Merseytravel/Merseyrail/Liverpool City Region V RMT train guards dispute ended BUT…….

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

So the RMT guards dispute is finally over and the near end result seems to be about the best that could have been hoped for by the RMT trade union and indeed the travelling public who backed them in their quest to have a 2nd member of staff on every Merseyrail Train when the new Stadler trains are introduced.

BUT, and its a big but, of course the new train fleet ordered by Merseytravel (the Transport Committee of the Liverpool City Region) was the cause of the dispute and I’m surprised that other commentators don’t seem to have grasped that pertinent point i.e. that Merseyrail were as much the victims of the political decision to have only a Driver Only Operation as the RMT trade union.

I do wonder whether behind the scenes the owners of the Merseyrail franchise (Serco and Abellio) had signaled (no railway pun intended here) that they had had a gut full of being the fall-guys for this dispute?

Second member of staff to be on all new Merseyrail trains as RMT win long running battle

A new Stadler Merseyrail train artist impression

The Liverpool Echo has the story on its web site – see link below:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/business/merseyrail-abandons-driver-only-trains-15096827

A dispute started by politicians has been won by the trade union they took on and eventually lost to.

Whilst Merseyrail, the train operator, was in effect dumped on and made to take on the RMT by Merseytravel (the Transport Committee of the Liverpool City Region) the real battle was always with the politicians of the Liverpool City Region. The fact is the politicians lost because they never had the backing of the travelling public who clearly wanted a second person on each and every Merseyrail train.

RMT Trade union’s ‘Keep the Guards Campaign’ 1, leading Merseyside politicians Nil. Oh yes and it was our local Labour political leaders whom the RMT took on and beat.

With thanks to Keith Page and Roy Connell for the lead to this posting.

Merseyrail – Mock up of new Stadler trains to go on show in November

Despite all the controversy and indeed industrial action as a consequence of Merseytravel ordering new rolling stock that does not require train guards the new trains are presently being manufactured by Stadler the Swiss company who won the bidding process.

The Liverpool Echo has an article about a mock up of the trains on its web site – see link below:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/business/first-look-inside-futuristic-new-15031395

The mock up is due to go on show to the public in Liverpool’s Lime Street in November.

Maghull North Station – Still not disability and cycle accessible without a long detour

This is the only pedestrian/cycle access off School Lane without a long detour to the entrance to the new Poppy Fields estate.

As a level/accessible entrance/exit to the new Maghull North Station has still not been created off School Lane, despite the station being open for a couple of months now, I thought it was time to put some pressure on Merseytravel. My previous posting on this matter from 23rd July is accessible below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/07/23/maghull-its-new-north-station-an-accessible-interchange/

With the help of Merseytravel Committee member Cllr. John Dodd I got a response from Merseytravel which firmly puts the ball in the court of Persimmon the builder/developer of the adjacent Poppy Fields housing development. This is what Merseytravel have said:-

‘the accessible path linking School Lane adjacent to the bus stops to the station is contained on Persimmon Homes land (outside the railway and station footprint).

The issue has been recognised earlier and contact has been made with Persimmon to reinstate the path as soon as is possible in light of the issues this causes for passengers and residents. We were informed that they would do this, but there has been a passage of time since during which this work has not been done.

We have continued to apply pressure to them to reinstate this path but would welcome any support from Sefton and local Councillors to encourage Persimmon to complete this work.’

This is the access point which Merseytravel are referring to:-

So the spotlight is now shining on Persimmon Homes to get a wriggle on and complete the required work so that there is a level/accessible entrance to the new station off School Lane. Come on Persimmon surely this is a minor task in the great scheme of your housing development works at Poppy Fields. Surely we all want to see life made a little easier for those who can’t manage steps and indeed for cyclists arriving at the new station from the Maghull direction.

Cllr. Edie Pope and I would welcome any pressure that others can put on Persimmon. Their e-mail address is:- feedback@persimmonhomes.com

Does the West of Lancashire Community Rail partnership serve a useful purpose?

I’ve been reading in RAIL magazine (issue 855 – June 20th – July 3rd) all about how CRP (Community Rail Partnerships) can deliver social benefits and many other things. And then I thought about the two lines covered by the West of Lancashire CRP and wondered what on earth does it do?

I found a link to it’s web site and you can see it here

www.communityraillancashire.co.uk/lines/west-of-lancashire/

It’s profile is low and frankly these two lines have many issues with cancelled trains, overcrowded trains (Southport Wigan Line), lack of Sunday services (Ormskirk – Preston Line) etc. etc. So how effective is the CRP at addressing these issues? Based on the fact that pretty much all the social media input and campaigning on the issues/problems raised above seems to emanate from SRTF (Southport Rail Transport Forum) and OPSTA (Ormskirk, Preston and Southport Travellers Assn) I really do wonder what the CRP actually does and how it engages with the communities it serves?

Ormskirk’s Station where Merseyrail and Norther trains meet

Anyway, only the Ormskirk Preston Line is actually designated as a CRP line as defined by Government so the Southport – Wigan Line through West Lancs Borough can only be some form of informal CRP I guess.

I hear that Lancashire County Council are at best lukewarm over the potential to reopen the old station at Midge Hall on the Ormskirk – Preston Line despite the district council for the area being keen to press on with the reopening associated with major house building going on not so far away from the old station. Is this not the kind of project the CRP should be up and running with to develop the line?

And just what has the CRP done to address the lack of Sunday trains on the Ormskirk – Preston Line? This has been a local transport issue needing to be resolved for a long time now, particularly with the huge number of students in and around Ormskirk at Edge Hill University.

Departure board at Southport Station.

Then we look at the loss of virtually all the trains on the Southport – Wigan – Manchester Line into Manchester Piccadilly Station, the vast majority of which now terminate at Manchester Victoria to the inconvenience of many Southport and West Lancs rail users. Just how has the CRP tried to influence this pressing issue?

Also, the Southport line was until recent times on the list to be electrified all be that some vague number of years down the line – no pun intended. The line has old trains which are run in an overcrowded way and with unreliability being the unfortunate watchword. And this well predates the May 2018 timetable meltdown by many years.

What I’m getting at here is that from my perspective the CRP is hardly high profile on any of these issues and the voluntary sector in the form of SRTF and OPSTA have seemingly had to take the lead in battling with our failed railway industry.

So I can I ask again what purpose does the West of Lancashire CRP serve?