Merseyrail train rides with Chester

I have a four legged friend called Chester, he’s a Chocolate Labrador and it seems that, like me, he enjoys riding trains.

Chester waiting for his train at Rice Lane Station

He and I have escaped from Roy Connell, his owner, a couple of times now and spent some time riding on Merseyrail. We have travelled from Ainsdale to Maghull and more recently had a run out on the Kirkby line. It turns out that prior to my taking Chester on a train he’d never been on one! Fancy that 10 years old and never been on a train, that’ll never do.

Chester especially likes being made a fuss of and on both our train rides other passengers have obliged. I’ve also spoken to him about the Merseyrail Class 507/508 EMU’s and the fact that they are soon to be replaced by Class 777’s but he’s clearly not a fully fledged railway enthusiast just yet and is more keen to have treats and a fuss made of him.

Merseyrail Tour raising funds for Alder Hey

Merseyrail Class 508 EMU at Maghull Station

I’ve been informed that there’s a rail tour coming up on the Merseyrail network on Sunday 26th January 2020. The tour will be raising funds for Merseyrail’s charity of the year, Alder Hey Children’s charity.

The tour can be booked from the Branch Line Society (BLS) website www.branchline.uk/current-fixtures.php and is charged at £25.08 per person. This is a relatively cheap price as in previous years the BLS tour on the MR network has been charged at a higher price.

The tour involves coverage of all lines of the MR network including the stock interchange line (transfer between the Northern and Wirral line, not usually used for passenger service), Sandhills reverse sidings, arrival/departure from platform 2 at Hunts Cross and use of a number of less used platforms on the Wirral line. Full details of the tour are provided in the link above.

Depending on the progress with the introduction of the new fleet this time next year, this could be the last rail tour operated by the Class 507/508’s.

The previous tour on Merseyrail (The Branch Line Society’s Bootle Brush hauled by Class 47’s) in December 2019 prompted a number of people comment on the lack of notice of such tours taking place so here’s some notice of the up and coming one.

My thanks to Craig for the lead to this posting

A Merseyrail electric Class 507 EMU at Bootle New Strand Station.

Merseyrail – How to couple two 507/508 Units – A question I’m always being asked:-)

A Merseyrail train passes the former Maghull Signal Box @1990. The last track plan from the box is now on display as part of the Frank Hornby Trust’s exhibition area within Meadows Leisure Center – Copyright Noted HSG

For all of you out there who have pondered on how to join/couple two Class 507/508 Merseyrail EMU’s here’s an instructional video which will answer your queries:-

www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOY3lFO8XMg

A Merseyrail train at Bootle Oriel Road Station

Of course you will, having digested this useful information, have to start to ponder all over again soon as Merseyrail is updating its fleet to Stadler 777 EMU’s in the near future.

Maghull – Views of our presently closed down railway

I decided to have a good look at what Network Rail and their contractors are up to whilst the Liverpool – Ormskirk Northern Line of Merseyrail has been shut down for enabling works to take place so the stations are ready for the new class 777 Stadler EMU’s in 2020. All the photos were taken on 5th November.

The first couple of shots show the ongoing platform works at Maghull Station:-

This next shot in effect shows why the works are being done at stations across the Merseyrail network:-

If you look carefully (it may be best to click on the photo to see it enlarged) you will see that the floor of the new trains will be level with the platforms and a small gap filler will come out when the train stops at a station. This is so that people with disabilities, wheelchairs, and bikes can be wheeled straight onto the new trains without the need for station staff to meet trains with portable ramps as at present with the current 507/508 trains.

Here’s a look back at Maghull Station from Poverty Lane and a look northwards from Poverty Lane in the direction of Maghull North Station. Clearly, other works were being undertaken during the shut down such as cutting back overgrowing trees:-

We then move on to the new Maghull North Station where I think that snagging work from the previous works was taking place. There was scaffolding around the lift towers but I could not get a close look as I was advised to leave the station by a member of Merseyrail’s staff. I had wandered onto the station footbridge and had not seen any warning signs but advised to leave I was. The following photo was taken looking back at the station from the Park lane overbridge:-

And finally a look north from the Park Lane overbridge in the direction of Town Green Station. Again other works were clearly taking place in the distance during the shut down of the line:-

Click on any of the photos to enlarge them

Merseyrail – That new train fleet in more detail

The new Stadler trains (ordered by Merseytravel the Transport Committee of Liverpool City Region) which will be coming to Merseyrail in early 2020 look to be innovative and potentially class leading.

Here’s some photos from a mock-up of a Stadler train carriage so you can see how very different the new trains will look from the present rather elderly (40 years old in fact) British Rail built 507 and 508 trains:-

And you can see the mock up yourself too. Here’s where and how:-

The mock-up will be on display at the following times:

· Pacific Road, Birkenhead, CH41 1LJ: 1-14 October, Mon-Sun 8.00 to 17.30, Tues 8.00-19.30

· Liverpool Lime Street, L1 1JD: 5-18 November, Mon-Sun 7.00 to 18.30

The new trains are going to be fitted with battery packs so that they will be able to travel beyond the present electrified 3rd rail network. This brings all kinds of possibilities in terms of expanding the reach of Merseyrail to places like Burscough, Preston, Skelmersdale etc. without the need for costly electrification. Such opportunities are clearly most welcome and OPSTA* will be looking to pursue them at every turn.

With thanks to Bob for the lead to this posting.

*OPSTA – Ormskirk, Preston and Southport Travellers Association

Merseyrail – Labour-run Merseytravel Committee needs to be clear what they are looking for in terms of guards on new train fleet

A present 507/508 EMU Merseyrail unit at Crescent Road level crossing - Birkdale, Southport.

A present 507/508 EMU Merseyrail unit at Crescent Road level crossing – Birkdale, Southport.

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/merseyrail-staff-protest-over-fears-11674923

The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above

I have blogged previously about the worrying potential loss of train guards once the new fleet of Merseyrail trains is introduced and agree with the RMT union campaign to keep train guards for passenger safety reasons.

My concern all along has been that Labour-run Merseytravel have been unwilling to say whether they are specifying guards on the new trains or not and it seems they are still unwilling to come off the political fence they have chosen to sit on.

This quote from the Echo article is telling:-

But a spokeswoman for the travel body said it could not reveal whether bidders to run the service were proposing driver-only trains or not, citing commercial confidentiality laws.

Surely it was up to Merseytravel to specify that it did want the new fleet of trains with a guard facility on them then all bidders to build the trains would have included such in their bids. Why has Merseytravel seemingly left this crucial decision in the hands of the train builders to decide? This smacks, to me at least, of the Transport Committee abdicating responsibility.

The photo above is amongst my Flickr shots at:-

www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/