Bootle – Remembering the Container Base

Not that long ago there was a rail connected Container Base in Bootle served by the presently mothballed North Mersey Branch line which runs between Aintree Station and the Liverpool – Southport line between New Strand and Litherland Stations.

At one time this line ran all the way down to the docks and at the Aintree end on to Fazakerley and beyond. Oh how those planning for the vastly increased freight traffic from Peel’s River Berth at Seaforth must be regretting the loss of each end of what would now be a very useful railway line.

As I say the middle section is still there although badly overgrown since regular rail traffic ceased around the time of the closure of the Bootle Container Base. After that went the only use was occasional engineers trains but none of those have used it for a good many years now.

Looking east along the North Mersey Branch in the direction of the former Ford Station from Hawthorne Road, Bootle in 2014.

Looking east along the North Mersey Branch in the direction of the former Ford Station from Hawthorne Road, Bootle in 2014.

Anyway back to Container base which I came across a couple of photos of recently. I don’t know the name of the chap who took them so can’t give him the credit for them but he does work with the Friends of the 502 Group and I purchased the prints (and scanned them) from their stall at Southport Model Railway Exhibition. Here are the 1970’s shots to bring back some memories:-

Bootle Container Base 2

Bootle Container Base

Click on the photos to enlarge them.

The site of the Container Base for those unacquainted with the area concerned is close to the Giro/Alliance & Leicester Building just off Bridle Road. It was also close to the site of the long closed Ford Station from the days when the branch was 3rd rail electrified. It is now a Ford vehicles sales dealership.

The photos are amongst those on my Flickr site at:-

www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

Air Quality Impact of Port Expansion – Seaforth, Liverpool

In response to concerns expressed by a number of environmental campaigners Sefton Council has recently produced a briefing note on this matter. You can read it below and my comments at the end.

Seaforth Docks and hinterland

Seaforth Docks and hinterland

This photo is amongst my Flickr shots at:-
www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

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The Council is currently undertaking an exercise to review the air quality impacts of port expansion and this will examine the impact of different modes of transporting cargo. This process involves modelling the air quality impacts of the increases in vehicle, train and ship movements associated with port expansion using an air pollution dispersion model supported by increased monitoring in the study area. The modelling will be undertaken by Council Officers although independent consultants have been appointed to advise on the modelling process and critically appraise the outcomes. Officers are also working closely with the consultants appointed by the Highways Agency, to advise on the options for improving access to the port, to examine the air quality implications of each option.

The statutory Local Air Quality Management, Review and Assessment process, which involves 3 yearly Updating and Screening Assessments and annual Progress Reports will continue and this will entail an ongoing review of levels of key pollutants, including nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter and sulphur dioxide, in line with Defra guidance.

With respect to ports, a Detailed Assessment for sulphur dioxide is only required for shipping using fuel with a sulphur content of greater than 1% and where there is residential exposure within 250m for ports with 5,000 – 15,000 ship movements per year or1km where there are more than 15,000 ship movements annually. The Harbour Master has confirmed that all vessels approaching the Port must not use marine fuel which has a sulphur content exceeding 0.10 %. There are no residential properties with 250m of the dock. When last reviewed the number of ship movements within the Sefton area of the port was below 15,000. The impact, and number, of ship movements is the subject of ongoing review under the Local Air Quality Management process, mentioned above, and will be modelled as part of the review of the impacts of port expansion. The impact of emissions from post Panamax vessels will be specifically considered.

The Council will be commissioning a health impact assessment of the port expansion that will incorporate the findings of the air quality study once complete. This will examine the impact on health of the port expansion as a whole including the increase in all types of cargo movements. Any significant health impact concerns arising from the assessment will then be considered for an appropriate approach to their mitigation.

The most significant source of air pollution locally is from road vehicle transport and the appropriate local measures to address sustainable transport and air pollution are delivered under the Liverpool City Region Local Transport Plan. The fourth Local Transport Plan is due to be published in April 2015 and the arrangements for stakeholder and public consultation have not been finalised yet. Those with concerns about transport related air pollution should take the opportunity to influence the development of this plan as it will determine how the available resources for sustainable transport are to be used for the next decade.

Port expansion and associated transport access is one of the stated strategic priorities of the Liverpool City Region Cabinet and Local Enterprise Partnership.

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My view is that this is a huge environmental/health issue for the Bootle part of Sefton and along the transport corridors that carry goods to and from the docks at Seaforth. Getting the transportation links right is crucial but I fear there is too much going on behind the scenes about this. Little of any detail is available to the public and when I asked for such detail I was referred to a bland report produced in March this year which told me very little that I did not already know.

Diesel engine pollution – Find a solution before Bootle becomes a particulates black spot!

www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/apr/29/diesel-engine-pollution-premature-deaths-costs-nhs-billions

The Guardian has the story.

It is precisely this sort of concern that I have about the management of transport access to the enlarged Seaforth Docks in Bootle. My postings of 24th April and 2nd May provide more background to this issue.

I don’t think anyone wants to stop the economic benefits of the expansion of the docks in Bootle but if the transport corridor (A5036 – Dunnings Bridge Road, Church Road, Princess Way) from Switch Island to the docks is going to become a sea of lorries churning out diesel fums and particulates then some serious thinking needs doing now. The consequences on the health of those living close to congested transport corridors has to be solved before the lorries start thundering through the southern part of Sefton.

Rail transport is, of course, part of the solution but not via diesel powered locomotives pulling heavy container trains up the steep inclines from the docks without the particulates they emit being safely managed. Electrification of the rail route would be the sensible way forward.

North Mersey Branch Railway – Will it ever re-open?

Over the past 20 years or so Merseytravel, see my previous posts, have oft spoken about reopening this branch which runs from Aintree Station on the Liverpool – Ormskirk Line to join the Liverpool – Southport Line just north of Bootle New Strand Station.

It was once a passenger and goods line which was 3rd rail electrified and there were stations at Ford and Linacre Road. Indeed, it served a wider purpose as at the Aintree end it originally went through to Fazakerley to join the Liverpool – Kirkby Line and there was an additional station called Aintree Racecourse. At the western end it served Gladstone Dock and connected with Seaforth Sands Station of the Liverpool Overhead Railway. This final connection enabled Overhead Railway trains to reach Aintree for the Grand National meeting.

The line originally opened in August 1866 with Ford & Linacre Road stations opening in 1906 and closing in April 1951

Below are a couple of recent photos of the line as it is now. Both were taken from the Hawthorne Road over-bridge looking west and east respectively.

rsz_north_mersey_branch_looking_west_from_hawthorne_rd_bootle

rsz_north_mersey_branch_looking_east_from_hawthorne_rd_bootle

The link below may be of interest to readers:-

www.disused-stations.org.uk/f/ford/

But the reason I raise this matter now is that if there is to be a significant new rail connection with the enlarged docks at Seaforth (see my posting of 25th April 2014) then this mothballed railway is potentially a part of the solution.

The photos above are amongst my Flickr shots at:-
www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

Bootle – A view across the roof tops

Looking north-west out into the Mersey estuary with St James Church dominating

Looking north-west towards the Mersey estuary with St James Church dominating

The imposing St James Church that was once described to me as Liverpool's third Cathedral

The imposing St James Church that was once described to me as Liverpool’s third Cathedral

The snowy scene in the first shot is looking over Bootle towards Seaforth. The size of St James Church is noticeable from that shot but the second one really does make it look imposing.

A Southport bound Merseyrail train is passing on the middle of what are 3 lines at this point. The line nearest to St James is part of the mothballed North Mersey Branch that diverges off to Aintree less than half a mile north of this location. It sees little use at all other than when there have been major engineering works on the Liverpool Southport line such as in 2007 and 2010. Sapling trees are presently growing between the sleepers.

Merseytravel have had ideas about reopening the line for passenger services which it once had and there was a station at Ford many years ago. If you search hard enough you can find some videos of engineers trains on this branch on YOU Tube.

The first photo is also on my Fickr site

www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/