Maghull North – Branch Line Society Charter Train on Ormskirk Line

At lunchtime today a Branch Line Society charter train came through Maghull on the Liverpool – Ormskirk Merseyrail Line and I was there to see it at the new(ish) Maghull North Station.

Unexpectedly it stopped at Maghull North for 15 minutes allowing photographers both on and off the train to take photos. Here are my shots of the unique event. It is very rare to see anything other than Merseyrail’s own Class 507/508 EMU’s on the line. Indeed, this could well be the first charter train to visit and stop at Maghull’s new station. Please correct me if I am wrong here:-

The 4 coach train was topped and tailed by two West Coast Railways Class 47’s – 47 245 & 47 826.

The 2nd photo is amongst my Flickr shots at:-

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

Maghull – Book sharing scheme at the new(ish) Maghull North Station

The new mini library at Maghull North Station

Local resident Frank Sharp has launched a book sharing scheme at the new Maghull North Railway Station akin to the one that is run by the Station Volunteers at the original Maghull Station.

Maghull Station Library run by the Station Volunteers

Organisers hope it will encourage a sense of community and ownership of the new station. Frank thanks Merseytravel’s senior rail project manager Darren Hazlewood and Merseyrail’s Sally Ralston, for allowing the installation of a bookcase and books which have been freely donated by the local community.

The initiative follows on with similar initiatives at other railway stations (not just in Maghull) and the international Little Free Library organisation, which aims to increase book access and forge community connections.

Says Frank “The idea is simply to encourage the community to emulate other railway stations and organisations by taking a book or leaving one – anything you’ve read and would like others to enjoy. The more people use it, the more fun it will be, and the more it circulates. Hopefully, it will also encourage a sense of community and ownership around the new station, akin to the brilliant award winning work undertaken by volunteers at Maghull’s older station.”

Editor – It all sounds great to me so I’ll now share the books and magazines I donate to the old Maghull Station across the Town’s two stations. I hope others will join in too. Please try to remember to add a book when you take one, or soon afterwards, otherwise the system does not really work.

There’ll be standing room only in the Valleys

I’ve just spent a week in the Brecon Beacons and took the opportunity to try a Transport for Wales train from Ebbw Vale to Cardiff.

Ebbw Vale Town Station (the end of the line) is very basic and very exposed; a ticket machine, a one train per hour frequency and a small shelter is about it – a far cry from say Merseyrail with it’s 15 minute frequency and staffed stations with ticket offices/toilets. The ticket machine, whilst working, needed quite a hard pounding on its keyboard for it to take any notice of what you were trying to tell it. At busy times you get the impression that folk would not bother queuing up to use it as it takes too long and you could easily miss your train as a consequence because the turnaround time of incoming trains to outgoing is very short indeed. I noticed quite a few fellow passengers buying their tickets from the guard and having used the ticket machine I know why.

The outbound train was a 2 car Class 150 (see photo above at Ebbw Vale Town Station) and I’d say that it was 2/3rds full throughout the journey which started at 11.37. Of course, this made me wonder what rush hour services would be like (having heard they were normally overcrowded) but more on that aspect later on in this posting.

The ride was very smooth on the 150 but it was regularly hitting overgrown branches which were clearly in need of being cut back. The stations called at along the line seemed to be as basic as Ebbw Vale.

The journey each way takes almost exactly an hour and a day return, which can be used on any train, is presently (Oct 2019) £8.40.

The return journey was at 16.34 from Cardiff Central and within 5 mins of the set time of departure it was standing room only on the elderly 2 car Class 142 ‘Nodding Donkey’ which had an onboard toilet (I’m guessing that the 150 must have had one too but did not notice). People remained standing until the station call about 30 mins into the ride up the valley. Like the 150 the 142 was regularly hitting over hanging branches. The ride back was not bad for a 142 (seen below at the exposed Ebbw Vale Town Station) but obviously not as smooth as the 150 and there was quite a bit of wheel screeching from the 142.

I noticed that the station platforms along the branch seemed capable of taking 4 car trains but whether 4 cars are ever provided I could not tell. My guess is that when 4 cars are finally a reality they will fill to capacity very soon and 6 car trains probably need to be the Transport for Wales aim.

Oh and one final thing, which fits with a recent posting of mine about Merseyrail’s Maghull and Maghull North Stations. The car parking provision at Ebbw Vale Town Station whilst being reasonably significant across 2 car parks was unsurprisingly not enough and I had to park some distance away from the Station.

Both trains were clean and punctual. Marks out of 10 for Transport for Wales – 7.

A photo from my train ride can also be seen on my Flickr page at:- www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

Maghull – Foot and Cyclepath to Maghull North Station

I keep on pressing for the promised footpath/cyclepath from Park Lane to the now far from new station to be opened up ASAP. Indeed, I’ve recently raised the matter with both Merseytravel and Sefton Council.

I went to have a look at where the path runs (from the far end of the station car park) towards Park Lane a few days ago and you can clearly see it together with the signs:-

The path was actually laid out back when the Ashworth South site was going to be a new prison so why on earth the present housing developer needs to restrict access to the Station via it beats me. Sefton Highways tell me it’s down to Persimmon Homes to say when the path becomes accessible and from that I’m guessing it forms a part of the site which will be adopted at some point by the Council along with roads and pavements.

I’ll keep on banging the drum………

Lydiate – Making the case for reconsidering the circular 31/31A bus route

I made a point of getting to the Merseytravel bus consultation event at Maghull Square Shopping Centre this morning.

When I arrived a chap was already talking to the staff and I quickly realised he was making the very same point I had come to make i.e. that the 31/31A Lydiate circular bus should serve the new Maghull North Station rather than the old Maghull Station.

Our reasons? Since the loss of the 311 bus Lydiate folks have limited options to get to Ormskirk by public transport. Secondly, Maghull North Station is nearer to Lydiate so the journey to get to Merseyrail would be shorter.

This issue has been raised with me as a Lydiate Parish Councillor a few times now, indeed I raised it myself when the original public consultation took place about the building of the new station a couple of years ago or more. However, for some odd reason this quite workable change keeps falling on deaf ears. I hope someone is listening this time.

Here’s a link back to a previous posting of my on this matter from August 2017:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/08/26/maghull-north-station-so-which-local-buses-will-serve-the-station-when-it-opens/

Waterloo – Maghull – Kirkby 133 bus to run less frequently

The 133 bus route (currently operated by Comfy Bus) links a number of small communities (Melling Mount, Sefton Village, Lunt Village & Homer Green) with larger places such as Kirkby, Maghull (and its new North Station), Thornton and Waterloo. It’s been running for many years (probably since the withdrawal of the former Ribble buses 381 and 382 many moons ago?). But it seems things are going to change and sadly not for the better.

Merseytravel have issued a new invitation to tender for this subsidised route to be operated (Monday to Saturday) from this coming April. The 133 does not run on a Sunday, I might add

However, instead of the present 10 buses from Waterloo to Kirkby and 11 buses from Kirkby to Waterloo each day the new specification is for only 6 buses to operate Waterloo to Kirkby and 6 buses Kirkby to Waterloo. One additional service the 0743 from Kirkby will terminate at Maghull Square at 0823 and will run school term times only, so will not serve Sefton & Lunt Villages, Homer Green or Thornton at all. The very early bus (the 06.53 from Kirkby) will also not run on a Saturday.*

There can be little doubt that this reduction in frequency of the 133 bus will be a blow to regular users of it. Here’s a link to present timetable:-

bustimes.org/services/133-waterloo-maghull-knowsley-industrial-park-2

And this is the proposed timetable from April this year:-

I’m guessing that the Parish Councils along the route will have had something to say about reduction in service.

My thanks to Kevin Duggan for the lead to this posting.

Please click on the new timetable to enlarge it for reading

* Hope I’ve interpreted all the changes correctly but please shout if I have not.