Liverpool to Chester by train – It demonstrates why passengers think our railways are dysfunctional

Having heard about the new(ish) train connecting Liverpool to Chester (via Liverpool South Parkway, Runcorn, Frodsham and Helsby) I decided I needed to try it out.

My TfW Liverpool – Chester train (via Frodsham)

Did you know Liverpool to Chester (and back) is now served by 5 daytime trains each hour – 4 Merseyrail and 1 Transport for Wales. You may not even know that Transport for Wales runs a train between the two destinations because if you use the internet to call up Liverpool – Chester trains invariably it will default to the Merseyrail Service. Certainly if I had not known about the TfW hourly service I would never have found it via the usual rail enquiry sites. Both trains call at or terminate at Liverpool Lime Street – Merseyrail via the underground platforms and TfW via the mainline platforms.

But after quite some faffing about on the internet I found the TfW timetable and rocked up to buy a ticket at Lime Street Station but even then the really helpful lady I bought the ticket from seemed to expect me to want to go via Merseyrail – This new TfW service is being kept very quiet indeed. I had to say I want to go via Frodsham before she realised I did know what I was asking for although I did wonder if she was also wondering where my carer was.

I got on the 11.36 train and it was almost empty but based on what I’ve already said I can’t say I was surprised. But what a nice ride it was, the TfW 3 carriage Class 175 DMU’s are comfortable and I had a table all to myself. I spread out my flask, sandwiches, crisps etc. and made a mess, which I subsequently cleaned up I might add. My ticket was checked by a very polite guard. Just behind me an older couple had found an item that had been left on the inbound service to Liverpool from Chester. What impressed me was the care and attention the guard took and the assurance that he would hand the item in a Chester’s lost people, animals, baggage office.

The service takes a few minutes more than Merseytravel as it travels a longer route but frankly you would not notice the difference. And now my gripe…..

Just before the train set off we were given a friendly lecture (oddly not with a Welsh accent nor indeed was it repeated in the Welsh language), via an announcement, on what would happen to any passenger found to have a Liverpool – Chester ticket on them meant for the Merseyrail service. Basically, being forced to listen to Max Boyce jokes would be their punishment. I nearly got off at that very moment even though I had the right ticket in case they started to play the jokes via the tannoy anyway. I got the distinct impression that TfW may have to deal with this sort of problem regularly so they were hoping that any miscreants holding a Liverpool – Chester ticket would get off their Liverpool – Chester train before they had to call British Transport Police out. But how would the miscreants have known about the all but secret TfW train in the first place?

Now call me grumpy but what the hell does it matter which train you get to Chester from Liverpool Lime Street if you’ve bought a ticket – same start point, same finish point and almost the same travelling time. The only difference is the particular pieces of track your train clicks and clacks along. This nonsensical situation sums up our dysfunctional railway system to me. Integrated transport my foot.

My Merseyrail train from Chester to Liverpool

Interestingly, on my return journey via Merseyrail there was no announcement about what would happen to passengers who got on their train with a TfW Chester – Liverpool ticket. Maybe they’d rather not say as their punishment could be chucking off such unwelcome passengers at Bache (how do you pronounce that?) Station to collect trolleys in the adjacent Morrisons car park? But then again Merseyrail don’t seem check tickets on their trains so you’d not come unstuck until you encountered a ticket barrier at a central Liverpool Station. Oh no, you’d be sent to Mersey Ferries to listen to Gerry Marsden singing Ferry Cross The Mersey on continuous loop (readers of Bill Bryson’s book Notes from a Small Island will get this one) until you promised not to fall foul of railway rules again.

A world where a train ticket is only valid via one route to the same destination is one where the powers that be just can’t be bothered to put the passenger first. There got that off my chest.

I actually enjoyed my trip and will gladly travel to Chester via the TfW train again, although I’d be even more glad if my Merseytravel old beggars travel card would be accepted on it, but that’s another story.

Runcorn/Widnes – The Ethelfleda Railway Bridge pedestrian footpath

Here’s a fascinating bit of Liverpool City Region railway history which I have only just caught up with – The story and write-up is from ‘Old Liverpool Railways‘ and can be accessed on YouTube via the link below:-

www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMtl3HCSHw0

Click on the photo (which is also amongst my Flickr shots at:- www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/) to enlarge it.

New Runcorn – Widnes Bridge Fraud Scam

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-40837594

The BBC has the story on its web site – see link above

There does not seem to be much in the world of the Internet that is not open to fraud these days but locals who want to register to use the new Mersey Gateway Bridge need to be careful of this scam.

Mersey Gateway Bridge – Progress but no mention of Northern Poorhouse!

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/mersey-gateway-bridge-progress-charted-11742718

The Liverpool Echo has the story on its web site – see link above

This is an amazing engineering project and it’s happening in ‘the north’, so show come no one name dropped the Northern Powerhouse in this article? I thought every media outlet had to name drop it or face the wrath of George Osborne. Oh hang on he’s bitten the dust hasn’t he.

BTW is it just me or is the Echo web site struggling? It seems to freeze up all the time – time for an upgrade?

Osborne/Anderson – is this some form of political love in?

From the Liverpool Echo web site – Mr Osborne also declared his “door was open” to Joe Anderson over proposals for a Merseyside Mayor, providing it is the wish of voters in the area.

Cllr_Joe_Anderson,_Leader,_Liverpool_City_Council.jpeg

Well here’s a odd story. A Tory Chancellor seemingly trying to do Liverpool’s Labour Mayor a favour in his ambitions to run all our lives across Merseyside/The Liverpool City Region.

But is it odd? Well not if you look back at the history of the Tories backing Labour on Merseytravel/Merseyside Passenger Transport Authority. Or what about the short lived Tory/Labour joint administration on Sefton Council in 2008.

These old and supposedly very opposed political enemies are closer than most voters would realise or care for. No one other then the Labour Party will thank George Osborne for giving Joe the power to run Southport, St Helens, Runcorn, Formby, Birkenhead, Maghull, Prescot or anywhere else outside of his present Liverpool boundaries.

No Mr. Osborne we don’t wish for this scenario thank you very much!