An end to rail franchising – but what next?

Rail franchising has been an expensive failure and I think most involved with the rail industry will acknowledge that due not least to the fragmentation it’s caused to what needs to be a national infrastructure.

Northern Rail Franchise Class 319 electric unit at Liverpool Lime Street Station

In effect rail has been re-nationalised as the 1980’s high profile privatisation project has hit the buffers, indeed it’s been bumping into those buffers for a long time now. Of course Railtrack was nationalised into Network Rail quite a while ago.

The Railway Gazette has an interesting article on its website – see link below:-

Being a railway enthusiast means that I’m probably not a reliable witness but I’ll have my say, biased though it may be, anyway. That British Railways was in many ways a bit of a mess is a given but the route the Conservatives took to address its shortcomings was to say the least drastic, although I also appreciate that they did it to big up their policy direction of the day and there will have been little thought for what they were setting in train (sorry) and how things would actually look further down the track (sorry again). Such is politics, short term voter approval is all that is required and beggar the consequences as the other lot will be in power when the train derails!

What we managed to lose during the 1960’s, 70’s & 80’s was anything approaching an integrated transport system (remember that the infamous Bus Deregulation Act plays into this too) and now we are paying the price. Yes of course there have been some positives with rail travel increasing year on year until Covid 19 came along. However, we now need to reinvent the wheel and build an integrated transport system which rail (both train and tram) will need to be at the heart of.

That many European countries and beyond have successfully done this means it can be done and should be. We’ve ended up in a kind of halfway house between many counties who have progressed integrated transport very well and the likes of the US and Canada who have all but tried to kill off public transportation completely.

A Virgin Trains Frabchise Pendolino train at Liverpool Lime Street Station.

The big question now is where will our Conservative government drive transport policy now. Certainly they are big on roads and cars and are planning huge infrastructure investment in new highways despite roads being the very opposite of what is required to tackle climate change. The old ten bob note they recently held up to pay for the reversal of Beeching cuts in our railways was of course all political froth as that tiny budget will pay for nothing much at all.

Of course Conservative voters don’t use buses and trains much, if at all, although all those right wing former Labour voters who backed Johnson at the last GE do.

Can’t say I’m optimistic about the future of public transport under the present occupier of 10 Dither Street, London.

My thanks to Bob Robinson for the lead to this posting

Aintree – Lost station buildings – So sad


Click on the photo to enlarge it

Some time ago I posted about how grand Aintree Station (previously know as Aintree Sefton Arms) on the Merseyrail Network had once been as opposed to its clinical uninspiring modern face now. I have since purchased a further old photo that shows off the former station canopy very well. I don’t know the date of the photo though which is displayed above – click on it to enlarge.

My previous posting is accessible via the link below:-

The photo above is amongst my Flickr shots at:-

Network Rail – The excursion special to goodness knows where

An Intercity HST from BR days around 1990 just coming off Brunel's famous bridge over the Tamar.

An Intercity HST from BR days (around 1990) just coming off Brunel’s famous Royal Albert Bridge Bridge over the Tamar. Click on the shot to enlarge it.

Back to Railtrack! Oh no, we have been shunted into that siding before. Network Rail clearly has its faults and its problems and its failures but what it needs is good management not another trip down a rundown branch line in a Pacer. Government needs to find the best way to run our railways not simply rerun the old tired argument of public V private ownership.

The photo is also on my Flickr page at:-

Ditton Junction – In Maghull?

Seen from the tow path of the Leeds Liverpool Canal through Maghull at the end of a garden:-

Ditton Junction in Maghull r


Click on the photo and/or map to enlarge them

Ditton Junction Station was on the main Liverpool to Runcorn line just to the west of Widnes. The scan of the Ordnance Survey map of Liverpool from 1958 shows the station location. It was the first to be closed by Railtrack following the privatisation of British Rail in 1994. Ditton Railway Station is one of two stations where Paul Simon reputedly composed the song “Homeward Bound”, the other being Widnes railway station.

This Wikipedia page is worth a read:-

The photo is also on my Flickr page at:-

Japanese Knotweed – Foxhouse Lane, Maghull

This troublesome plant has been causing problems in Foxhouse Lane, Maghull for some time; at least 15 to 18 years to my knowledge. The plant is on Network Rail land which forms the embankment of the Liverpool – Ormskirk railway line just north of Maghull Station.


Click on the photo to enlarge it

My old chum and former Maghull Town Councillor Charles Walker (see photo above) was tackling it over 15 years ago and he got what was then Railtrack to take action to try to eradicate it. I recall Charles, now a young 93, reminding Railtrack for some years to continue the treatment because I am told it can take 5 or more years to eradicate it. Sadly, the work did not see its demise and it is now getting out of control again and growing under the pavement in Foxhouse Lane causing Sefton Council to try to address the problem as well.

The redoubtable Maghull In Bloom Volunteers are also on the case.

The link below to a wikipedia page gives more information about this invasive plant.