Aughton – Census and speed checks/traffic counts

The other day whilst cycling in Aughton I came across the Council (Lancashire County?) and the Police stopping traffic on Prescot Road for a census count. They were stopping each vehicle and doing a short interview with each driver. I’m guessing asking them where they had come from and were going to.

They were, however, not interested in cyclists (much to the grumbling of vehicle drivers I expect) I was waved through. Actually, I would have been more than happy to have engaged in the census and wonder why cyclists are excluded, after all we are traffic on the road.

No sooner had I turned into Town Green Lane/Bold Lane than I encountered yet another check point doing the same thing and a lady pedestrian asked me what was going on. This was the scene in Bold Lane near the junction with Winifred Lane:-

And then I noticed speed/traffic counting wires across Bold Lane literally yards away from where Melling resident and councillor Alison Doyle died whilst on a cycle ride a few months back:-

I’ve noticed that Bold Lane can at times be a bit of a racetrack for vehicle speedsters when I’m out cycling it so I wonder whether any of what I saw a few days ago is linked to that problem?

Ormskirk and its traffic jams

I’ve blogged before about why Ormskirk needs and east-west by-pass for its own sake and indeed to enable better access to Southport. My November 2013 posting on this matter is an example – here it is via this link:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2013/11/21/ormskirk-traffic-congestion-solved-by-the-new-switch-island-thornton-link-road/

Having been stuck in one of Ormskirk’s traffic jams a few days ago my thoughts turned to the East Lancashire town of Colne where a motorway just pours out into it and the ever gridlocked Harrogate over the Pennines in Yorkshire. Together with Ormskirk, they all seem to suffer from the same problem – traffic being funnelled right through a busy town as opposed to each having a bypass of some sort.

My mind then, being in a mischievous mood, stated to think about a new town entry sign for Ormskirk and its twin northern towns. How does this look?

Well yes, just a bit of fun on one level but also a nudge to Lancashire County Council on another. Oh, and by the way, it would also help a lot if trains were run from Ormskirk to Southport via reconnecting the Burscough south curve.

An OPSTA meeting in Croston – So are things looking brighter on the recently appalling (for cancellations) Ormskirk – Preston line

Ormskirk’s Station where Merseyrail and Norther trains meet

Croston is a lovely largish village which is somewhat isolated in public transport terms with few if any local bus services. And those that do run seem to be permanently under threat.

But what Croston does though have is a railway station on the Ormskirk – Preston line, a line that in the early 1980s was under threat of closure itself and the reason the then OPTA (Ormskirk Preston Travellers Assn) campaign group was formed. That battle was won although there were some amusing reminiscences at the meeting held last Wednesday about politician Den Dover having to leave a campaign meeting because his stance was not seen to be one that helped the then beleaguered line.

Croston Station

But as readers of this blog site will know the performance of Northern Trains on the line was in the utterly appalling category during 2018, indeed it got so bad that it made the BBC national TV news. That the BBC got hold of the story was down to OPSTA (notice the change of name to include Southport) and some very determined Croston residents. Thankfully performance has very much improved in recent weeks but OPSTA continues to monitor the on-time performance of every train and Northern know it.

A guest at the meeting was Cllr. Keith Iddon the Transport portfolio holder on Lancashire County Council. The impression he gave to the meeting was one of optimism for the Ormskirk – Preston Line. He clearly backs the idea of Merseyrail trains running through Ormskirk on to Preston, indeed if anything he came over as more optimistic about that happening than Liam Robinson (the Chair of Merseytravel) did at a similar OPSTA public forum held in Southport a few months back.

Burscough Junction Station

We pressed Keith on the need to run trains on the Ormskirk – Preston Line on Sundays whether or not the line is eventually taken over by Merseytravel – they would do that as a matter of course. He promised to take that request away and speak to Rail North about it. Rail North is in effect the northern branch of the Department for Transport.

If I recall correctly Cllr. Iddon referred to himself as someone from a truck driving background and thereby hangs an ever-present problem in Councils – their engineers are 99 times out of a hundred from a roads/highways background so they know little of the ways of the railway industry. Bearing in mind that many councils are responsible for transport in all its forms this must put them at a disadvantage, indeed they must miss opportunities because of the lack of expertise in railways. By the way, I’m not criticising Cllr. Iddon here, his working background is just as worthy as anyone else’s, I just use what he said to help illustrate a point that has long concerned me and which I witnessed when serving as a councillor on Sefton Borough Council.

Rufford Station

So are things on an upward curve for the Ormskirk – Preston Line? We can only hope so because so many passengers were left stranded day after day during Northern’s troubles, which are not at an end even now. Terrible communication issues with passengers, very poor rail replacement buses and a feeling that that Northern look upon the Rail North/DfT as their real customer who has to be satisfied rather than poor travelling public whom they let down day after day. The only way is upwards and please get the line into the Merseyrail system ASAP, it really is a no-brainer…..

Aughton – At last Lancs County are to resurface Bold Lane where Melling Councillor Alison Doyle was killed last August

Well, I mentioned in my review of 2018 that Bold Lane in Aughton had still not been resurfaced so imagine my surprise when I was out cycling in Aughton yesterday and my eyes fell upon this sign in Bold Lane:-

You can make out some of the poor surface in the shot below but the worst of it is further up the lane on both carriageways

Obviously, I’m glad that Lancashire County Council are finally getting around to resurfacing a lane that in recent times has been in pretty awful condition. However, I still wonder whether if the lane had been resurfaced a year ago (at least) Melling resident and Parish Councillor Alison Doyle would still be with us.

Notes:- My understanding is that a pothole in Bold Lane was a significant factor in the accident when Alison Doyle was killed whilst cycling with Sefton Velo Cycling Club.

Click on the photos to enlarge them

Bold Lane, Aughton – It’s still in very poor condition despite that seemingly contributing towards a cyclist’s death back in August

Melling residents will recall with great sadness the recent death of one of their Parish Councillors – Alison Doyle – in a cycling accident on Aughton’s Bold Lane back in August.

I raise the matter again as yesterday I cycled up Bold Lane due to my alternative and usual route via Sandy Lane being closed for roadworks. I virtually never cycle up Bold Lane because the surface of the road, north of the Sandy Lane junction, is very poor as I’ve mentioned in previous postings going back to February of this year.

Sadly, if anything the surface has deteriorated even more and a section of it is breaking up badly. The odd patch repair has been done but clearly some major resurfacing of say a hundred yards or so is urgently required. What I can’t get my head around is why Lancashire County Council has not done the work even if only in memory of Cllr. Doyle’s death.

I stopped to take some photos of the flowers at the side of the road where the accident took place:-

While I was stopped another cyclist came along and we talked about the condition of the road surface. We agreed that Lancs County Council really does need to get on with the resurfacing because not only had that terrible accident taken place due of a pothole but the surface had been marked out for repairs months ago but little has actually happened and the markings have now been all but worn/washed away.

I’ve raised the matter with Lancashire County Council hoping that they will get this road surface sorted before we have another serious accident.

Alison was a member of Sefton Velo Cycling Club.

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

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

Maghull – It’s new North Station certainly has had it’s fair share of snagging issues

I guess that any new building and construction will have its snagging issues but Maghull’s new North station certainly has had what some folk would suggest is more than its fair share.

* No level access off School Lane for pedestrians, cycles and those with disability until 3 months after the station was opened and still no dropped kerb off School Lane for cyclists.

* A rather strong smell which I’m told is now being attended to.
* Lifts not working to platforms for first couple of weeks after station opening.
* Still a non-functioning public toilet

* No pedestrian/cycle path from Park Lane yet

* Appalling noise from testing of PA system
* Why only one small open shelter on the busy Liverpool bound platform?

Another issue raised by some locals is the old 6ft wooden boarded fence which has mostly been taken away but for part that fronts the station onto School Lane. Yes it presently has artwork on large banners affixed to it that was produced by local school children but obviously those banners will have a limited life. What happens to the old fence then? It will be no positive advert for Merseyrail that’s for sure when the banners are gone.

And of course there’s some head scratching going on about why the bus stops are a fair step or fifty away from the station:-

Don’t get me wrong, I’m delighted that it’s been built as I campaigned for it over many years but I really do wonder about the detail of the project management. And you may wonder why I’ve not mentioned the size of the car park which is clearly a problem too i.e. it seems to be far too small. Well yes it is but that’s really a consequence of the lack of adequate car parking at the 3 stations north of Maghull North, indeed Aughton Park has none at all! Also the pricing structure of tickets can encourage folk to drive to Maghull’s 2 stations to pick up a Liverpool bound train. Trouble is this in turn means that whilst Maghull has a vast car park and Maghull North has a reasonably sized one there’s no room on a normal work day in either for Maghull, Lydiate and Melling resident’s cars unless they get there very early. This unfortunate conundrum, which will inevitably lead to more and more commuter’s cars being parked on the Poppy Fields Estate, needs to be addressed by Merseytravel & Lancashire County Council.

Click on any of the photos to enlarge them.