The now Transport Committee of Liverpool City Region was previously know as Merseyside Passenger Transport Authority and Executive and it had (around 10 years ago or more) an unfortunate dabble in trying to bring a modern tramway system into being for Merseyside.
These were the proposed Merseytram routes serving eastern and south Liverpool
Indeed, the whole project failed when the last Labour Government pulled the plug on funding following all kinds of rescue attempts by Merseyside politicians to keep it afloat. Tram tracks had even been purchased and were stored at Hull docks if recall correctly.
This promotional Merseytram bookmark is about all that Liverpool City Region has to show for its big tram ideas.
But this posting is not to rehearse the rise and fall of Merseytram but more to speculate on the consequences of its failure. You see I do try to keep up to date with passenger transport initiatives on Merseyside particularly with regard to rail solutions and the thing is not much has happened since Merseytram and I’m yet to be convinced that any credible initiatives are in the offing.
There are parts of Merseyside and beyond that would welcome extensions of the present heavy rail Merseyrail 3rd rail electrified system and others where a light rail/tram solution would be of huge benefit. For example Liverpool John Lennon Airport is still not connected to the rail network and you could say that when Merseytram was being worked up the fact that the first line was not to go to the airport sealed the fate of the whole project. Another example is the long proposed reopening of the railway branch from Aintree to Bootle for passengers but despite years of talk nothing has happened to progress it.
What I’m wondering is whether the failure of Merseytram really did knock the stuffing out of progressive local transport solution thinking on Merseyside and that since then treading water with the odd new station opening on present railway lines is about the limit of the confidence of transport planners? I say this as cities across the UK are now heavily involved in innovative light rail and tram based solutions to get people about efficiently and to reduce environmental pollution. An example is Nottingham which I visited recently. Their modern tram system is a delight and at only £4 to ride the trams all day it’s cost effective for passengers too.
A Nottingham NET Tram at the Phoenix Park terminus.
I’m not suggesting that the heavy rail Merseyrail system should be replaced by light rail or a tramway, indeed the priority should be to extend it to places like Preston, Skelmersdale and Wrexham. However, alongside that Liverpool and wider Merseyside may well be able to benefit from light rail/tramway developments where extension of Merseyrail is not a sensible way forward.
But where is the ambition, the vision and the green transport revolution for Merseyside? Time for the City Region to stop licking its wounds and start some real transport planning again.
With just 28 days to go before the planned opening of Maghull’s 2nd railway station (Maghull North) there still seems to be much to do. These two photos were taken on 20th May:-
The top photo shows the station building and the bottom one the present state of the car park.
It is now pretty obvious that the station could never have been ready for the original 20th May opening date and I think it fair to say that most folk thought that date was just a little too optimistic anyway. We were told that the delay was due to signalling issues but clearly the station itself was far from complete on 20th, the day the new timetable changes were made nationally.
So the big question now is will the revised date of 18th June be met? We all hope so but I don’t think it will be any great surprise if it is not. Ainsdale station, also on the Merseyrail’s Northern Line, is presently being rebuilt and it was due to be completed by March 2018 so I’m told; work is still ongoing there and far from complete.
Two photos taken today of the present state of works on Maghull’s brand new railway station which is due to open on Monday 18th June.
It was clearly never going to be ready for the original optimistic opening date in May but things seem to progressing well.
The lead photo is also amongst my Flickr shots at:-
The Liverpool Echo has the story on its web site – see link above
News from the Echo (in a dramatic way?) about the consequences (on the Northern Line timetable) of the new Maghull North Station opening and also the consequences of Liverpool Lime Street being partly shut down again for further upgrade works.
A decorated emergency exit door at Liverpool Central Station.
The BBC has the story on its web site – see link above
I suppose my first thought was, what’s to like about it, it’s an underground station with little architectural merit.
As a separate posting I will blog about Liverpool’s overground Central Station which really did look quite splendid. Here’s a taster of the last bit of it that’s still standing:-
Fronting onto Bold Street – the last part of the original Liverpool Central overground station still standing.
News reaches us that the originally planned opening in May will not happen and presently the target day to open the new station on Merseyrail’s Northern Line (between Liverpool and Ormskirk) is said to be 18th June.
That a major project like this fails to reach its target opening date is no surprise at all – Just look at the new station at Kenilworth where 3 opening dates have come and gone and now no dates are being offered for the opening. Let’s hope Maghull North will not be on a similar track!
I asked our man on the inside of Merseytravel, Cllr. John Dodd, to find out what what’s going on and this is what he found out:-
‘The date [June 18th] has been selected based on the essential work Network Rail need to undertake on the signalling system to allow the introduction of the new station.’
A not particularly exciting answer but at least we have one.
Click on the photos to enlarge them