Northern Trains – Could the Ormskirk-Preston Line be the most poorly performing in the UK?

Ormskirk’s Station where Merseyrail and Norther trains meet

Well if it’s not I would hate to be a passenger on one that is even worse.

Last night I attended an open meeting of OPSTA (Ormskirk, Preston & Southport Travellers Association) and the stories of absolute chaos on this rail route were sad and numerous. An 80-year-old lady told the meeting how she can’t get to hospital appointments in Preston due to cancellations and the fact that some of the rail replacement buses don’t call at all the stations on the line! She lives in Croston and without the train, as she does not drive, getting to Preston is very difficult indeed.

Burscough Junction Station on the Ormskirk – Preston line.

If I’m correctly informed, which I think I am, there have no trains on the line at all this week so far. What’s more, I hear that Northern are resistant to paying for taxis when the trains and rail replacement buses both fail to provide a service.

Northern are supposed to be operating an hourly service on the line since the May 2018 timetable changes but it looks like they are interpreting this as 1 a week! We heard stories of passengers missing exams, having to take time off work or even getting to the stage where their jobs may be at risk because of this poorly performing rail franchise.

Unsurprisingly, Northern is reputed to be losing a lot of money on the franchise and there seems little confidence in those who know about the local rail industry that anything is going to change much in the foreseeable future. Will Northern have to pull out of the franchise, or will it have to be taken away from them?

It’s a sorry story indeed but it is ruining the lives of passengers who rely on Northern’s trains to get to work, to hospital, do their shopping or just run their day to day lives and frankly it is just not good enough. And the big question is what are the MP’s representing constituents along the Ormskirk – Preston line doing about it? One suggestion at the meeting was to try to replicate what Tim Farron the MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale did when Northern failed spectacularly on the Lakes Line from Oxenhome to Windermere – he helped organise an alternative rail provider and made the DfT/Northern pay for it.

OPSTA are going to be banging the drum very hard indeed to get local politicians to take action. Oh, and by the way, there’s a clear suspicion that when Northern is in trouble they will often choose the Ormskirk – Preston Line to cancel trains – It would be interesting to get to the bottom of that train of thought.

Northern and Grayling – An utter shambles – Heads need to roll!

If you thought our appalling train services run by Northern could not get any worse well you’re wrong because they are doing as failing becomes utter shambles!

This is Ormskirk Station with a train from Preston just arriving

Locally, the recently announced opening of the Ormskirk – Preston Line on a Sunday throughout the summer, due to the closure of Liverpool Lime Street, has been turned on its head as Northern have now said there will not be any trains running this Sunday – 10th June. What’s more those in the know seem to think that the promised Sunday service could well be a non-runner for more Sundays than just this coming one. Check before you travel on any Northern train as none of their services can be relied upon these days.

A little further afield South Lakes MP Tim Farron got an assurance earlier this week from Transport Secretary Chris Grayling in Parliament that he would not support an extension of the two weeks worth of cancelled trains on the Lakes Line to Windermere only for a few days later it to be announced that the cancellations were being extended!!!

It really is time for heads to roll in the railway industry for this utter shambles and Grayling should resign in shame himself for overseeing this mess and chaos. Northern Powerhouse Rail my foot it’s Northern Poorhouse Rail at the very best. We are being treated like second class citizens up north.

And as for the outgoing head of Network Rail getting a CBE! – see link below:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-44423311