Maghull – Powers that be start communicating with nearby residents over Maghull North Station build process

The construction site on 11th November

I have covered the planning and construction phases of the new Maghull North Station many times before on this blog site.

Sadly, within weeks of the construction starting there was conflict between the work the contractors were doing and the nearby residents living in Mersey Avenue. Noise, intrusive lighting, night working and the lack of consultation/communication with residents over the detail of the build process were the major issues.

Action was promised to residents and Independent Sefton Cllr. Matt Gannon who lives nearby himself and represents the residents. From this the 1st of a promised two weekly edition of newsletters has been delivered to residents living around the construction site. Here’s a scan of that 1st edition:-

Has the process that has now been put in place and the issues that have been addressed met resident concerns sufficiently? Time will tell.

Please click on the scanned newsletter above to be able to read it

Maghull – ‘Poppy Fields’ and Maghull North Station progress

I have been keeping an eye on the progress of these two adjacent developments off Maghull’s School Lane and here are are some photos of things as they were on 11th November.

Station platforms beginning to emerge

Almost completed houses on ‘Poppy Fields’, the former site of Moss Side Hospital and subsequently Ashworth South Hospital

Looking over the recently created rainwater collection pond (Sustainable Urban Drainage or SuD in drainage engineer’s speak). School Lane is behind the fence in the background.

Of course the Maghull North Station construction process has become hugely controversial with neighbouring residents in Mersey Avenue in recent weeks due to intrusive night time working, noise and flood lighting.

Merseytravel/Network Rail are promising a residents meeting we are informed in an attempt to find a way forward. There was no work taking place when the photo above was taken.

The housing development on Poppy Fields or the Moss Side Hospital/Ashworth South site (all are used to describe this site and its history) was not controversial when the wedge shaped piece of land was designated for housing in Sefton Council’s otherwise hugely controversial and recent Local Plan. But the site sits across the road (School Lane) from the most controversial of all the sites in that Local Plan – The Maghull East Urban Extension of around 1,600 houses plus a business park.

Poppy Fields in its former guise as a mental health treatment hospital site and before that, in World War 1, as a world leading center for the development of treatments for those suffering from ‘Shell Shock’ is of huge historical significance.

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?

Maghull – Possession of the line for Maghull North Station and angry residents

The Merseyrail Northern Line beyond Maghull to Ormskirk has been closed this weekend to allow engineers building the new Maghull North Railway Station to have possession of the line.

This was the scene after 4pm today from various vantage points:-

Looking north from the ‘new’ School Lane overbridge

Looking north from the old School Lane overbridge under the ‘new’ bridge

Looking south from the Park Lane overbridge back towards the station site and School Lane

But clearly Mersey Avenue residents who back onto the site of the new station are unhappy with the lack of communication from Merseytravel/Network Rail with regard to the project and its progress. Removal of many trees, noisy working at night etc. is clearly causing problems. The Maghull Community Facebook Page was being used to express concerns today.

I understand that a meeting with residents is being arranged by Merseytravel/Network Rail but the last I heard there was no date set for it and the thing that strikes you is that surely the meeting should have been held some time ago.

It’s annoying that a really positive project to aid public transport improvements in Maghull/Lydiate (which has been talked about since the 1940’s) is finally coming about in a way that is making life difficult for residents backing onto the site. The sooner Merseytravel and Network Rail start to work with the concerned residents the better. I understand that Merseytravel (the public sector transportation committee for the Liverpool City Region) will find quite a lot of complaints in its inbox when they return to work on Monday.

Merseyrail – RMT Guards Dispute – What the Liverpool City Region Mayor thinks

A new Stadler Merseyrail train artist impression

I recently contacted Steve Rotherham the Liverpool City Region Mayor about this dispute and here is his response:-

Thank you for taking the time to e-mail me about the issue of Train Safety.

Can I say that this is a dispute between Merseyrail and the RMT Union.

I am happy to use whatever influence I have to try and settle the matter but I am unable to instruct either party to come to an agreement. The contract for new rolling stock was signed prior to my election and I respect that decision.

The contract for over £460m of investment in new rolling stock, means our trains will be the most technologically advanced trains in the country. The business case was predicated on the driver having responsibility for opening and closing doors.

I too hope that a settlement can be reached asap as we need stability in our transport systems throughout the Liverpool City Region and we would not wish to imperil any investment in the future.

I have stated publically and in private to the RMT Union leaders that my door is open should they wish to meet to progress the issue and work to find an agreeable solution to the current impasse.

Yours sincerely

Steve Rotheram

Metro Mayor

Whilst Steve Rotherham is right in saying that the dispute is between Merseyrail and the RMT Trade Union my clear understanding is that the dispute was in reality created by Merseytravel, the public sector Transport Committee of the Liverpool City Region. By this I mean that it was Merseytravel who ordered the new fleet of Stadler trains which are intended to be run without train guards.

Merseyrail, the private sector train operating company, could be said to be in a dispute that is not of their own making. They may well be fronting up like they are up fight with the RMT Union but did they have any choice in reality other than to do battle with the RMT? My view is no they did not have any choice because the politicians who sit on the Merseytravel Committee dropped them right in it when they decided to axe train guards on the new fleet of trains.

This still looks to me like a dispute created by politicians but left to the private sector rail operator to fight.

Merseyrail – News about that new fleet of Stadler trains

The following is from a Merseytravel press release

Ground work has started on the new state-of-the-art depot at Kirkdale where all maintenance work for the new Merseyrail trains, due to be introduced in 2020, will take place.

Warrington-based BAM Nuttall are currently undertaking enabling works after being awarded the contract by Stadler Rail Services, who will be manufacturing and maintaining the new fleet.

Preliminary work is due to start in October, with the depot build set to be complete by 2019, in time for the arrival of new trains for testing.

Features of the new depot will include:

· The creation of a maintenance facility for the new state-of-the-art Stadler trains.

· A driving cab simulator, including a full-size mock-up of a driver’s cab, facilities for a link between the trainer and trainee and a lecture theatre for people to observe the training.

· A new train washing facility.

· Stabling capacity for up to 30 trains.

· New offices and welfare facilities for the maintenance workforce.

Meanwhile, the existing Birkenhead depot will remain essential to operations, with plans for a second new train washing facility. Detailed plans are still being developed for this site.

Thomas Zweifel, Programme Director & Deputy CEO UK for Stadler said:

“Stadler will implement in the Kirkdale depot its state-of-the-art technology and maintenance expertise. The significant local investment and up-skilling of local workforce are strengthening the Merseyside industrial sector and will overall result in a positive economic impact. Stadler is excited to be involved in this project that will see new trains on the Merseyrail network in 2020.

David Powell, Merseytravel’s programme director for the new trains said:

“The new depot at Kirkdale and the refurbished depot at Birkenhead North will be essential in keeping our new trains reliable, clean and serving the Liverpool City Region well. The start of the ground works at Kirkdale is an exciting milestone – the first real visible sign that these new state-of-the-art trains are coming.”

Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, Merseyrail’s managing director, added:

“The start of the work to overhaul Kirkdale depot is another step along the way to transform the Merseyrail network, moving us a stage closer to the introduction of new trains. We welcome this much needed upgrade, which will take the depot into the 21st century, equipped to maintain the trains to a very high standard.”

Added Paul Abraham, project manager for BAM Nuttall:

“‘We have been working collaboratively with Stadler during the tender stage of this exciting programme. From our Warrington office we have been able to provide locally based staff to support the bid and develop the programme. We will continue with this locally based approach throughout the delivery phase and also provide opportunity for our northern based supply chain. We look forward to delivering this key piece of infrastructure for Stadler and Merseytravel and supporting the local economy’

For more information about the new trains visit www.merseytravel.gov.uk/newtrains

Notes:- In February 2017, Stadler signed contracts to manufacture and maintain a new fleet of 52 metro trains for the Liverpool City Region.

The total value of the agreements, including the depot construction works, amounts to £700 million.

The deal also includes an option clause for the production and maintenance of an additional 60 units, further increasing the total value of the contracts if exercised.

With the maintenance services and depot construction works, it is expected that around two thirds of the total contract value will be invested by Stadler into the UK and the economy of the Liverpool City Region and the wider North West.

Stadler runs maintenance operations in 16 countries worldwide.

The new fleet of trains will be in full service by 2021.

Blog editor’s note:- Of course much of this good news is still dependent on the resolution of the present industrial dispute between the RMT Union and Merseyrail over the new trains running without train guards. The industrial action, which seems to have the support of many of the travelling public on Merseyside, will seemingly continue for the foreseeable future as the dispute is presently showing little if any sign of being successfully resolved. The RMT campaign is called ‘Keep the Guards’

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