Maghull – Construction work on new station causing big problems for near by residents

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/quiet-street-thats-been-transformed-13843355

The ongoing issues surrounding noise and over-night working as Maghull’s second railway station is being built has reached the pages of the Liverpool Echo – See link above

The photo (click on it to enlarge) above shows the extent of the works on 29th October. The residents suffering noise and disruption to their lives live in the houses to the left of the photo in Maghull’s Mersey Avenue. The photo is looking north from School Lane in the direction of the next station on the line – Town Green in Aughton.

I think it fair to say that the level of disruption to the lives of residents in Mersey Avenue has come as a rather bad surprise. Of course construction work is always going to be intrusive to some extent if you live near such a site but how come the level of consultation with the residents seems to amount to not much more than a letter being delivered so far?

When we saw the tight construction window allocated to build the new station maybe it should have sounded alarms. Starting in September 2017 and opening in May 2018 is indeed tight so intensive night working’ when trains are not running, was with hindsight always going to be the case. But again the most severely affected residents should surely have been consulted and briefed in detail weeks before the start of works so there were no surprises and all possible and practical mitigation measures put in place.

It’s as though the level of disruption to Mersey Avenue residents has just not been fully thought through. Why?

New Maghull North Station due to open May 2018

Site for the new Maghull North Railway Station. Photo taken looking north from School Lane road bridge. The former Moss Side Hospital site is to the right and Mersey Avenue to the left.

I have been chasing up the latest position with regard to the Maghull’s 2nd railway station and with the help of Merseytravel Committee member John Dodd. I can supply the following information which has been provided to John by Merseytravel.

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The contractor for the Maghull North station began the mobilisation stage for the station works on Monday 4 September.

Work has also begun on the de-vegetation of the railway cutting within the existing Network Rail trackside boundary. An ecologist is on site in case there are any particular issues that are found as the staff work their way in to the undergrowth.

Merseytravel will be meeting with Network Rail on Friday [8th September] and will discuss further details of the early stages of the construction works.

Opening of the railway station is still planned for May 2018 when the new summer timetable starts. At this stage it is not intended to rework the Maghull Circulars [buses], some of which provide a service from the existing station and pass the site of the new station.

However there will be further bus service reviews in time to come and the services will be looked at with knowledge of the new station, the Persimmon Homes development currently underway (Poppy Fields) and any proposals for development on the lands east of Maghull.

With thanks to Cllr. John Dodd for the lead to this posting

This photo shows the view from the Park Lane overbridge looking south towards the School Lane overbridge from where the previous photo was taken. The new station will be close to the School Lane bridge.

Maghull North Station – So which local buses will serve the station when it opens?

Site for the new Maghull North Railway Station. Photo taken looking north from School Lane road bridge. The former Moss Side Hospital site is to the right and Mersey Avenue to the left.

This is a question that I know is in the minds of local people, indeed I have been asked as a Lydiate councillor whether I know the answer to it. It also came up as part of a wider discussion at the last Lydiate Parish Council meeting.

I thought it was time to see how far Merseytravel had got with their thinking/planning regarding this matter.

I recall that when the public exhibition about the new station was held at Maghull Town Hall some time ago the officials present were then unable to answer questions about which bus services would serve the station when it opens in 2018.

And this is what Merseytravel have told me:-

‘The 32/33 are circular services that will provide access to the new station during the off peak and the 34 during the peak. The 133 will also serve the station operating all day Monday to Saturday.’

I was surprised to note that presently the 31/31A circular bus which reaches out into Lydiate seems not to be down to call at the new station. I will be taking this up as obviously Maghull North Station is nearer to Lydiate than the present Maghull Station.

Clearly the opening of the new station will lead to some bus route/timetable changes to accommodate it and I’m sure we will be made aware of such changes nearer the opening.

As I wrote this posting building work on the station had yet to start.

With thanks to Cllr. John Dodd for his assistance with this posting

OPSTA Update – From the pages of Rail User Express

Rail User Express is the newsletter of Railfuture

Ormskirk’s Station with it’s split tracks and disjointed railway journeys is illustrated well by this photo by ‘mwmbwls’ borrowed from Flickr.

Ormskirk-Preston-Southport Travellers Association

In the draft Northern timetable from May 2018, just two peak services each way between Wigan and Manchester Piccadilly via Bolton would start and end at Southport, using bi-mode Class 319 Flex trains. Diesel powered alternators under the driving trailer cars of these units power the existing DC electric motors and on-board systems, so they can run both on electrified lines and to non-electric destinations. OPSTA believes that with just two more Flex trains, through services to Southport could be retained all day every day, though the extra trains may not be ready until Oct 2018. Local councils and Liverpool City Region Combined Authority back the idea, and Northern is helping OPSTA to build its case, but has yet to be convinced of the need for a Sunday service, which is not specified as a franchise requirement.

Departure board at Southport Station.

The 2018 timetable also proposes an hourly Preston – Ormskirk service from Monday – Saturday between 0626 and 2236 from Preston and 0701 to 2301 from Ormskirk, with a half-hour journey time. The trains arrive at Ormskirk and Preston from Colne, and Blackpool South respectively. Although not be shown as such in the timetable, these through services should make for both shorter and more convenient journeys. However, there is very little recovery time in the timetable, so any delay could have a lasting effect, albeit mitigated by the newly replaced passing loop at Rufford. Also, whilst the timings and connections at Preston look good, those from Liverpool at Ormskirk would be 17 mins, increasing to 24 mins in the evening. However, the Merseyrail timetable will change when Maghull North station opens in 2018.

Maghull – What will that new railway station look like?

No this is not another posting about the 17th relaunch of the Maghull North Station project you will be glad to hear but it is about what the new station will potentially look like.

Just a recap first, it will be just north of Maghull’s School Lane where that road crosses the railway. The station will be between the yet to be constructed houses on what has become known as the Ashworth South Site (the site of the former Moss Side Hospital) and the present housing on Mersey Avenue. The station site looks like this at present (click on all the photos to enlarge):-

Site for the new Maghull North Railway Station.  Photo taken looking north from School Lane road bridge. The former Moss Side Hospital site is to the right and Mersey Avenue to the left.

Site for the new Maghull North Railway Station. Photo taken looking north from School Lane road bridge. The former Moss Side Hospital site is to the right and Mersey Avenue to the left.

Merseytravel Committee members were recently given a briefing on the design and progress of the project and I am indebted to Cllr. John Dodd for in turn briefing me about it.

Here are some up to date design images:-

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This one shows the School Lane overbridge to the left and the Mersey Avenue housing top/right.

This one shows the School Lane overbridge to the left and the Mersey Avenue housing top/right.

This one is looking westwards with Mersey Avenue at the top. The housing in the bottom two thirds of it is yet to be built on the Ashworth South Site.

This one is looking westwards with Mersey Avenue at the top. The housing in the bottom two thirds of it is yet to be built on the Ashworth South Site.

Access to the station car park will be via the School Lane roundabout that was constructed some years ago when the Ashworth South site was going to be used to build a new prison.

What can you say about the proposed station design? Well it’s modern, not particularly inspiring and so much like many new build stations these days. We seem to have forgotten what a railway station should look like. Indeed, we have a good example in the heritage buildings of the present Maghull Station and a little bit further down the same line towards Liverpool an example of how a once grand station (Aintree) has been modernised or is that vandalised! I will be posting about Aintree Station soon as I recently picked up a photo which really does show what has been lost.

But back to Maghull North. I hope it will be environmentally sustainable, solar panels, rainwater harvesting etc. but why can’t it be built with a bit more imagination in stone and brick to reflect say an updated version of the present Maghull Station? My posting from the public ‘consultation’ of not so long ago refers:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/11/24/maghull-north-station-project-exhibition-at-maghull-town-hall/

Ah well, it seems those of us who attended the consultation event, which was more like an information event, failed to move Merseytravel and Network Rail about design and heritage issues (to be honest we thought we were being given the tea and sympathy routine at the time) so it looks like it will be another modern box like building.

But, having said that, the new station will be very welcome and I say that as someone who has fought for it to be constructed for more years than I wish to recall. Let’s hope trains will be stopping there soon – within a year to 18 months?

Merseyrail back in 1977

I recently picked up an old publicity map of Merseyside’s local railway network published in 1977 at a time when it was being substantially redeveloped as an underground railway within Liverpool City Centre.

Merseyrail Network

Click on the map to enlarge it

You can see from the main map that the electrified services only reached Rock Ferry back then on one of the Wirral Lines (in Green). Extensions were subsequently constructed to both Chester and Ellsemere Port in later years. An additional station also appeared along this line at Bromborough Rake and a further one at Overpool on the Ellsemere Port extension. Conway Park Station is an addition to the Network too. Upton-By-Chester Station has since been replaced by Bache Station about half a mile away from it.

The Northern Line line (in Blue) now terminates in Liverpool’s southern suburbs at Hunts Cross. This extension from Liverpool Central Station (which was an overground station until the 1970’s but is now underground) along the tracks of the former Cheshire Lines Committee was yet to be completed at the time the map was drawn. Also, this southern end of the Northern Line gained a new station at Brunswick (first stop out of Liverpool) whilst Garston Station has since been replaced by Liverpool South Parkway.

Of course the former Liverpool Exchange Station was lost as a consequence of this 1970’s redesign of Merseyside’s railway network and it was replaced by Moorfields Station which is close to it but underground.

The presently named Rice Lane Station on the Liverpool – Kirkby Northern Line (in Blue) was called Preston Road Back then.

Merseyrail map

The next significant addition to the Merseyrail Network of electrified lines will be the soon to be constructed Maghull Station on the Northern Line to Ormskirk. It’s name clearly identifies its location i.e. north of the present Maghull Station which is beyond its capacity at rush hours.

Just a bit of recent Merseyside railway history, please feel free to comment particularly if I have got anything wrong.