OPSTA Update – From the pages of Rail User Express

Rail User Express is the newsletter of Railfuture

Ormskirk’s Station with it’s split tracks and disjointed railway journeys is illustrated well by this photo by ‘mwmbwls’ borrowed from Flickr.

Ormskirk-Preston-Southport Travellers Association

In the draft Northern timetable from May 2018, just two peak services each way between Wigan and Manchester Piccadilly via Bolton would start and end at Southport, using bi-mode Class 319 Flex trains. Diesel powered alternators under the driving trailer cars of these units power the existing DC electric motors and on-board systems, so they can run both on electrified lines and to non-electric destinations. OPSTA believes that with just two more Flex trains, through services to Southport could be retained all day every day, though the extra trains may not be ready until Oct 2018. Local councils and Liverpool City Region Combined Authority back the idea, and Northern is helping OPSTA to build its case, but has yet to be convinced of the need for a Sunday service, which is not specified as a franchise requirement.

Departure board at Southport Station.

The 2018 timetable also proposes an hourly Preston – Ormskirk service from Monday – Saturday between 0626 and 2236 from Preston and 0701 to 2301 from Ormskirk, with a half-hour journey time. The trains arrive at Ormskirk and Preston from Colne, and Blackpool South respectively. Although not be shown as such in the timetable, these through services should make for both shorter and more convenient journeys. However, there is very little recovery time in the timetable, so any delay could have a lasting effect, albeit mitigated by the newly replaced passing loop at Rufford. Also, whilst the timings and connections at Preston look good, those from Liverpool at Ormskirk would be 17 mins, increasing to 24 mins in the evening. However, the Merseyrail timetable will change when Maghull North station opens in 2018.

Maghull’s New 2nd Station – railfuture’s perspective on it

The article below is from the pages of Rail User Express

Site for the new Maghull North Railway Station.  Photo taken looking north from School Lane road bridge. The former Moss Side Hospital site is to the right and Mersey Avenue to the left.

Site for the new Maghull North Railway Station. Photo taken looking north from School Lane road bridge. The former Moss Side Hospital site is to the right and Mersey Avenue to the left.

2017 OPENING PLANNED FOR MAGHULL NORTH STATION

Merseytravel has begun a public consultation on plans for a new railway station at Maghull North. The new station would be located off School Lane in Maghull on the Ormskirk branch of the Merseyrail network Northern Line. With significant housing development planned for Maghull as part of the Sefton Local Plan, a new station would take pressure off the existing Maghull station and help meet the anticipated increase in demand from the new housing.

Proposals for the station include six carriage platform with shelters, a 200-space car park, step-free access to both platforms, a ticket office, secure cycle parking, passenger waiting facilities and toilet. Funding for the scheme is coming from a government contribution via the Local Growth Fund, Merseytravel and the Homes and Communities Agency, which is developing land on the east side of the railway.

The closing date for the consultation is 5 January 2016. Merseytravel says the aim is for work to start on site in January 2017 with the new station operational by December 2017.

I loved the phrase ‘significant housing development’ as it must be the one of the most alarming understatements of the year ‘massive urban extension’ would be an more appropriate description!

Also the words ‘closing date for the consultation’ rings a little hollow too. Sadly, it seems it closed before it even started because Merseytravel have given me the distinct impression that unless you suggest something that they already planned to do it will be rejected. My previous posting on this can be accessed below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/12/14/maghull-consultation-response-on-towns-2nd-and-new-railway-station/

I wonder how many ideas put forward by residents to Merseytravel about this new station were immediately knocked on the head? Has it been real consultation or window dressing?

OPSTA – Ormskirk, Preston & Southport Travellers’ Association – the lobbying continues – From the pages of the ‘Railfutures’ Rail Users Express Newsletter

The tender specification for the new Northern franchise did not hold out any promise of improvements for OPSTA’s services, so the group has been lobbying the shortlisted bidders in the hope of securing additional benefits – they’ve taken an evidence-based approach, backing up their demands with travel-census figures and passenger-survey reports. Some further dialogue with bidders may take place, but OPSTA thinks there’s probably more to be achieved if they switch their attention back to Rail North, transport authorities and the Dept. for Transport.

Recently, representatives from Transport for Greater Manchester welcomed OPSTA’s survey and census work, stating that it produced some very valuable data. It is anticipated that OPSTA’s case for improved services for Edge Hill will be reinforced shortly by the results of a travel survey of students and staff at Edge Hill University, organised by One West Lancs Transport Group.

Also it’s reported that the reopening of Midge Hall station was being keenly discussed between OPSTA and local councillors … until the hiatus caused by the May elections (it’s hoped that talks will resume now the elections are behind us).

An historic shot of the curves when they were in place in 1968.

An historic shot of the curves when they were in place in 1968.

In OPSTA’s newsletter, a detailed analysis of electrification options for the North West comes down in favour of extending Merseyrail’s DC system for lines such as Wigan-Southport, and concludes that reinstatement of the Burscough curves would be an essential element of such a scheme.

Burscough Bridge Station - July '15

Burscough Bridge Station – July ’15

The nightmare scenario is for lines such as Southport and Kirkby to Wigan/Manchester to be “left out in the cold” as the wires are extended elsewhere in the region. Major events such as the Southport Air Show often lead to severe overcrowding, and OPSTA has been using its local knowledge to assist Northern Rail in planning for such occasions. Merseytravel’s Burscough Demand Study is to be released shortly, and OPSTA expects to be consulted about its findings.

A Southport bound Class 156 DMU at Burscough Bridge Station on the Southport - Wigan - Manchester Line. The threatened booking/ticket office is to the left of the train.

A Southport bound Class 156 DMU at Burscough Bridge Station on the Southport – Wigan – Manchester Line. The threatened booking/ticket office is to the left of the train.

Meanwhile, the campaign to retain booking office facilities at Burscough Bridge station drags on – see photo above.

Text from Rail Users Express photos from Antony Graham, OPSTA, and my own collection respectively. Click on the photos to enlarge them.

Railfuture – Rail disruption happens – how can we reduce the impact?

This press release from Railfuture caught my eye and I think it will others too:-

*****

The pressure group Railfuture is launching a campaign to reduce the impact on passengers when rail services are disrupted. “We all know rail disruption happens, but how it is handled remains the number one concern of rail passengers” said Chris Fribbins, Head of Railfuture’s Passenger Group. “Most passengers will have their horror stories about journeys that went wrong, but they will also have examples of where it went well and the rail industry must learn from that experience. We want to spread the message of good practice on the railways and demand improvements for our passengers.. We have examples of the rail industry getting it right with major projects both past and current, for example Thameslink, and major events such as the 2012 Olympics. However there are also examples of information breakdown and passengers, and often front line railway staff, not knowing what is going on or what to do. Although there has been a rapid growth in use of technology (web, Twitter, Facebook, smartphone applications and customer information screens), passengers may not know about them. This information can be incomplete and contradictory, although it is often ahead of what the front line staff know but there are still a significant number of passengers that rely on face to face contact with staff and use public, rather than personal, sources of information. We also know that passengers hate bus replacement services, so we want to ensure that these are kept to an absolute minimum. Our challenge to the rail industry is to tell us what you are doing about the problems and involve passengers in the solutions.”

Railfuture is seeking input from across the rail industry and from rail passengers. Both are invited to log their experiences on www.railfuture.org.uk/disruption or contact the project by e-mailling disruption@railfuture.org.uk. A draft report will be produced in February 2015 and a final report in July 2015.

Notes:

Disruption to rail journeys remains the biggest concern of passengers with 50% of passengers saying that the biggest impact on overall dissatisfaction is how the train company dealt with delays – Passenger Focus : National Rail Passenger Survey Spring 2014

Railfuture is the UK’s leading independent organisation campaigning for better rail services for both passengers and freight.

Railfuture’s website can be found at:

www.railfuture.org.uk/Welcome+to+Railfuture

Moving Southport’s poor eastern and northern transport connections up the agenda – The motion to Council

Below is the text of the motion that I mentioned a couple of days ago which I have submitted to Sefton Council for debate. I hope it will gain all-party support, at the Council meeting to be held on the 23rd January.

“This Council

(1) welcomes new investment in road and rail but is concerned that the transport plans of local transport authorities, including that of Lancashire County Council, should give appropriate priority to the transport needs of of the Borough of Sefton and people travelling into the Borough from places outside Merseyside

(2) recognises the economic importance to the Borough of transport links to Lancashire and Greater Manchester

(3) commits itself to work in conjunction with West Lancashire Borough Council and Lancashire County Council to engage further with neighbouring transport authorities to ensure these links are preserved and enhanced

(4) requires a report to be prepared for and submitted to Cabinet at an early date indicating how these aims may best be achieved.”

Cllr. Tony Robertson

More passengers die on the roads in six hours than have died on Britain’s railways in the last six years

I was taken with this media release which I recently picked up on and it took me back to one episode of the first series of that BBC programme called Great Railway Journeys of the World. The episode was called Coast to Coast and it followed Ludovic Kennedy as he crossed America by train in around 1980. It was probably the best programme from the original series and at one point Kennedy is talking to an aged railway man from America who gave a similar statistic to the one in this media release from Railfuture. Or the other way of saying it is ‘don’t get on the safe old train get in a car and kill yourself’!

Rail campaigners are praising an astonishing run of safety on Britain’s railways. Saturday the 23rd February will mark the sixth year in a row without a single passenger fatality in the UK.

“We congratulate the railway industry and its staff for continuing to run a safe railway for passengers” said Bruce Williamson of the group Railfuture. “There have only been two fatal accidents in the last ten years, the Grayrigg derailment in 2007 in which one person died, and at Ufton Nervet in 2004. That one was caused by a suicidal motorist who parked his car on a level crossing waiting for a train to kill him – hardly the railway’s fault. In other words, in ten years the rail industry has been responsible for just one passenger fatality – an astonishing and unprecedented run of safety. Of course, one death is one too many, and there is no room for complacency, but it does illustrate how spectacularly safe rail travel is”.

“This is in contrast to the roads where more passengers die on the roads in six hours than have died on Britain’s railways in the last six years.”

“There has not been a single fatal accident caused by a train driver since Ladbroke Grove in 1999 – because of better training, tougher recruitment standards for drivers and a new track safety system installed nationwide after Ladbroke Grove.”

Notes to editors

Railfuture is the UK’s leading independent organisation campaigning for better rail services for both passengers and freight.

Railfuture’s website can be found at: http://www.railfuture.org.uk