Merseyside’s lost railway stations that MAY come back to life

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

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/disused-railway-stations-you-could-15949230

Well, this sounds all very positive BUT Merseytravel has a long history of big aspirational railway projects that are rarely advanced. I’ve blogged about them before as the railway press has often picked up on them as being really possible and even really likely to be progressed only for nothing much to happen at all. And the evidence for this rather downbeat assessment? – my 3 postings from 2014:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2014/06/11/merseytravelmerseyrail-20-years-of-big-local-railway-ambitions-many-of-which-have-hit-the-buffers-posting-3/

Notes:-

*The link above will take you to my 3rd 2014 posting about Merseytravel’s long-standing overplaying their hand and there are links within it to postings 1 and 2 in the series.

* Maghull North Station has of course now been built and it opened in June 2018

* The Halton Curve has happened but as I write there are no regular passenger trains are using it.

* Work on progressing a rail connection into Skelmersdale is being taken forward but there are no guarantees that the project will attract the huge funding required.

* New rolling stock for Merseyrail is to be delivered in 2020.

Ormskirk’s Station where Merseyrail and Northern trains meet.

Maghull North Station – Tribute to the fallen and the suffering

I went along to the still new Maghull North Station (on Merseyrail’s Northern Line to Ormskirk) today to have a look at the just installed piece of artwork which celebrates the work of the former Moss Side Hospital and its pioneering treatment of shell shock. Of course, the hospital is long gone and the new Poppy Fields Housing Estate now occupies the site.

Here are some shots of what I think is a quite striking piece of artwork which is sited adjacent to the station ticket office:-

It was unveiled by local historian and former Maghull GP Dr John Rowland who has published a number of books on the history of Maghull and Lydiate.

A fine tribute to Moss Side, its staff, doctors and indeed patients who benefited from its pioneering treatments during and after World War 1.

The 3rd photo is amongst my Flickr shots at:-

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

Maghull – Views of our presently closed down railway

I decided to have a good look at what Network Rail and their contractors are up to whilst the Liverpool – Ormskirk Northern Line of Merseyrail has been shut down for enabling works to take place so the stations are ready for the new class 777 Stadler EMU’s in 2020. All the photos were taken on 5th November.

The first couple of shots show the ongoing platform works at Maghull Station:-

This next shot in effect shows why the works are being done at stations across the Merseyrail network:-

If you look carefully (it may be best to click on the photo to see it enlarged) you will see that the floor of the new trains will be level with the platforms and a small gap filler will come out when the train stops at a station. This is so that people with disabilities, wheelchairs, and bikes can be wheeled straight onto the new trains without the need for station staff to meet trains with portable ramps as at present with the current 507/508 trains.

Here’s a look back at Maghull Station from Poverty Lane and a look northwards from Poverty Lane in the direction of Maghull North Station. Clearly, other works were being undertaken during the shut down such as cutting back overgrowing trees:-

We then move on to the new Maghull North Station where I think that snagging work from the previous works was taking place. There was scaffolding around the lift towers but I could not get a close look as I was advised to leave the station by a member of Merseyrail’s staff. I had wandered onto the station footbridge and had not seen any warning signs but advised to leave I was. The following photo was taken looking back at the station from the Park lane overbridge:-

And finally a look north from the Park Lane overbridge in the direction of Town Green Station. Again other works were clearly taking place in the distance during the shut down of the line:-

Click on any of the photos to enlarge them

Maghull – So how will its vast urban extension measure up car usage wise?

M58 and the vast Maghull East Urban Extension Site

The BBC has an interesting article on its web site about car dependency which is built-in to modern housing estates – see link below:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-45956792

Having read the piece above, by Roger Harrabin, I immediately thought of the vast urban extension which is planned for the Maghull East site because surely it will become yet another one to add to the list of almost complete car dependency will it not?

I’ve mainly opposed the building of Maghull’s urban extension on environmental and food supply grounds because the land which it is to swallow up is pretty much all of the highest grades of agricultural land that grows our food. However, the piece on the BBC web site raises an altogether different perspective but one which is clearly related to environmental issues too.

Should we be building vast new communities in 2018 and beyond which are effectively car dependent? Surely not. Yes I know Maghull has just had its 2nd railway station constructed in the same geographical area but as its car park is already full before a brick is laid for Maghull’s urban extension will the new home owners simply drive to wherever they work? Well yes in the main that’s exactly what they will do. For that not to be the case the new 1600 houses would need an intensive circular bus services (not one that lasts for just a short period after the houses are built) on at least a 15 minute frequency that matches the train times. Is such an intensive bus service going to be brought in and maintained for years to come with environmentally friendly electric buses? I bet it’s not.

But seriously it is such considerations that need to be built into the planning process of all significant house building projects if we are serious about reducing car dependence and the environmental pollution that goes with it not to mention the hours we all spend in traffic jams.

Taking this train of thought a stage further (and train is the important word here) we will in the not too distant future need Merseyrail to operate on say a 5 minute frequency (as opposed to its 15 one presently). We will also need many more electric circular buses serving Maghull’s 2 railway stations – only then will we be able to turn the tide against the car which we all have become servants to because we are really crap at designing communities in which we can work, live and play without each needing to have an expensive polluting tin can to get us about.

And no I’m not having a go at local politicians for this state of affairs, it’s a problem brought about by successive governments of all colours failing to integrate housing, planning, environmental and transportation policy in a coherent way as we stare down the gun barrel of global warming. Oh and this conundrum is being faced by virtually every urban community.

Maghull – Foot and cycle path to Park Lane from new station

I’ve raised this issue a few times recently as back when the Poppy Fields housing estate site was down to be a new prison there was, along with the new Maghull North Station, an access path to be constructed right through to Park Lane. The path was brought into the the design of the site so to provide easier access to the new station for residents in the Park Lane area.

Here’s part of the access path looking towards Park Lane from Maghull North Station car park. Like Goldcrest Road it was constructed as part of the initial works for the prison that was cancelled.

My concern and indeed that of others has been that whilst the new station has been completed there’s no sign of the path being completed and opened up. This led me to chase up Merseytravel and Sefton Council and I now have what looks like some good news. This statement is from Sefton Council Highways Dept:-

I can confirm that I have persuaded Persimmon Homes to incorporate this footpath within their formal s38 Highways Act 1980 submission for the roads and footpath to be put forward to the Council for formal adoption. They will in turn become highways maintainable at public expense.

My thanks to Sefton Highways for chasing this matter through and gaining a good end result. It will just be a question of time now before the footpath/cycle path is completed and opened up for public use. That timescale is presently unknown and is down, I understand, to the phasing of the house builder’s works on the Poppy Fields site.

Hope that helps? Oh and BTW Sefton Highways have also agreed to take up the issue of the requested dropped kerb (for cyclists) onto School Lane where the recently opened level access to the new station reaches the pavement.

Maghull – Moss Side Hospital/Shell Shock/Public Artwork

Readers of this blog site will recall how disappointed I was when the railway powers that be refused to acknowledge (in the name of the new Maghull North Station) the part the former Moss Side Hospital had played in the treatment of Shell Shock during and after WW1. Indeed, that disappointment was felt across a large number of campaigners as we wanted the station named ‘Maghull Moss Side’ because it sits on the site of the former hospital as does the new Poppy Fields housing estate.

View of platforms at Maghull North Station

My blog posting of December 2015 refers:- tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/12/07/maghull-name-new-station-maghull-moss-side/

We may have lost that particular battle but things have moved on in a far more positive way since and users of the new station will probably have seen the display boards that have been erected on the station’s platforms detailing the history we all wanted recognised. Here’s a photo of one of the boards:-

Now Maghull Town Council has stepped in and is to provide a piece of public artwork for display at the station. Details of the artwork can be found, via the link below, to the planning application documents recently submitted to Sefton Council (look at the Design & Access Statement):-

pa.sefton.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=documents&keyVal=PF34SBNWH4600

Local history is important in any community but in Maghull, which is world famous for 3 things, it is vital that the past is not forgotten. And the 3 things? This issue of course because of the pioneering medical work into trauma, the fact that Maghull had one of the first ever epileptic colonies (The Maghull Homes) and finally because it was the home of world famous toy maker Frank Hornby of Meccano, Dinky Toys and Hornby Model Railways fame. Who’d have thought that a town, which many think is just a post 2nd World War suburb of Liverpool, had such a history!

With thanks to Nigel for the lead to this posting.

Click on the photos to enlarge them