Maghull North Railway Station – The proposed new station gets in Merseytravel’s top twelve (at number 10) of projects it wants to take forward – But what does that mean?

I have long campaigned for a second railway station to be built in Maghull because the present station is getting beyond capacity. It is accessed by narrow roads and its car park is usually full to bursting. A new station to the north of Maghull would open up much wider and more convenient travel opportunities.

In reality the project has been talked about for many many, years but it never got to a ‘let’s do it stage’ until the worst possible time i.e. when the latest financial recession knocked us all for 6 from 2007 onwards. It is still the case that part funding of the station will be via a developer contribution from building on the Ashworth South Site which the proposed station will share. This site is also known as that of the former Moss Side Hospital which has remained derelict ever since it was decided not to build a new prison there.

So where are we now? I have been asking questions of Merseytravel every few months via my good friend Cllr. John Dodd who sits on Merseyside’s Integrated Transport Authority but the answers have always been negative in that money is the barrier. However, some almost good news is that the project is firmly in Merseytravel’s top twelve of projects that it wants to take forward bearing in mind very limited resources. Does this mean it will happen? Well, I suppose you could say that it remains aspirational rather than a ‘yes it will’.

This is how Merseytravel see the project:-

‘New stations on the existing network offer the potential to improve the accessibility and coverage of the Merseyrail network. They also provide the opportunity for the rail network to respond to other development and regeneration of various areas of Merseyside and the new patterns of trip making that will occur. The proposals are to provide railway station with two platforms, lifts and stepped (or ramped) access, a ticket office, two on-street bus stops, cycle routes from School Lane and Park Lane and a car Park of about 200 spaces. The railway service will be typically every 15 minutes in each direction to (1) Liverpool and (2) Ormskirk. Vehicular access is already provided to the site via an aborted scheme involving the Ministry of Justice and Sefton Council.’

And the estimated cost of construction? – £6,830,000m

So will we see this new station really take shape soonish? Well a number of factors come into play here. Firstly, will the development of the Ashworth South site for housing come on stream soon providing a financial contribution from the developer towards the project? Secondly, will the new Joint Authority proposal which effectively sees off Merseytravel as an independent transport body (and all but brings back Merseyside County Council) lead to the money being snatched to fund a Liverpool based project instead? This has to be a big worry and is one of the reasons we Lib Dems in Sefton are very much opposed to the Joint Authority with its potential for a Liverpool-centric money hoover that could leave Sefton with little more than crumbs from the table.

Keep campaigning is the only way forward to my mind because one day we may just succeed in getting Maghull’s second and much needed railway station.

My thanks to colleagues at OPSTA for providing some of the information I have used in this posting.

Merseyside Joint Authority Plan – Lib Dem Merseytravel Councillor says NO!

There has been some media coverage of a plan to get all the Merseyside Councils to form a joint authority; you could say it would be a form of recreating the long lost Merseyside County Council.

Within Sefton we Lib Dems have always been highly sceptical of such forms of local governance as the risk is that all power simply moves to Liverpool Town Hall and the diverse communities of Sefton will be the losers.

Some years ago we gave the fledgling Liverpool City Region a fair wind but that was back when it was intended to be one that brought in West Lancashire, Ellesmere Port and Neston etc. That plan withered on the vine so what is on the cards now is a return to joint council running within the old Merseyside boundaries. This is a nonsense because Merseyside is simply too small to be an effective sub-regional governance area in my view. Just look at Greater Manchester; there is some sense that as it covers the vast majority of the travel to work area of Manchester and it is big enough not to be dominated by Manchester City.

Sefton’s boundary, to a very significant extent, is with Lancashire so why should it benefit Sefton to be even more glued to Liverpool City and Knowsley Borough whilst, by implication, being less connected (in local government terms) with Lancashire?

No, this idea is not a sensible runner as far as I am concerned and neither is it to Cllr. John Dodd, a Lib Dem member of Merseytravel (The Transport Authority for Merseyside) who represents Meols ward in Southport. John opposed the controlling Labour Party on Merseytravel this week, which voted to back this Joint Authority plan, and he was right to do so.

Merseyside is simply too small to be an effective sub-regional local government grouping and Merseytravel, probably more than any other public authority across Merseyside, should know this all too well. Just look at the Merseyrail extensions that have been completed in recent years or which are being planned for/suggested. Virtually all are outside of the old County boundary meaning the travel to work area is far bigger than the old County boundary. Completed Merseyrail Wirral Line extensions to Ellesmere Port and Chester come to mind of a few years ago. So does the long talked about extension of the Northern Line from Ormskirk (in West Lancs) to Burscough (even deeper into West Lancs). Such rail extensions prove a point don’t you think?

Access to Southport from the east – Ormskirk/M58 Motorway

A Preston Train pulling into Ormskirk

A Preston Train pulling into Ormskirk

This is very much a long standing problem which not only has frustrations because of the poor nature of the main road from Southport to Ormskirk (for the volume of traffic it has to take at times) but which also has health implications due to the split site nature of Southport and Ormskirk Hospitals.

http://www.lancashire.gov.uk/corporate/web/?siteid=5489&pageid=29612

The web address above is a report by Lancashire County Council which, amongst other transportation matters, covers the Southport access problems from the east.

Sadly, this is a problem which has be talked about for years yet no progress has been made. Of course it links to the need to reconnect the Southport – Wigan and Ormskirk – Preston railway lines so that after years of the two working in complete isolation we can once again get a train from Southport to Ormskirk.

Regular readers will know I am a firm supporter and indeed member of OPSTA – Ormskirk Preston and Southport Travellers Association – which campaigns for the reopening of the Burscough Curves amongst other local rail improvements.

One day access to Southport from the east will become a problem that is solved rather than just talked about and it is important if Southport is to continue to develop as a shopping and seaside town. This access problem is holding Southport back but the solution is not in Sefton but in West Lancashire.

Ormskirk – The end of the line – How daft is that!

Having been a supporter of OPSTA (Ormskirk, Preston & Southport Travellers Association) for more years than I care to recall I, like many folk, continue to find the fact that the electrified Northern Line from Liverpool stops at Ormskirk.

The Merseyside commuter belt certainly goes at least as far as Burscough/Rufford whilst the logical end for this electrified service is quite obviously Preston. One day a Government of whatever colour will see the sense of extending the electrification but whether I am still breathing is a different matter.

The shot below (taken in April) is looking towards Ormskirk Station with it being just beyond the bridge in the background. Click of the picture to enlarge it.

rsz_ormskirk_railway_04_05_13

If you agree with me please consider joining OPSTA and maybe we can have another big push at this most stubborn of projects.
See my link to OPSTA for details of this campaigning rail group.