Well according to their Chairperson, Liam Robinson, they are.
I reported on OPSTA’s (Ormskirk, Preston & Southport Travellers assn) public meeting a few days ago which was actually held in the community room of Southport Fire Station of all places. That posting was about the utterly appalling train service, or indeed the complete lack of a train service last week, on the Ormskirk Preston Line and here’s a link back to that posting:-
Now don’t get me wrong I’m not blaming Liam Robinson in any way for Northern’s terrible performance but he listened to stories of Northern’s Failures at the meeting (he was our guest speaker) and because he has an influence on Rail North those sad stories were heard and you never know……….
I quite like Liam’s handling of transport issues on Merseyside and I feel he has been a positive influence on what to me seemed to be struggling public sector organisation before he took the chair of it. Yes, I know we live it terribly tribal party political times and I’m expected to hate anyone who is not a Lib Dem; well I don’t think in traditional British political tribal terms………
Stadler Class 777 – The new Merseyrail trains that will soon replace the Class 507/508 EMU’s
Cllr. Robinson presented his vision of how bus services could be improved in the Liverpool City Region (beyond the present Bus Alliance with Arriva and Stagecoach) and he talked in very enthusiastic terms about the Class 777 Stadler trains that Merseytravel have ordered for the Merseyrail network. Without being prompted he also made reference to the potential to extend Merseyrail Northern Line beyond Ormskirk to Burscough and even Preston although he was clear that he was not promising that it would happen. To be honest passengers on that line would welcome it being run using the Titfield Thunderbolt of Ealing Comedy fame as surely no one could run it as badly as Northern have been doing.
The other rail thing that he touched on and which is vital to expanding the Merseyrail system is the lack of capacity at Liverpool Central Station. If that issue is not seriously addressed in the near future there’s every possibility, in my view, that Merseyrail will be stuck with a bottle-neck which will impede the running of our local railway.
So yes I was pleased to sit and listen to Liam at the meeting and readers who have a liking for tribal politics will have to be disappointed with me.
The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above
I always adopt a highly sceptical view towards any politician offering something for nothing – in this case 50p child bus fares across Merseyside, but not ones requiring any public sector purse subsidy to achieve that end result.
Clearly our Labour rulers are split on this Joe Anderson pledge as the Echo article points out. It will be interesting how many more something for supposedly nothing pledges are made by those wanting to be Merseyside’s Metro Mayor.
It’s not that the end result is undesirable, far from it, but it is about a clear funding stream being identified that we can all understand. Without that (and after the election for the Metro Mayor none of us want) it could all go pear shaped as so many other politician promises have done in the past.
The Liverpool Echo and the BBC web site have the story – see links above
Liverpool Lime Street Station
Two differing takes here on some welcome rail investment news for Liverpool/Merseyside, but you do get the impression, especially from the BBC article that a lot of it, like in the Blair years, is re-announcing what has already been announced to big up the overall picture.
Site for the new Maghull North Railway Station. Photo taken looking north from School Lane road bridge. The former Moss Side Hospital site is to the right and Mersey Avenue to the left.
Take Maghull North Station, yes we know its going to happen, the Coalition Government gave more than 90% of the money for it well over a year ago. And what about the Halton Curve, the reopening of it for passenger rail services has been pumped out as new news more times than I have had hot dinners.
But please none of us get too carried away because the amount of money being invested in transportation projects in the north is nothing like what it is, per head of population, in the south east.
And what’s more our northern rail investments are unsurprisingly being linked yet again to that Northern Poorhouse project! Is there any public money now spent in the north that is not related to ‘keep the grumbling northerners from moaning too much project’?
The second photo is amongst my Flickr shots at:-
A Merseyrail train at Bootle Oriel Road Station
I have a lot of respect for Liam Robinson (the Chair of Merseytravel – our local public transport body on Merseyside) despite the fact that he is not of my political party, partly because he is a reasonable chap and partly because of his professional background in the railway industry.
This does not mean I agree with all he says in a Liverpool Echo follow-up article (see link above) to the recent call in the paper for trains to run latter at night on Merseyside, which I and many others support.
As I said in my previous commentary on this matter part of the problem for say communities like Maghull/Lydiate, for example, is that there is no circular bus to meet the last train even now, never mind any later running trains that could possibly run in the future.
I feel that the last Merseyrail trains out of Liverpool should be just after midnight.
As for the commentary about how the Merseyside public transport system works during big pre-planned public events I refer readers to my previous posting associated with the Giants from July 2014:-
I have the feeling that this issue has a long way to travel before it is resolved but despite the difficulties I hope that the powers that be can find a way forward to offer later trains out of Liverpool.
The Echo has the story – see link above:-
Mind the (funding) gap?
Well this one has certainly done the rounds in recent years and the Echo is right to be sceptical of what will happen. Sadly, this fits with my long held view that Merseytravel has a history of over-promising and under-delivering. Having said that I am more confident about the running of it since Liam Robinson took over.
The £70m lost on the appalling Merseytram project could well mean Merseytravel is less confident these days but either the aged rolling stock is fully refurbished to last say another 10 years or it will need to be replaced. A decision can’t be put off for ever!
The photo above is amongst my Flickr shots at:-
The Echo has the story – see link above.
I really do hope that this latest big plan works but readers of this very site will know only too well from my reviews of previous Merseytravel ‘big plans’, as they were were covered in the railway press, how they pretty much failed on the majority of counts. My postings can be read from the link below:-
But I would also raise another matter which I had to bring to the table via a motion to the last Sefton Council meeting. The matter? No mention what so ever in the original draft of this strategy of the rail line from Southport to Wigan and Manchester! Thankfully it is now to be included but I have not heard a reasoned account of why it was ignored in the first place. My motion can be read via the link below:-
Let’s hope Merseytravel and the City Region are on the right track at last.