Kirkby – Wigan – Manchester Trains

End of the line from Wigan, the Merseyrail service to Liverpool is accessed under the bridge.

A curiosity and I imagine a real frustration for users of this line from the May 19th timetable changes by Northern is this:-

A double-headed (2 loco) train departs Knowsley Freight Terminal on its way to Wilton Power Station.

So it seems, according to Northern that is, that the troubled timekeeping on the Kirkby – Wigan – Manchester line is due to the freight trains to and from Knowsley Freight Terminal causing delays. The freight trains, usually 4 movements per day (2 in – 2 out), take Merseyside’s non-recyclable waste to Wilton Power Station in the north east for burning to create electricity. I’ve posted about these freight trains previously – here’s a link to that previous posting:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/09/08/what-happens-to-merseysides-rubbish-that-cant-be-recycled/

The question is, of course, what is going to happen between now and the December 2019 timetable changes to fix the delays allegedly being caused by the freight trains on this line? Also, when I’ve checked, the freight trains seem to be running pretty much to their timetable. What’s more they’ve been running for some years now and will continue well into the future.

There’s more to this story than meets the eye me thinks and it means 7 months of passengers having to change trains at Wigan Wallgate Station outside of peak times.

As Northern Rail starts another week of misery for its passengers……………….

End of the line from Wigan, the Merseyrail service to Liverpool is accessed under the bridge.

The Liverpool Echo has the story on its website – see link below:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/diary-commuter-what-really-like-15427245

Ormskirk Station – The train in the foreground is Preston bound (when it’s not being replaced by a bus). The one behind it is Liverpool bound.

I’m informed that this week is going to be yet another commuting challenge on many Northern routes because of the lack of availability of trains i.e. too many of them are bust. And the reason they are bust? Well for those of you who are interested in the technicalities my understanding is this. The shortage of trains follows a high number of wheel tread damage ‘flats’* incurred over the last 7 days following a deterioration of the railhead due to extreme autumn conditions. What’s extreme about this Autumn compared to any other?

Northern is predicting, so I’m told, a lack of around 20 trains on their network resulting in shorter more crowded trains along with full bus replacement services on the Ormskirk – Preston line today.

Northern expect, or more precisely their passengers expect, to experience crowding on many routes particularly into Manchester and Liverpool.

When will this madness end and Northern’s put out of their misery and the misery they cause to their passengers on a daily basis?

* Oddly on Remembrance Sunday when getting a Merseyrail train to Liverpool from Maghull the train I got on seemed to have wheel flats as you could hear it banging as the wheels turned. Not only that but whilst waiting for my train another passed through Maghull heading for Ormskirk and I could swear it had wheel flats too. Is there something to this extreme autumn conditions claim and what on earth is it?

Skelmersdale – Putting it back on the railway map?

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/skelmersdale-rail-link-moves-step-13639557

The Liverpool Echo has the story on its web site – see link above

I have covered this project previously and whilst I know that some Lancashire folk are highly sceptical of the £300m+ new railway line and Skem station ever being funded this is clearly another, if small, milestone along the right track.

Here’s a shot of the old and now long gone former Skelmersdale Station:-

The old Skelmersdale Station – now long gone in the name of 1950’s/60’s progress!

And here’s a couple of shots taken at Rainford Junction Station (there is no junction now):-

And finally a shot at Kirkby Station (the subject of a future posting of mine) where the present line from Wigan meets head on with Merseyrail’s electric service to/from Liverpool:-

End of the line from Wigan, the Merseyrail service to Liverpool is accessed under the bridge.

NoteThe last trains to Skelmersdale ran on Sunday 4 November 1956 and the station closed to passengers on Monday 5 November 1956. Skelmersdale station remained open for goods services until 4 November 1963 when it was closed completely. Information from Disused Stations UK.

Click on the photos to enlarge them

The last photo is amongst my Flickr shots at:-

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

Skelmersdale rail connection – the picture starts to develop

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

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

www.southportvisiter.co.uk/news/southport-west-lancs/new-skelmersdale-rail-station-step-11572987

The Southport Visiter newspaper has the story – see link above

I have commented on this developing project many times before but it really does seem to have legs and probably stands a reasonable chance of getting off the ground despite the huge cost. I hope it does come off.

In many ways though whilst it illustrates how large railway projects can be taken forward it is sadly the case that smaller projects to improve the rail network are actually much harder to pursue. The Burscough Curves come to mind!

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.

IMG_4864

* 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.

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:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2014/08/08/is-skelmersdale-really-going-to-get-a-railway-station/

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/06/01/skelmersdale-that-plan-to-bring-a-railway-back-to-the-town-an-update/

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/06/11/skelmersdale-the-detail-of-the-skem-rail-link-project/

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.