Skelmersdale – That railway project – An update

Preliminary studies have begun into opening a new rail line to serve a new station at Skelmersdale.

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

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

Lancashire County Council, Network Rail and Merseytravel are looking at the issues, which will continue through Network Rail’s GRIP Stage 3 (Governance for Railway Investment Projects, Option Selection).

Network Rail has advised Lancashire County Council that the GRIP3 work alone will cost as much as £4 million, and has suggested these key dates:

* GRIP3 concluded, January 2017.

* GRIP4 (Single options selection), to January 2019.

* GRIP6 (Construction, commissioning) April 2021 to April 2023.

* Train services start December 2023.

With thanks to my friend Bob for this updated info.

Merseyrail – More on the promised new trains

I have been seeking reliable information about the process for obtaining the new trains and from what I can see at present the situation looks like this:-

* Merseyrail/Merseytravel/Liverpool City Region – have not selected the next generation rolling stock.


* It will only become known what new rolling stock has been selected once they (Merseytravel on behalf of Liverpool City Region?) have completed the procurement process that is about to commence assuming there is political approval for the procurement.

Could the new guardless Merseyrail trains look like this?

Could the new guardless Merseyrail trains look like this?

* The new fleet of trains will be a little smaller in quantity than the existing one, but will be able to cater for the anticipated growth in passenger numbers.

A current Merseyrail Class 508 EMU at Maghull Station

A current Merseyrail Class 508 EMU at Maghull Station

* There will be flexibility within contracts to allow additional rolling stock to be purchased, should the Merseyrail network expand.

Whilst at face value procuring fewer trains than presently run on the Merseyrail network seems wrong headed I think this will at least partly be explained by the new electrical multiple units being available a greater % of the time i.e. they will need less maintenance and will break down less than the units they are replacing.

Personally, I would rather see more units being purchased via the main initial tender so that they are procured at a better price than add-ons to the contract which are usually more expensive. Such a signal would also make the obviously required extensions to the Merseyrail system

Ormskirk to Preston
Kirkby to Skelmersdale/Wigan
Bidston to Wrexham

something that will happen rather than something that might happen. In other words make the extensions happen rather than just talk about them as has been the case for far too many years.

If the Liverpool City Region is to be a success it has to be well connected to the wider north west of England and indeed North Wales. Presently, by rail it is certainly not well connected so wider horizons have to be aimed for if a big opportunity is not to be missed.

Merseyrail – New Trains – Some further thoughts


The Merseyrail report [that I posted about recently – see link below] needs to be read in the light of the March 2015 ORR [Office of Rail Regulation] statement reiterating their opposition to 3rd rail electrification extensions:-

ORR says:

1. It must be safe.
2. There is a presumption against 3rd rail in new build or extended 3rd rail due to safety requirements.
3. Where 3rd rail exists the operator should continually review it whilst seeking improvements in design, operation and maintenance.

ORR considers that the weight of safety evidence creates a presumption against new-build or extended third rail being reasonably practicable. A duty holder will therefore need to demonstrate, to ORR’s satisfaction, that any proposed new-build or extended third rail proposal complies with the applicable legislation and be able to explain how and why it rebuts this presumption

Where new 3rd rail extensions are proposed they must demonstrate;

1. They have considered the full range of options available.
2. Proceeding with 3rd rail is the only viable option.
3. How compliance with health and safety legislation will be achieved from the design stage onward.

In any renewal of a 3rd Rail section consideration must be given to replacing it.

In non-technical terms this could mean that if the electrified line is extended from say Ormskirk to Burscough and/or from Kirkby to Skelmersdale that overhead wires ‘should’ provide the power to run the trains rather than an extended 3rd rail.

Again, I am indebted to my friend Bob who is an expert in this field. My comments above are those in italics.

Skelmersdale – More on that railway prioject

Merseyrail through to Wigan?

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

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

I have been pondering the recent news which seems to indicate that if Government can come up with a big enough cheque and other significant sources of money can be tapped into then a railway into Skelmersdale could well be a runner.

My previous postings on this subject are available via the links below:-

As you may have picked up by now the plan is to extend the Merseyrail electric service from Kirkby to Skem’, whist then having a less frequent diesel service from Skem’ to Wigan. Is that not just moving the present problem down the line from Kirkby to Skem’?

By this I mean that Kirkby is presently the end of the line for Merseyrail and passengers to Wigan have to change trains there. Under these new proposals the change will still have to be made but in Skem’ instead of Kirkby.

Would it not be more sensible to extend Merseyrail all the way to Wigan just like in the good old days when there were no silly sets of buffers breaking up the service between Liverpool and Wigan via Kirkby? Wigan is still the most logical end of the line.

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

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.