want to drive a new road down the Rimrose Valley Country Park?

What are the noise and air pollution consequences going to be of hundreds of additional diesel powered lorries thundering through Seaforth, Litherland and Netherton?

Is it not about time all this was debated in the open so that we all know what’s going on?

A5036 – Dunningsbridge Road – A road leading to delays

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/liverpool-road-named-one-britains-8650080#ICID=sharebar_email

The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above.

It is interesting to see that Dunningsbridge Road is now officially classified as a ‘delay road’ something that regular users of it will not need to be told.

BUT with Seaforth Docks set to expand with a new river berth taking Post Panamax size ships the situation can only get worse!

Supposedly, in non-smoke filled rooms, Sefton Council, the Highways Agency, Network Rail etc. are beavering away at solutions but little is known of these deliberations. It’s about time the powers that be put their proposed solutions before us don’t you think?

Switch Island – Seaforth Docks road link – Many questions need to be answered

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/mersey-docks-set-motorway-link-8202582

The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above – but the quote from that article below does not really take us any further forward.

‘Funding has been secured to upgrade the A5036 Princess Way – through Seaforth and Litherland – which links Liverpool’s ports to the motorway network.

This upgrade was announced last summer as part of the Liverpool Local Growth Deal.’

This has been a subject that Sefton Council, in particular, has not been at all keen to talk about. Indeed, getting behind this story to gain some detail over recent months has been like pulling teeth.

So now the cat is completely out of the bag can we please be told how this upgrade of the A5036 is to proposed to be achieved and the environmental and community impacts of such proposals? It is no use doing deals behind closed doors just to impose an already agreed solution on South and East Sefton’s communities

Diesel engine pollution – Find a solution before Bootle becomes a particulates black spot!

www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/apr/29/diesel-engine-pollution-premature-deaths-costs-nhs-billions

The Guardian has the story.

It is precisely this sort of concern that I have about the management of transport access to the enlarged Seaforth Docks in Bootle. My postings of 24th April and 2nd May provide more background to this issue.

I don’t think anyone wants to stop the economic benefits of the expansion of the docks in Bootle but if the transport corridor (A5036 – Dunnings Bridge Road, Church Road, Princess Way) from Switch Island to the docks is going to become a sea of lorries churning out diesel fums and particulates then some serious thinking needs doing now. The consequences on the health of those living close to congested transport corridors has to be solved before the lorries start thundering through the southern part of Sefton.

Rail transport is, of course, part of the solution but not via diesel powered locomotives pulling heavy container trains up the steep inclines from the docks without the particulates they emit being safely managed. Electrification of the rail route would be the sensible way forward.

North Mersey Branch Railway – Will it ever re-open?

Over the past 20 years or so Merseytravel, see my previous posts, have oft spoken about reopening this branch which runs from Aintree Station on the Liverpool – Ormskirk Line to join the Liverpool – Southport Line just north of Bootle New Strand Station.

It was once a passenger and goods line which was 3rd rail electrified and there were stations at Ford and Linacre Road. Indeed, it served a wider purpose as at the Aintree end it originally went through to Fazakerley to join the Liverpool – Kirkby Line and there was an additional station called Aintree Racecourse. At the western end it served Gladstone Dock and connected with Seaforth Sands Station of the Liverpool Overhead Railway. This final connection enabled Overhead Railway trains to reach Aintree for the Grand National meeting.

The line originally opened in August 1866 with Ford & Linacre Road stations opening in 1906 and closing in April 1951

Below are a couple of recent photos of the line as it is now. Both were taken from the Hawthorne Road over-bridge looking west and east respectively.

rsz_north_mersey_branch_looking_west_from_hawthorne_rd_bootle

rsz_north_mersey_branch_looking_east_from_hawthorne_rd_bootle

The link below may be of interest to readers:-

www.disused-stations.org.uk/f/ford/

But the reason I raise this matter now is that if there is to be a significant new rail connection with the enlarged docks at Seaforth (see my posting of 25th April 2014) then this mothballed railway is potentially a part of the solution.

The photos above are amongst my Flickr shots at:-
www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

Expansion of Port of Liverpool – But what about the access?

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-27119412

The BBC has this latest story about the expansion of the Port of Liverpool but the big and very much unanswered question out there is what is to be done about transporting all the extra goods back and forth between the Port and the road and rail network.

This has been a big concern for many years as the A5036 from Switch Island to the Port clearly struggles for capacity now. Of course, the road is also a commuter route into Bootle and Liverpool so at times this regionally important access road, which is the only ‘A’ road in Sefton still under the control of the Highways Agency, is very congested.

Oddly, however, the rail link into Seaforth Container Terminal seems to be running well below its capacity with few trains using it to take containers to and from the Port. I am told this is associated with access charges to the rail terminal and the fact that it is more cost effective for rail freight to use the Garston rail facility in the south of Liverpool. Whatever the reason the effect of an underused rail container terminal at Seaforth Dock is that more containers are trucked to the Port via the already noted congested road network.

So, what is to happen when bigger ships carrying potentially vastly larger numbers of containers start to use the expanding facilities at the Port. The obvious answer is that unless the rail access and facilities are upgraded and become well used the impact will be far more trucks on Bootle’s roads. In fact, there will be more trucks on Bootle’s roads even if the rail terminal is brought up to and used to its capacity!

And associated with all this is the pollution from ships, diesel trucks and yes even diesel rail locomotives. This aspect should not be under estimated as Bootle already has much lower life expectancy levels than other parts of the Borough of Sefton.

This is a huge conundrum which Sefton Council, Peel Ports, The Highways Agency and Network Rail/rail freight operators have to address because if it is not successfully resolved the consequences will be:-

* Greater Pollution with all the health implication that brings
* More traffic congestion affecting everyone in the south of the Borough
* Bootle becoming a sea of container lorries 24 hours a day, 7 days per week

I will return to this subject in due course.