John Pugh MP & Southport Manchester Trains

mail.google.com

Click on the Champion newspaper article to enlarge it

John Pugh MP for Southport

Well said John, this is of course a vital part of giving Southport a healthy economic future. Without a quality rail connection to the east (to Wigan & Manchester) and indeed the north of the Town (to Preston) to match the one to the south Southport can’t develop to its true potential.

www.johnpughmp.com/mp_determined_to_keep_southport_rail_upgrades_on_track

Cut backs in rail improvements – Don’t cut in Merseyside and West Lancs as we have so far had b*gger all!

www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-33270586

The BBC has the story – see link above.

Site for the new Maghull North Railway Station.

Site for the new Maghull North Railway Station.

Tories have always been the Party of the private car, are they retuning to type?

Will the Tories take back the money for Maghull North Station which the Coalition Government promised?

Will the Skem’ project get off the ground?

As for Labour’s carping, they invested so very little in rail upgrades when in Government and have no room to moan.

OPSTA – Rail User Express article

Readers of this blog will know that I am a big supporter of our railways and in particular the campaigning activities of OPSTA our local rail lobbying group for Southport and West Lancashire. Below is an article from Rail User Express about the recent activities of OPSTA:-

opsta logo new

Ormskirk, Preston & Southport Travellers’ Association – operator continuing with improvements

OPSTA has now been involved in meetings with all three of shortlisted bidders for the Northern franchise. There are only about 14 months left to the end of the current franchise, so OPSTA finds it encouraging that Northern continues to progress initiatives and investment commitments, adding “we should see customer information systems installed at a number of our stations this year.” Also welcome is the statement that the operator will facilitate user group discussions on timetabling. A petition calling for the retention of the ticket office at Burscough Bridge has been sent to Lancashire County Council, but OPSTA fears that the Council has already made up its mind to close the facility.

The group thinks that there is much untapped demand for the Ormskirk-Preston line, currently operated by a single-car unit. They plan to conduct another full passenger count this Spring, and meanwhile the committee welcomes feedback from members using the service. Worryingly, some users have recently reported a major drop off in fare collection, and OPSTA has brought this to the operator’s attention. Some of the passengers participating in OPSTA’s recent travel surveys suggested that Twitter would be an effective way of getting the group’s message out to a wider audience. Consequently anyone can now “follow” the group on @opsta15.

Note:- OPSTA’s logo (above) shows the Southport – Wigan line (in red), the Ormskirk – Preston line (in blue) and the curved green lines represent the missing connecting lines at Burscough. The lines were taken out in the Beeching era and need to be reinstated so that Southport – Preston and Ormskirk – Southport trains can run again.

Old Ordnance Survey Map – It’s 1958 in West Lancs and it still has the railways we now want restoring to use!

Back again to that old Ordnance Survey map of Liverpool that I picked up not so long ago from a second hand bookshop on Bewdley Station – Severn Valley Railway.

This latest posting about the map concerns the area of West Lancashire around Ormskirk, Skelmersdale and Burscough. Let’s have a look at it:-

Ormskirk & Skem' 1958

Click on the map to enlarge it.

The two notable issues are the north and south Burscough curves that once connected the Southport – Wigan & Ormskirk – Preston lines and the branch line from Ormskirk to Skelmersdale and off the map St. Helens.

Firstly the Burscough curves. I have posted on this blog site many times about them and OPSTA the voluntary group who have been campaigning for them to be reconnected over many years. The advantage of reconnecting them is obvious – Southport – Preston trains would again become possible as would Ormskirk – Southport trains. In 1958 they were still in place and the track beds still are; all it needs is a little vision from local authorities (Sefton and West Lancashire) and Network Rail.

The old Skelmersdale Station - now long gone in the name of 1960's progress!

The old Skelmersdale Station – now long gone in the name of 1960’s progress!

The Skelmersdale rail connection issue is interesting as the original branch was taken out of use as Skelmersdale New Town was being constructed, indeed some of Skem’ is built on the old railway. It is hard these days to understand the mentality of building a town and deliberately not including it on the railway network but such was the thinking in the 1960’s. Now a £1b project is seriously being considered to reconnect Skem to a railway by taking a spur off the Kirkby – Wigan line into the Town. Will it happen? I don’t really know but some seem to think that it will and I certainly hope so too.

Southport – Crossens Station March 1912

Crossens Station March 1912 - Southport Preston Line

Click on the photo to enlarge it.

On the former West Lancashire Railway line from Southport to Preston and 3rd rail electrified too. Crossens is on the northern side of Southport.

A line like this would never have been shut these days; shame it did not survive the Beeching era. The alternative route for Southport – Preston trains would be/still could be via Burscough but this would need the the Burscough North Curve to be reinstated. Quite doable and the Ormskirk Preston and Southport Travellers Assn (OPSTA) is campaigning for that amongst other things. The Ormskirk – Preston line crosses over the Southport – Wigan Line at Burscough.

The photo was purchased from the National Railway Museum’s collection at York.

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