Maghull – Back to that Moss Side Pond

I blogged recently about the Moss Side Pond/Grotto which still exists on the presently being built Poppy Fields Estate or as some will know it the Ashworth South Site or Moss Side Hospital site. Here’s my original posting:-

The photo I used in that earlier posting was not the best as I could only take it through a building contractor’s fencing. However community activist and Maghull councillor Frank Sharp has provided me with 2 far better shots of the pond that he took in 2010 before the site was cleared for the new housing. The two photos are the ones in this posting above.

Frank also reminded me about the Harrison family connection with the site and you can read about them via the historic information display board on the platforms of the new(ish) Maghull North Station, which takes up a part of the former Moss Side Hospital site. I took the photo below of the display board a while back:-

Look out for it when you get a train from Maghull North to Ormskirk or Liverpool after our present lock-down is over…..

My thanks to Frank Sharp for his assistance with this posting.

Note – Please click on the photos to enlarge them

Merseyrail/Northern – As the trains reduced frequency or stopped running – Our local lines

As our health crisis deepens here’s a snapshot of the consequences on our local railway networks as of today

End of the line from Wigan at Kirkby Station

Kirkby – Wigan: replacement bus (as it has been for last few days) every two hours

Ormskirk Station – The train in the foreground would have been Preston bound but it’s being replaced by a bus now.

Ormskirk – Preston: replacement bus every two hours and finishing early evening

This one is still running once an hour to Manchester – A Southport bound Class 156 DMU at Burscough Bridge Station on the Southport – Wigan – Manchester Line.

Southport – Manchester: hourly service to Victoria finishing early evening

Southport Station.

As I penned this posting Merseyrail was running a half hourly service across its network

But of course no one wants anyone to use the remaining trains or replacement buses unless they are key workers or the travel is absolutely necessary.

Aintree – Is the mothballed Nth Mersey Branch a Port of Liverpool access opportunity going begging?

Just south of Aintree Station there’s still a rail connection to the overgrown and mothballed North Mersey Branch, which heads off in the direction of the Port of Liverpool and Bootle. Here and above are a couple of shots of the rail connection as it is now:-

Both shots were taken from the end of the Liverpool bound platform of Aintree Station.

Surely it (the Nth Mersey Branch) could be, at least in part, a sensible contribution to the accessing the expanding Port of Liverpool. I might add that Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson wants a railway in a tunnel but Labour-run Sefton Council wants a road tunnel. Friends of the Earth are calling on Labour Mersey Metro Mayor Steve Rotherham to come out against the surface road solutions – I’m not aware that he has. Presently, Highways England are pressing ahead with their plans for a new road down and through Rimrose Valley Country Park.

The North Mersey Branch once went all the way to the docks (Gladstone Dock) but the the dock connection was removed many years ago, it connects the Southport – Liverpool and Ormskirk – Liverpool Merseyrail lines these days but it’s not been used (mothballed) for many a year. Merseytravel, the public transport arm of the Liverpool City Region, say they have long-term plans to reopen the branch for passenger traffic which was withdrawn from it and the former Ford and Linacre Road Stations in April 1951.

I recall going to the first public consultation event (a few years back) about how the expanding Port of Liverpool could be accessed by freight. On seeing only Highways England there I asked where Network Rail were so that the rail options could be talked through too. The answer was along the lines of they weren’t there and were not in reality a part of the process! I despaired then and I still do now…….

Click on the photos to enlarge them

New Merseyrail Trains – a construction video on You Tube

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

Although Merseytravel posted this video – see link below – on 7th February I had not come across it before. It’s worth watching to see how the new trains are being built and the initial testing of them:-

‘From design concepts to the real thing; watch as the new trains for the Merseyrail network take shape from initial designs to the first train out on the test track in Europe!’

As I post this Merseyrail (still operating Class 507 & 508 units of course) have had their first Stadler unit (777 003) out on nocturnal testing along the Kirkby line of recent nights.

NOTE – Merseyrail are only offering a 30 minute frequency service presently due to the health crisis we find ourselves in.

A mock-up of a Class 777 Stadler EMU as displayed in Birkenhead a while back

Tyne & Wear Metro V Merseyrail

A holiday in the lovely town of Tynemouth last week gave me the chance to check out Tyne & Wear Metro. This is what I made of it in comparison to my local rail network Merseyrail:-

Merseyrail Class 508 EMU at Maghull Station

T&W Metrocars at Whitley Bay Station

In some ways these two rail commuter systems are similar but in others they are quite different.

They both serve large northern metropolitan areas – Tyne and Wear & Merseyside respectively – plus they both like painting their trains and stations yellow, grey and black. What’s more both are about to gain new (Stadler) rolling stock – Merseyrail before Tyne & Wear.

The differences as I saw them:-

* Merseyrail has staff at virtually every station – T&W Metro seems to be a predominately a staff-less system. Certainly I didn’t see staff on the 4 journeys that I made on their trains and you buy tickets from machines like this one at Tynemouth Station:-

* With no staff around T&W Metro feels less secure to travel on than Merseytravel. This performance poster (seen at Cullercoats Station) is interesting – look at the staff availability (only 5.9 out of 10) and Ticketing (5.8 out of 10), although to be fair their security rating is a higher 7.1 out of 10:-

* T&W Metro has a big graffiti problem as mile after mile of lineside walls are covered in it – Merseyrail generally is graffiti-free – probably shouldn’t have said that!

* The old T&W Metro EMU’s are quite basic and look their age (although they were refurbished between 2010 and 2015 by Wabtec Rail at Doncaster) whereas the Merseyrail EMU’s have been refurbished a couple of times and look modern especially on the inside.

* As a non-local I found T&W’s major station – Monument – hard to navigate especially for trains on the circular route north of the Tyne. It would have been nice to have had a member of staff to interact with as Merseyrail always has at it’s hub station – Central. I had to ask fellow passengers for advice on which train to get to Tynemouth Station.

* Merseyrail is of course 3rd rail power pick up whereas T&W Metro is overhead line.

* T&W Metro is light rail – Merseyrail is heavy rail. The present T&W stock are called Metrocars. They are a fleet of light rail vehicles manufactured by Metro-Cammell. For operation on Network Rail controlled tracks (between Pelaw Junction and Sunderland) they are designated on TOPS as Class 994. Merseyrail’s Class 507 & 508 EMU’s are British Rail built.

T&W Metro’s Tynemouth Station is a delight in its careful and spot on refurbishment *.

Manors is an underground Station which reminded me a little of Merseyrail’s Moorfields Station.

I enjoyed riding T&W Metro but I think that Merseyrail has the edge on it especially with regard to staffing, security and ticketing. Here’s a link to the new trains that T&W Metro will be getting:-

And a local newspaper article about the temporary depot being constructed as the change over of trains to Stadler starts to take shape:-

My thanks to Wikipedia for some facts used above

Click on the photos and newspaper article to enlarge them

* This photo of Tynemouth Station is amongst my Flickr photos at:-

Merseyrail – Delivery of their 1st new Stadler Class 777 train

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

For those wondering what the new trains look like for real, as opposed to the mock-up one (see photo above) that was on show in Liverpool & Birkenhead, the link below shows the first one being delivered to Merseyrail’s Kirkdale Depot on 15th January:-

My thanks to Kevin Duggan for the lead to this posting