Does the West of Lancashire Community Rail partnership serve a useful purpose?

I’ve been reading in RAIL magazine (issue 855 – June 20th – July 3rd) all about how CRP (Community Rail Partnerships) can deliver social benefits and many other things. And then I thought about the two lines covered by the West of Lancashire CRP and wondered what on earth does it do?

I found a link to it’s web site and you can see it here

www.communityraillancashire.co.uk/lines/west-of-lancashire/

It’s profile is low and frankly these two lines have many issues with cancelled trains, overcrowded trains (Southport Wigan Line), lack of Sunday services (Ormskirk – Preston Line) etc. etc. So how effective is the CRP at addressing these issues? Based on the fact that pretty much all the social media input and campaigning on the issues/problems raised above seems to emanate from SRTF (Southport Rail Transport Forum) and OPSTA (Ormskirk, Preston and Southport Travellers Assn) I really do wonder what the CRP actually does and how it engages with the communities it serves?

Ormskirk’s Station where Merseyrail and Norther trains meet

Anyway, only the Ormskirk Preston Line is actually designated as a CRP line as defined by Government so the Southport – Wigan Line through West Lancs Borough can only be some form of informal CRP I guess.

I hear that Lancashire County Council are at best lukewarm over the potential to reopen the old station at Midge Hall on the Ormskirk – Preston Line despite the district council for the area being keen to press on with the reopening associated with major house building going on not so far away from the old station. Is this not the kind of project the CRP should be up and running with to develop the line?

And just what has the CRP done to address the lack of Sunday trains on the Ormskirk – Preston Line? This has been a local transport issue needing to be resolved for a long time now, particularly with the huge number of students in and around Ormskirk at Edge Hill University.

Departure board at Southport Station.

Then we look at the loss of virtually all the trains on the Southport – Wigan – Manchester Line into Manchester Piccadilly Station, the vast majority of which now terminate at Manchester Victoria to the inconvenience of many Southport and West Lancs rail users. Just how has the CRP tried to influence this pressing issue?

Also, the Southport line was until recent times on the list to be electrified all be that some vague number of years down the line – no pun intended. The line has old trains which are run in an overcrowded way and with unreliability being the unfortunate watchword. And this well predates the May 2018 timetable meltdown by many years.

What I’m getting at here is that from my perspective the CRP is hardly high profile on any of these issues and the voluntary sector in the form of SRTF and OPSTA have seemingly had to take the lead in battling with our failed railway industry.

So I can I ask again what purpose does the West of Lancashire CRP serve?

Clieves Hill parking lay-by pot holes

I mentioned two huge and deep pot-holes in this popular local scenic lay-by not so long ago. My previous posting refers – see link to it below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/04/22/clieves-hill-beautiful-views-and-huge-potholes/

Well my report to Lancashire County Council brought a swift response I’m pleased to say and the biggest of the deep ruts have now been filled with tarmac. It’s still not the most even of lay-by surfaces and could really do with a complete resurfacing but in these times of austerity it’s a welcome and quick bit of work from LCC.

Clieves Hill – Beautiful views and huge potholes

Clieves Hill in Aughton provides wonderful views over West Lancashire and Sefton to the coast, views like this:-

But beware if you try to park your car in the viewing lay-by as there are some monster sized potholes in it:-

Note:- Lay-by potholes reported to Lancashire County Council 21 04 18

Click on the photos to enlarge them

The lead photo is also amongst my Flickr shots at:-

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

Fracking on our doorstep – The opposition is getting organised

I suppose that fracking was always going to appear locally following Government giving out licences to companies wanting to explore for shale gas. Trouble is the wider political establishment is wedded to this source of fuel, which is far from being a green/renewable source of energy.

My previous posting on this subject was in January of this year and it is accessible via the link below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/01/06/fracking-its-getting-closer-exploratory-drilling-in-great-altcar-is-on-the-agenda/

Opposition locally is being led by ‘The Moss Alliance’ who held a public event in Haskayne Village Hall on 10th February.

On 4th January 2018 Aurora Energy Resources submitted a scoping request to Lancashire County Council. This is the stage before submitting a planning application. They want to dill 2 boreholes on Altcar Moss. The site is more or less level with Formby and to the east of it inland. Please note the site is actually within Lancashire (due to the most odd local government boundaries locally) not Sefton but Formby will be the biggest community that is nearest to the site.

Lancashire already has experience of dealing with shale gas exploration and drilling due to the Cuadrilla site near Blackpool which has had a great deal of coverage in the media.

I understand that Aurora will be holding their own public event, also at Haskayne Village Hall, on 17th February.

Skelmersdale – The ‘Skem Jazzer’ from the days of steam

The old Skelmersdale Station – now long gone in the name of 1960’s progress!

With much talk these days of Skelmersdale being once again connected to the railway network, bearing in mind that this ‘New Town’ was deliberately designed not to be rail connected, I have recently come across this short video on Youtube:-

www.youtube.com/watch?v=bIpDSDbxQgk

It’s from 1956 when Skem’ was railway connected by the line that ran from Ormskirk to Rainford Junction. The Ormskirk – Skem train back in the day was known as the ‘Skem Jazzer’.

The plan of Merseytravel and Lancashire County Council is for a new line to be brought into the Town from the present Kirkby – Wigan line, thereby extending the present Merseyrail line from Liverpool all the way into Skem. It presently terminates at Kirkby with a Northern diesel service onwards to Wigan.

The video is a lovely bit of nostalgia and worth a couple of minutes to watch.

Aughton – Beware the presently closed footpaths

Folk walking around Aughton enjoying the local footpath network need to be aware that a number of public footpaths in Aughton Civil Parish are presently closed due to major works that are being undertaken there by United Utilities contractors who are laying a new pipeline.

This is a long ongoing project affecting a huge area. Here’s an example of a notice from Lancashire County Council about part of the closed footpath network:-

The notice was at the beginning of a footpath in Brookfield Lane, Aughton which goes across the fields, over the the Liverpool – Ormskirk railway line (via Bowkers Green Pedestrian Level Crossing)and on to Mickering Lane.