Does the West of Lancashire Community Rail partnership serve a useful purpose?

I’ve been reading in RAIL magazine (issue 855 – June 20th – July 3rd) all about how CRP (Community Rail Partnerships) can deliver social benefits and many other things. And then I thought about the two lines covered by the West of Lancashire CRP and wondered what on earth does it do?

I found a link to it’s web site and you can see it here

www.communityraillancashire.co.uk/lines/west-of-lancashire/

It’s profile is low and frankly these two lines have many issues with cancelled trains, overcrowded trains (Southport Wigan Line), lack of Sunday services (Ormskirk – Preston Line) etc. etc. So how effective is the CRP at addressing these issues? Based on the fact that pretty much all the social media input and campaigning on the issues/problems raised above seems to emanate from SRTF (Southport Rail Transport Forum) and OPSTA (Ormskirk, Preston and Southport Travellers Assn) I really do wonder what the CRP actually does and how it engages with the communities it serves?

Ormskirk’s Station where Merseyrail and Norther trains meet

Anyway, only the Ormskirk Preston Line is actually designated as a CRP line as defined by Government so the Southport – Wigan Line through West Lancs Borough can only be some form of informal CRP I guess.

I hear that Lancashire County Council are at best lukewarm over the potential to reopen the old station at Midge Hall on the Ormskirk – Preston Line despite the district council for the area being keen to press on with the reopening associated with major house building going on not so far away from the old station. Is this not the kind of project the CRP should be up and running with to develop the line?

And just what has the CRP done to address the lack of Sunday trains on the Ormskirk – Preston Line? This has been a local transport issue needing to be resolved for a long time now, particularly with the huge number of students in and around Ormskirk at Edge Hill University.

Departure board at Southport Station.

Then we look at the loss of virtually all the trains on the Southport – Wigan – Manchester Line into Manchester Piccadilly Station, the vast majority of which now terminate at Manchester Victoria to the inconvenience of many Southport and West Lancs rail users. Just how has the CRP tried to influence this pressing issue?

Also, the Southport line was until recent times on the list to be electrified all be that some vague number of years down the line – no pun intended. The line has old trains which are run in an overcrowded way and with unreliability being the unfortunate watchword. And this well predates the May 2018 timetable meltdown by many years.

What I’m getting at here is that from my perspective the CRP is hardly high profile on any of these issues and the voluntary sector in the form of SRTF and OPSTA have seemingly had to take the lead in battling with our failed railway industry.

So I can I ask again what purpose does the West of Lancashire CRP serve?

Northern Trains – It just gets worse! –

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

Northern has stated unequivocally there will be no Sunday services during June and July on the Ormskirk – Preston Line! It has been only a couple of weeks since we were told that Sunday running trains (unusual for this particular line) would be put on to help combat the closure of Liverpool Lime Street Station! My previous posting refers:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/05/27/summer-sunday-service-schedule-preston-ormskirk-line/

The Weekday (Monday-Fridays) trains on the same line are often being replaced by buses presently. An Optimistic scenario is that trains may be back all day from Monday 18th or that it might be a staged return to trains. However, the Route Director is saying the emergency timetable for Ormskirk – Preston will remain in place until end of July unless they complete driver training sooner. Saturdays: it appears to be trains running all day.

And the business leaders of Northern still have jobs it seems, whatever next.

With thanks to OPSTA for the lead to this posting although the opinions expressed are my own.

Ormskirk – Preston Trains = Summer Sunday Timetable published

Burscough Junction Station on the Ormskirk – Preston line.

I posted a few days ago about the usually closed (on a Sunday) Ormskirk – Preston Line having trains running whilst Liverpool Lime Street Station is partially shut down for the 2nd phase of its major upgrade this summer. A full timetable is now available and is reproduced above. Please click on it to enlarge for reading.

So if you are travelling northwards this summer you can do so via the Ormskirk – Preston Line.

One day all trains will run on a Sunday!

With thanks to OPSTA for the lead to this posting

BUT please check before travelling as Northern Rail, who run the trains on this line, are struggling to cope presently and are in the habit of cancelling trains all over the north of England.

Summer Sunday Service Schedule Preston – Ormskirk Line!!!

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

Well it’s because of railway engineering work and the part closure of Liverpool Lime Street Station throughout the summer but hey at least it’s a service on the Ormskirk – Preston Line on a Sunday.

Of course the caveat must be, are Northern capable of delivering the service based on their inability to deliver a regular service on many of their lines at presently?

The service will operate every Sunday from June 3rd up to and including July 29th.

You will find full times for journeys up to July 8th through online travel enquiries at Northern, National Rail etc. There will be 6 services each way similar to last October, see below.

Please check before you travel.

OPSTA (Ormskirk Preston and Southport Travellers Association) will be conducting passenger counts and possibly a survey or two.

Sunday Preston departures

1042

1213

1412

1534

1711

1834

Sunday Ormskirk departures

1135

1251

1452

1635

1752

1935

What will it take for Government to realise that folks want to travel by train on a Sunday all the time, year in year out? They don’t close Motorways on a Sunday!

Ormskirk’s Station where Merseyrail and Northern trains meet

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

1968 – A famous year for UK railways but will it be celebrated on the line where steam last ran for real?

A cold day at Maghull Station, where once Liverpool Exchange to Glasgow steam hauled trains would thunder through.

I’ve recently been reading a book by Michael S Welch called ‘Lancashire Steam Finale’ published in 2004 and which has some stunning photos of the very last days of steam power on British railways within it.

And then it dawned on me 2018 is 50 years since steam engines last ran on BR before being replaced by diesel and electric trains altogether. What’s more the line from Liverpool Exchange through Aintree, Maghull, Ormskirk, Preston and on to Carlisle was the very last line to run a regular steam hauled service.

‘The very last ordinary steam passenger train in Great Britain was the 9.25pm from Preston to Liverpool on 3rd August’ to quote from Michael’s book.

Are any celebrations of the anniversary being planned? With the demise of Liverpool Exchange Station (being replaced by Moorfields underground station) and the severing of the through line at Ormskirk, how possible would it be to run say a commemorating steam hauled train? South of Ormskirk it would clearly be difficult but north from Ormskirk looks to me to be very much a serious prospect.

Here’s hoping………