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/