RMT Union V Merseyrail – Still no resolution

Passing Merseyrail trains at Aughton Park Station on Merseyrail’s Northern LIne to Ormskirk

It’s a while since I’ve dropped into the long-running dispute between RMT trade union and Merseyrail, but there’s been some recent movement. Here’s a link back to a previous posting of mine on this subject:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/09/06/merseytravel-merseyrail-liverpool-city-region-v-rmt-train-guards-dispute-ended-but/

And the movement? The latest peace deal has been rejected by Merseyrail’s RMT members in a ballot. According to the RMT website, there were 217 eligible members in the ballot of which 182 voted i.e. 84%. I often wonder why in such trade union ballots some members choose not to vote. Yes, there’ll be illness etc. but can we assume those not voting were not bothered either way? The result was 83 accepted the deal and 99 voted to reject it.

So far I’ve not been able to track down much else about where this long-running dispute is now headed and as an outsider looking in, even one who is a retired trade union officer, the alternatives look rather bleak to me. I’m wondering whether those voting no to the deal had an eye to the ticket checking (revenue protection) part of it and a wish not to have to? Although ticket checking onboard trains by guards is still reasonably common, not so on Merseyrail who seem to have opted more for mobile teams to enforce those travelling ticketless over the past few years. However, with this new and now rejected deal the guards, renamed Train Managers, would be walking through the new Class 777 Stadler trains checking tickets and of course, dealing with the confrontations flowing from such interactions with folk deliberately trying to travel for free. My feeling is that the revenue protection part of the new Train Manager’s job is aimed, at least in part, at raising more money to assist in paying the wages of the Train Managers*.

It will be interesting to see if the rejected deal now becomes the marker for another fully-fledged industrial dispute between Merseyrail and the RMT.

A Merseyrail train just noth of Maghull Station heading for Liverpool on the Ormskirk LIne.

* I keep coming back to a point that I’ve made many times before. The fact is that the Liverpool City Region ordered new trains which were intended to run without guards being required at all. On that basis, a dispute with the unions representing the train operator’s staff was always going to be on the cards. You can’t help but wonder if the Labour-run City Region was looking for a fight with Merseyrail’s trade unions all along? The City Region came unstuck when the RMT and passenger groups said they wanted a 2nd person onboard each Merseyrail train to aid passenger safety. This argument gained traction and the politicians were forced to back down.

1959 just north of Aughton Park Station

Here’s the latest instalment in my long term project to share the photographs in the Neil Reston Collection.

To recap the family of Neil passed the photos on to me last year and I’ve already blogged about the closed Sefton & Maghull, Lydiate and Altcar & Hillhouse Stations on the former Southport & Cheshire Lines Extension Railway. Similarly I’ve blogged about trains on the Liverpool – Ormskirk Line at Mickering Lane/Sandy Lane in Aughton & Poverty Lane Maghull – all @1960.

Here are 2 photos which I think will both date back to 1959, although I’m not 100% sure about that. Both are looking back towards Aughton Park Station with the trains heading towards Ormskirk, whilst the view is towards Liverpool.

On the back of this photo it says – 4.20 Scotsman at Aughton Park Whit Monday

The note for this shot says – 5 car compartment stock

And for comparison here are a couple of Merseyrail era shots taken at Aughton Park Station in 2017:-

In the first modern shot you get a clearer view of the bridge (carrying Long Lane over the railway) which is only just visible in the 1959 shots. In the second, looking north, there seemed to be quite a weed problem in 2017.

Merseyrail – Art On The Network

Do any of you Merseysiders out there recall this ‘Art On The Network’ project being launched by Merseytravel in 2005? Can’t say I do but during a rummage through my collection of books and magazines about Merseyside’s railways I rediscovered a forgotten pack from Merseytravel dated August 2010 all about the progress and future of this artistic project.

In the pack, sent to me by Merseytravel’s former Chief Executive and Director General Neil Scales was an Official Trail Guide, a book mark, a brochure and a DVD. In terms of ‘Selected forthcoming projects and plans’ the brochure says that in 2010 the following will take place – Animate the Underground, Art on the Network website to be launched, Art on the Artwork Open Art Competition and Charity of the year Art Project. And in 2011 – Animate Your Wait, Art on the Network Open Art Competition, Charity of the Year Art Project, Olympic 2012 programme, New [Merseytravel] Headquarters Artwork. It seems that Merseytravel was really becoming quite arty indeed. Time to start some internet searches for the project as I’m partial to art, particularly if it’s railway related:-

The first hit was this Flickr page www.flickr.com/groups/1557796@N25/ trouble is it has no photos on it!

This internet link to – Art on the Network – Public Art Update moderngov.merseytravel.uk.net › documents › Art on the… 15 Nov 2012 — The purpose of this report is to update Members on Merseytravel‟s. Public Art Policy/Strategy and Art on the Network (AOTN) activities. 2 – no longer works

I then found this Liverpool Echo article from 2012 launching that year’s art competition www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/merseytravel-launches-art-network-competition-3348110

I also found this from back in 2010 ‘The Drum’s’ website – www.thedrum.com/news/2010/06/23/merseytravel-launches-art-network-site-mando The link to the Art on the Network site does not work though.

In 2009 the Art on the Network Competition was won by Ron Davies farm8.clik.com/rdphoto/articles_114212.html

That’s pretty much all I found by Googling Merseytravel Art On The Network so I went onto Merseytravel’s own website and searched ‘Art on the Network’ but nothing came up at all. Now don’t get me wrong here, it’s not as if nothing was achieved by this project which may or may not be on-going. Indeed, some quite significant pieces of artwork have been created and displayed across the rail network on Merseyside it’s just that Merseytravel seems to have all but let the initiative go as there’s nothing on it’s website that I can find. That’s rather sad I feel.

But My point in penning this posting is not just to say how sad I am that the initiative ground to a halt (or should that be shunted into the sidings?) because it didn’t and hasn’t! I know that because my two local Merseyrail Stations have had artwork displayed on them in recent years and here’s the proof. First Maghull:-

Displayed at Maghull Station and designed by Deyes High Academy students

By Maghull artist Margaret Walton as part of the Station Volunteers project.

And at the new(ish) Maghull North Station:-

These two photos of the same sculpture celebrate the fact that this new station is on the former grounds of Moss Side Hospital which as a consequence of the Great War became a centre of expertise dealing with shell shock victims.

So to conclude my voyage into Art on the Network all I can say is how about celebrating it all at least on your website Merseytravel if nowhere else?

Merseyrail – First 508’s Going for Scrap

Merseyrail Class 508 EMU at Maghull Station

Well it had to happen as more new Class 777 EMU’s arrive on the Merseyrail system but it’s always sad when long-serving trains go to the scrap yard. The link below (to You Tube) shows the first 2 Class 508’s on their last journey:-

www.youtube.com/watch?v=8K3h_fE1SwE

I then realised I’d photoed one of the 508’s that went for scrap on 16th August at Maghull Station back in June 2015 – it’s the photo at the head of this posting.

If you check out the detail of the You Tube posting there’s a link to an interesting blog site called Engineering FOCUS – engineeringfocusblog.blogspot.com/2020/08/end-of-line-nearing-for-merseyrails.html

Just one thought, which I know is on other minds too, will early scrapping of the 508’s and 507’s leave Merseyrail short of rolling stock if a problem pops up with the new Class 777’s akin to the situation Northern found themselves in not so long ago?

If you’d like to see a Class 777 on a test run there’s one below in a You Tube video taken at Birkdale station:-

www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_SPoSC9OSY

And finally, for those of you with longer memories here’s yet another You Tube link about the former Merseyrail Class 502 EMU’s which were replaced by the Class 507/508’s between 1978 and 1980

www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbN-Yixo2N0

Merseyrail and face mask compliance

That the knotty issue of non-compliance with with face covering on public transport was brought to my attention the other day and with particular reference to Merseyrail.

A 507/508 EMU Merseyrail unit at Crescent Road level crossing – Birkdale, Southport.

I must admit that I had wrongly assumed that Merseyrail’s security staff would be empowered to tackle non-compliance because they’re not.

I asked Merseyrail about this and they replied ‘we are unable to enforce the face covering rule, but continue to educate all of our passengers on the matter. We also work with British Transport Police, who are able to issue fines for those who break the rule‘ they went on to say ‘Legally we are not able to issue fixed penalty notices to those passengers not wearing a face covering, but please be assured, as a responsible operator, we are doing all we can to keep our passengers safe’.

It strikes me that Merseyrail (and this probably means every other rail franchise operator in the UK?) have been placed between a rock and a hard place. By that I mean that they and their passengers have been told that all passengers must wear face coverings but in reality there’s going to be little or no challenging of those who refuse to comply, unless that is British Transport Police are involved.

Merseyrail Class 508 EMU at Maghull Station

The issue for me is that compliance needs to seen to be enforced so that confidence is given to those who are more vulnerable to Covid 19. Clearly, such folk are not going to travel via Merseyrail if they can’t be confident their journey will be safe. So surely that means that non-compliance being in effect tolerated (whilst actually being illegal) leads to less people travelling on Merseyrail thereby it needing more public funds to keep it going during the pandemic.

What an odd carry on…….

Maghull (NORTH) – What do you know about Maghull?

Branch Line Society charter train at the new Maghull North Station 08 12 19

www.youtube.com/watch?v=TiedVGK9H_8&t=331s

Because I’m a railway enthusiast I came across the video (linked above) on You Tube. In brief, the folk on the video pride themselves on having visited every railway station in the country and with Maghull North being a new station they had to tick it off their list by going to it. The Maghull part of the video starts at around 4 minutes into it and it lasts for about 4.5 minutes. But who is the Maghull ‘special guest’?

Well it’s a bit humour, local history and railways so go on have a look at it………

This was the first every train to stop at Merseyrail’s new Maghull North Station – 5.58am on 18th June 2018.