How Preston’s transport plan could benefit Southport & the Ormskirk Merseyrail Northern Line

The graphic above*, which you will need to click on to enlarge for reading, is an extract from the recently published Preston City Transport Plan. It’s an important document because it discusses much needed transport, in this case rail, improvements to the south and west of Preston.

If you look closely the document is promoting the re-connection of the Burscough North Curve so that trains can once again travel between Preston and Southport. This is what the curves looked like when they were in place in the 1960’s:-

The Burscough Curves are in West Lancashire. This historic shot of them is from when they were in place, in 1960’s.

OPSTA, the Ormskirk, Preston & Southport Travelers Association has been promoting the re-connection of the Burscough Curves since the 1980’s and they have been the driving force behind improving the Ormskirk – Preston Line and the reopening of Midge Hall Station. But it’s been an uphill struggle with Lancashire County Council (the Transport Authority) seeming being at best lukewarm about the line the present train operator (Northern) struggling to deliver the present basic service reliably.

Ormskirk’s Station where Merseyrail and Northern trains meet.

Another way forward is for Merseyrail to run trains all the way from Liverpool Central to Preston via the removal of the buffer stops at Ormskirk and other signaling/track improvements. To me this has always been the most sensible solution to bring the Ormskirk – Preston Line up to its true potential, together of course with the introduction of Southport – Preston trains. The fact that some of Merseyrail’s soon to arrive Class 777 Stadler rolling stock will now have battery operation facility (this had been in doubt previously) then them operating on the line without the need for expensive electrification equipment opens up real opportunities.

A mock-up of a Class 777 – The new Merseyrail trains that will soon replace the Class 507/508 EMU’s

Graphic Notes:-
* ‘P’ is Preston – Numbers 2, 3 & 6 are points along the Ormskirk – Preston Railway Line – 2 is the proposed new Coote Lane Station – 3 being the proposed reopening of Midge Hall Station and 6 is where the connecting Burscough Curves are situated i.e. where the Ormsirk – Preston and Southport – Wigan lines cross each other.

Great Altcar – Fracking Moratorium – What does it mean?

Many Lydiate folk attended one of the local Moss Alliance meetings held in September:-

That Government has brought in a moratorium on fracking is on one level welcome but does it mean that fracking has effectively gone away for good, bearing in mind mid Sefton Borough has a potential fracking site being developed yards away in Great Altcar?

Probably our first reaction is one of saying, hang on we are in an election period so with fracking being so unpopular this could well be just a political ruse to try to take it off the political agenda. My view is this is exactly how we should view the moratorium.

Letter to Lydiate Parish Council from The Moss Alliance

The letter copied above from The Moss Alliance, the independent community group who are fighting the planning application (which is before Lancs County Council) to frack in Great Altcar, sums up the situation far better than I could. The matter will be discussed at the next meeting of Lydiate Parish Council.

Click on the letter to enlarge it for reading.

Lydiate – Opposition to Fracking – Meeting 7pm 5th September at Lydiate Village Center

This coming Thursday the 5th September the Moss Alliance are holding a meeting at Lydiate Village Center on Lambshear Lane at 7pm to press the case for halting the proposed fracking process at Great Altcar on land between Formby and Lydiate.

Please click on the graphics above to enlarge them

Aughton – Butchers Lane flooding

Flooding under the railway bridge is now almost a constant problem and we have not even reached autumn and winter

My recollection is that it was this bad some years ago but that some drainage work was done which seemed to solve the problem except in the worst of weather conditions. Time to get on to Lancashire County Council me thinks to see what they are doing about it…….

Aughton – It’s big green slab-sided pedestrian bridge

Well you can’t miss it – it’s big, green and very long:-

My previous posting of a few days ago refers:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/08/22/aughton-doctors-bridge-footbridge-being-replaced/

My first thought having seen it in place was that when walking across it you will not be able to see anything as the walls are so high. This must be a Network Rail specification but of course the good people of Croston (see link below) recently protested about another Network Rail slab-sided bridge which they feel is poor architecture:-

www.lancs.live/news/lancashire-news/croston-residents-campaign-changes-meadow-16131748

But as mentioned in my original posting this bridge seems to have been replaced by Lancashire County Council not Network Rail, although I guess it will be to NR’s specifications.

Well it will serve a purpose but the days to aesthetically pleasing railway architecture seem to be a thing of the past sadly. I wonder why NR specify things to be simply functional rather than pleasing on the eye too?

Whilst marveling at the engineering of this Dutch GRP-type bridge I can’t help but be disappointed with how it looks. Yes I know, the old pedestrian bridge was of no architectural merit either but at least you could see around you when crossing it.

Click on the photos to enlarge them

Aughton – ‘Doctors Bridge’ footbridge being replaced

Just north of Town Green Station, on Merseyrail’s Northern line to Ormskirk, is ‘Doctors Bridge’ where local legend has it that two doctors cars crunched on the bridge some years ago. The bridge is narrow though, too narrow to accommodate pavements as well as Prescot Road. The solution some years ago was a separate pedestrian bridge.

Doctors Bridge photographed from the former pedestrian bridge looking towards Ormskirk.

I’ve cycled over that separate bridge many times so imagine my surprise to find it gone Tuesday last…..

There it was gone with only the abutments visible on either side of the cutting.

Interested to find out more I cycled up Prescot Road again today and was lucky to bump into one of the bridge engineers for a chat. In my experience engineers love to talk about their projects and so it proved today.

I was told that the old bridge was life expired and is being replaced by a new one this coming Saturday (31st August). The new bridge [Brexiteers look away now as this will raise your blood pressure:-)] is coming from Holland and it’s made of GRP-type materials and less than half the weight of the old bridge. If I understood correctly this bridge will be one of the longest GRP pedestrian bridges in Europe.

Lancashire County Council are the sponsors of this bridge replacement together with another one further up the line in Ormskirk.

Click on the photos to enlarge them