Nodding Donkeys – The Pacer, a bus on railway wheels, is still sadly with us

A Pacer at Preston Station

I came across the You Tube video (see link below) pretty much by chance even though it’s on a matter I have blogged about a number of times before i.e. the infamous ‘Nodding Donkeys’ of the railway world made from bus bodies and freight van trucks. However Southport rail campaigner Eric Woodcock is on the video explaining in straight forward terms how the much derided Pacer trains came about. It’s an interesting watch……

www.youtube.com/watch?v=ucA5xIgjZBc

Inside a down at heel Pacer on the Ormskirk Preston Line

My good friend and former MP for Southport John Pugh campaigned to rid us of these terrible trains and here’s a link back to his work on the matter:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/02/07/pacers-are-thankfully-on-their-last-legs-or-is-that-wheels/

Northern on the rocks and not before time in my view

‘The government is considering whether the management of the North of England’s largest rail commuter service should be taken into public hands’ – BBC website

The BBC has the article on its website – see link below:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-50067806

Northern Rail Class 319 electric unit at Liverpool Lime Street Station

Northern is going to the wall according to TSSA trade union

The Liverpool Echo has the article on its website – see link below:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/northern-rail-crisis-likely-go-16414510

Northern Rail Class 319 electric unit at Liverpool Lime Street Station

Well the indications keep on coming that Northern Assist is at best struggling and let’s be honest none of us will be surprised or indeed disappointed if the company has to pull out of the Northern Franchise.

Kirkby – Wigan – Manchester Trains

End of the line from Wigan, the Merseyrail service to Liverpool is accessed under the bridge.

A curiosity and I imagine a real frustration for users of this line from the May 19th timetable changes by Northern is this:-

A double-headed (2 loco) train departs Knowsley Freight Terminal on its way to Wilton Power Station.

So it seems, according to Northern that is, that the troubled timekeeping on the Kirkby – Wigan – Manchester line is due to the freight trains to and from Knowsley Freight Terminal causing delays. The freight trains, usually 4 movements per day (2 in – 2 out), take Merseyside’s non-recyclable waste to Wilton Power Station in the north east for burning to create electricity. I’ve posted about these freight trains previously – here’s a link to that previous posting:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/09/08/what-happens-to-merseysides-rubbish-that-cant-be-recycled/

The question is, of course, what is going to happen between now and the December 2019 timetable changes to fix the delays allegedly being caused by the freight trains on this line? Also, when I’ve checked, the freight trains seem to be running pretty much to their timetable. What’s more they’ve been running for some years now and will continue well into the future.

There’s more to this story than meets the eye me thinks and it means 7 months of passengers having to change trains at Wigan Wallgate Station outside of peak times.

Just how bad is Northern at running trains?

A train from Preston pulling into Ormskirk Station.

Well, have a look at this chart which I gained from OPSTA (Ormskirk, Preston & Southport Travellers Assn). It shows performance on the Ormskirk – Preston Line:-

Please click on the chart to enlarge it.

This is shocking performance in anyone’s book surely. People’s jobs, livelihoods, medical appointments, schooling etc. etc. are all at risk by such appalling performance. And more to the point what on earth is the Dept. of Transport doing about this state of affairs?

Oh and as an aside, my fellow blogger Phil Holden has just posted this about train performance in Wales. It seems Northern have a rival for crap railway franchisee of the year award:-(((

phlhldn.blogspot.com/2018/11/what-way-to-run-railway.html

One thing that Phil hints at is that the franchise operators need virtually all their rolling stock to be available to run a normal timetable. To me, the lack of spare units is a key issue here when services need enhancing or when major repair work is required on more than 1 or 2 units at a time. Running on the absolute minimum number of units is asking for trouble don’t you think?

Ormskirk Preston Trains – Some good news

Ormskirk Station – The train in the foreground is Preston bound. The one behind it is Liverpool bound.

On 21st March Northern announced the services and timetables it has agreed with Network Rail that should come into effect in May. Although the two organisations have agreed this position it transpires they are still finalising details so nothing is absolutely certain until the timetables are published online some time from April 7th.

Preston – Ormskirk

An hourly service Monday – Saturday will be introduced with these timings:

First service from Preston will depart at 06.25

Trains will then depart at 26 minutes past the hour (ie 07.26, 08.26 ..) until the last service at 22.37.

First service from Ormskirk will depart at 07.01

Trains will then depart at 1 minute past the hour until the last service at 23.10 (ten past the hour).

The assigned rolling stock is still the dreadful 142 Pacer although there should be more instances where it is a 2 car Class 150/156.

Sadly though there will still not be any regular Sunday services.

The frequency of cancellations on the current service is a serious concern and this is being taken up with Northern. If you have a service cancelled on you please email opstasurveys@gmail.com stating date, time and station.

In these days of bad news about many public services there’s some good news here in that the trains from Ormskirk to Preston will be running hourly instead of less often. A small step forward but Sunday running trains on this line are still required. My thanks to OPSTA (Ormskirk, Preston and Southport Travellers Association) for the information contained in this posting.

Click on the photo to enlarge it