Liverpool – Merseyrail – The Giants and closed railway stations

Hightown Station will have no trains stopping there during The Giants event in Liverpool.

This is indeed an odd story which is carried on the Liverpool Echo’s web site – see link below

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/commuters-reacted-fury-after-finding-15184496

When it was first pointed out to me it read like an April 1st leg pull but there’s no joke about it, stations such as Hightown, Aughton Park and indeed many others will be closed when The Giants event is being staged in Liverpool in early October.

Unsurprisingly rail passengers who usually get a train from one of the closed stations are less than impressed and some politicians have been backing the angry rail users. But hang on a minute, Merseyrail the train operating company will surely not have made decisions about which stations to close down in complete isolation will they? Consultation will surely have taken place with event organisers and most importantly with Merseytravel (the public sector committee of Liverpool City Region which controls the Merseyrail franchise) won’t it?

On that basis surely these station closures will have had some kind of political sign off from elected representatives, or officers to who decision making of this kind has been delegated, of Merseyside’s dominant political party will they not? But then what about the station closures in West Lancashire or Ellesmere Port that are outside of the City Region, were politicians from those areas involved in the decision making process?

Is this another example of Merseyrail seemingly carrying the can for others like with the recent train guards dispute?

With thanks to Keith for the lead to this posting

Leeds Liverpool Canal swing bridges – They can be troublesome

As the Leeds Liverpool canal winds its way through the south and east of Sefton Borough a number of swing bridges are encountered.

Barge at Green Lane (Methodist Turn Bridge), Maghull

Barge at Green Lane (Methodist Turn Bridge), Maghull

They were constructed in this way to save money; the alternative being far more expensive stone bridges. Thinking of the stretch of the canal through Sefton’s East Parishes communities there are swing bridges for example at the following locations:-

Wango Lane, Hall lane, Shop lane, Green Lane, Bells Lane

It is not unusual for the bridges to be out of service due to mechanical breakdowns which can cause frustrations for boaters and vehicle drivers alike. One of the problems is that some vehicles are driven over the swing bridges that are too heavy. Indeed, I once saw a massive tractor being driven across the Green Lane swing bridge (otherwise known as Methodist Turnbridge – which was allegedly blown up by the IRA on one occasion) with only about an inch to spare on either side between it and the bridge sides. Clearly the vehicle should not have been anywhere near the bridge and surprise surprise it was soon out of action. Drivers of heavy vehicles will know they should not cross these bridges if they are too heavy but I assume they don’t care and do it anyway.

But this is not a new problem, just look at this photo of a Leeds Liverpool Canal notice (in cast iron) which I saw at the national Waterways Museum in Ellesmere Port:-

llc-notice-1-nwm-ellesmere-port

Click on the photo to enlarge it

The second photo is amongst my Flickr shots at:-

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

Leeds Liverpool Canal – In the days when you were not welcome on the tow path

It’s hard to imagine these days that at one time walkers and cyclists were not welcome on the tow paths of the UK’s canal network, even more so now when exactly the opposite is true and the Canal and River Trust actively encourages such activities.

But just to prove how unwelcome walkers and cyclists were in previous times here is a photo of a Leeds Liverpool Canal cast iron sign, from 1911, which is on display at the National Waterways Museum in Ellesmere Port:-

IMG_7790r

Click on the photo to enlarge it

The photo is also amongst my Flickr photos at:-

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

Merseyrail back in 1977

I recently picked up an old publicity map of Merseyside’s local railway network published in 1977 at a time when it was being substantially redeveloped as an underground railway within Liverpool City Centre.

Merseyrail Network

Click on the map to enlarge it

You can see from the main map that the electrified services only reached Rock Ferry back then on one of the Wirral Lines (in Green). Extensions were subsequently constructed to both Chester and Ellsemere Port in later years. An additional station also appeared along this line at Bromborough Rake and a further one at Overpool on the Ellsemere Port extension. Conway Park Station is an addition to the Network too. Upton-By-Chester Station has since been replaced by Bache Station about half a mile away from it.

The Northern Line line (in Blue) now terminates in Liverpool’s southern suburbs at Hunts Cross. This extension from Liverpool Central Station (which was an overground station until the 1970’s but is now underground) along the tracks of the former Cheshire Lines Committee was yet to be completed at the time the map was drawn. Also, this southern end of the Northern Line gained a new station at Brunswick (first stop out of Liverpool) whilst Garston Station has since been replaced by Liverpool South Parkway.

Of course the former Liverpool Exchange Station was lost as a consequence of this 1970’s redesign of Merseyside’s railway network and it was replaced by Moorfields Station which is close to it but underground.

The presently named Rice Lane Station on the Liverpool – Kirkby Northern Line (in Blue) was called Preston Road Back then.

Merseyrail map

The next significant addition to the Merseyrail Network of electrified lines will be the soon to be constructed Maghull Station on the Northern Line to Ormskirk. It’s name clearly identifies its location i.e. north of the present Maghull Station which is beyond its capacity at rush hours.

Just a bit of recent Merseyside railway history, please feel free to comment particularly if I have got anything wrong.

Sefton’s budget meeting was not all bad news – a glimmer of hope re. Combined Authority

As well as the big party political bust up between the ruling Labour Party and us opposition Lib Dems over Labour’s budget for the Council last Thursday there was another matter on the Council agenda of importance.

I have commented before on the recently created Combined Authority for Merseyside, why Sefton Lib Dems would not support its setting up and subsequently the ridiculous farce because the 6 Merseyside Labour Council Leaders, who are responsible for setting it up, can’t even agree what to call it!

The report before Sefton Council last Thursday was at face value a technical one all about constitutional type issues for this new body but we saw an opportunity to try to make a significant move for the betterment of this flawed project. Our move was to propose an additional clause which read as follows:-

Commits Sefton Council to positively lead an exploration of all the realistic options to expand the Combined Authority to encompass those areas of Lancashire and Cheshire that are presently not a part of the Combined Authority but may aspire to such.

No one was more surprised than me, as the mover of this amendment, when the Labour Leader got to his feet and agreed with me! In Merseyside Labour’s horizons are usually very low but it seems that light has penetrated Labour’s darkness on this matter.

There are two important reasons why Merseyside has been seen to be and indeed has been dysfunctional and unsuccessful in terms of its local governance. Firstly, its Labour-run Councils over the years have not got on or even had a common agenda – fighting like ferrets in a sack comes to mind! I saw some of this at first hand when I was Leader of Sefton and there were then 2 other Lib Dem Council Leaders from St Helens and Liverpool Councils. I think it fair to say that we 3 Lib Dem Council Leaders often used to wonder if Labour had any other agenda than trying to unseat the Labour Chairman of Merseytravel because that issue did the rounds so many times. Most of all this was symptomatic of Labour’s long-standing Merseyside internal rivalries.

But the other problem is that Merseyside is far too small. It does not represent the real travel to work area of Liverpool with places such as West Lancashire and Ellesmere Port being outside of the governance structure. A glance across at Greater Manchester shows you how right that balance can be and how wrong Merseyside has always been since it’s creation in 1974.

Greater Manchester has virtually always displayed a public face of a common agenda and in doing so it has been successful. Merseyside has never had a common agenda and the consequences have been failure. Greater Manchester is clearly a governance area that makes sense and which encompasses the vast majority of Manchester’s travel to work area. Merseyside is too small and it does not represent Liverpool’s travel to work area.

Maybe a small step was made last Thursday to address the geographical problem, I certainly hope so. Whether Labour can sort out the generations of infighting across Merseyside is quite another!