Merseyrail or is that Miseryrail? – Liverpool to Maghull in an hour

A Merseyrail electric unit

A Merseyrail electric unit

Yesterday’s Merseyrail problems were covered by the Liverpool Echo – see link above

Jen and I found ourselves in the middle of the later crisis when we attempted to get the 21:10 Ormskirk train home to Maghull from Liverpool Central. The journey took an hour and most of it was via a rail replacement bus service as we could only get as far as Sandhills by train.

The first we knew of the problem was a white board which seemed to have been hastily written on Central Station’s concourse. The hand writing was akin to mine so not easy to read. Jen’s heart sank and she said welcome to my world because her experiences of Merseyrail are invariably poor.

Down to the platforms we went where the platform announcements were, like all railway station announcements, indecipherable. But there was a group of Merseytravel/Merseyrail staff down there although they only seemed to respond to people asking them what was going on rather than volunteering information.

We were put on a Sandhills bound train but, before it set off, the laughing of the group of platform staff sufficiently irked a passenger who got up and shouted through the open door at them ‘I’m glad you find it funny’. With that we set off for Sandhills. Strangely though the destination sign in the carriage we were in said we were going to Liverpool Central? The IT system must have been confused?

At Sandhills there was no one on the platform, that I saw, to tell us what happened next so we followed the crowd onto the street where an Arriva bus for Kirkby was sat with few folks on it. However, there were a lot of us wanting to get to stations along the Ormskirk line. Then a bus arrived and we all piled on but again the staff present only answered questions and did not volunteer any information otherwise.

We got to Kirkdale Station where no one got off. We went to Walton Station twice! Once to drop a chap off and then we drove past it again on the other side of the road to make sure he was safe and well and to give him a wave. Well that may not have been the official reason for going past it twice but it provided a little entertainment.

We did not seem to stop at Orrell Park but did have a lovely trip around the park and ride car park at Aintree Station when there was a bus stop right outside it on the A59 which we had sailed past!

We dropped of some folk at Old Roan and set off for Maghull. We got there just as the local 231 Maghull/Lydiate circular bus was pulling out! A bus some on our bus wanted to get on. The circular bus driver must surely have worked that out so why did it take off? Indeed, having picked up our car at Maghull Station we then drove to Jen’s house only to catch up with the Cumfybus 231 circular. It was sat at a bus stop in Liverpool Road North with no one on it and stayed there for a while. We assumed it was running early so had to sit there until its advertised departure time?

Liverpool to Maghull took us an hour instead of 20 minutes by rail. Of course break-downs happen and it seems the track had given out around Walton which had to be repaired. But I now know why the words ‘rail replacement buses’ are about as frustrating as ‘an unexpected item in the bagging area’ because it was hardly well organised/communicated. To me it was more like work it out for yourself, which fortunately we did.