Merseyrail – That new train fleet in more detail

The new Stadler trains (ordered by Merseytravel the Transport Committee of Liverpool City Region) which will be coming to Merseyrail in early 2020 look to be innovative and potentially class leading.

Here’s some photos from a mock-up of a Stadler train carriage so you can see how very different the new trains will look from the present rather elderly (40 years old in fact) British Rail built 507 and 508 trains:-

And you can see the mock up yourself too. Here’s where and how:-

The mock-up will be on display at the following times:

· Pacific Road, Birkenhead, CH41 1LJ: 1-14 October, Mon-Sun 8.00 to 17.30, Tues 8.00-19.30

· Liverpool Lime Street, L1 1JD: 5-18 November, Mon-Sun 7.00 to 18.30

The new trains are going to be fitted with battery packs so that they will be able to travel beyond the present electrified 3rd rail network. This brings all kinds of possibilities in terms of expanding the reach of Merseyrail to places like Burscough, Preston, Skelmersdale etc. without the need for costly electrification. Such opportunities are clearly most welcome and OPSTA* will be looking to pursue them at every turn.

With thanks to Bob for the lead to this posting.

*OPSTA – Ormskirk, Preston and Southport Travellers Association

Skelmersdale – The ‘Skem Jazzer’ from the days of steam

The old Skelmersdale Station – now long gone in the name of 1960’s progress!

With much talk these days of Skelmersdale being once again connected to the railway network, bearing in mind that this ‘New Town’ was deliberately designed not to be rail connected, I have recently come across this short video on Youtube:-

www.youtube.com/watch?v=bIpDSDbxQgk

It’s from 1956 when Skem’ was railway connected by the line that ran from Ormskirk to Rainford Junction. The Ormskirk – Skem train back in the day was known as the ‘Skem Jazzer’.

The plan of Merseytravel and Lancashire County Council is for a new line to be brought into the Town from the present Kirkby – Wigan line, thereby extending the present Merseyrail line from Liverpool all the way into Skem. It presently terminates at Kirkby with a Northern diesel service onwards to Wigan.

The video is a lovely bit of nostalgia and worth a couple of minutes to watch.

Kirkby – Another end of the line for Merseyrail (at present)

The Merseyrail half of Kirkby Station looking towards Liverpool.

I have posted previously about the bizarre severing of the Liverpool – Preston railway line at Ormskirk which leaves a great 15 minute service from Ormskirk to Liverpool and a far from impressive irregular service from Ormskirk to Preston.

My posting about the Liverpool – Preston Line is available via this link:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2016/05/01/ormskirk-end-of-the-line-well-end-of-two-lines-actually/

But there’s another of these bizarre serverings on the Merseyrail network at Kirkby where the Liverpool – Wigan Line is in effect chopped in two. In some ways this is actually more bizarre than the severing at Ormskirk because there’s another Merseyside community which Merseyrail does not reach just up the line at Rainford, part of St Helens Borough. If a severing had to take place surely Rainford would have been the obvious place would it not? BTW I am not arguing for such split tracks, indeed they make no sense to me at all.

Kirkby (like Ormskirk) is a single line, single platform station where the two separate train services meet end on and like Ormskirk the service on to Wigan and beyond is far less frequent and the Merseyrail one into Liverpool.

Also like on the Ormskirk Line there is is always talk of the Merseyrail system being extended, in the case of the Kirkby Line onto Skelmersdale. To achieve this a brand new spur line needs to be built into the 1960’s ‘New Town’ of Skem as the planners of the day ripped up and built on the railway line that ran through the old town of Skem from Ormskirk to St Helens. It will also mean a new station as well so the bill will be huge if the project ever gets the go ahead.

Looking at this optimistically the proposals are reasonably sound as Merseyrail would then run directly into Skem with a separate diesel service from Skem to Wigan from the new station. If the project was in the south it would have have had money chucked at it at least a decade ago but with recent back-tracking by Government over rail electrification schemes across a huge swathe of Northern England, whilst Cross-Rail 2 in London starts to get the thumbs up from Ministers, optimism about rail investment in the North of any sort is in very short supply. So for the foreseeable future Merseyrail will continue to stop at Kirkby.

The photo is amongst my Flickr shots at:-

www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

Skelmersdale – Putting it back on the railway map?

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/skelmersdale-rail-link-moves-step-13639557

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

I have covered this project previously and whilst I know that some Lancashire folk are highly sceptical of the £300m+ new railway line and Skem station ever being funded this is clearly another, if small, milestone along the right track.

Here’s a shot of the old and now long gone former Skelmersdale Station:-

The old Skelmersdale Station – now long gone in the name of 1950’s/60’s progress!

And here’s a couple of shots taken at Rainford Junction Station (there is no junction now):-

And finally a shot at Kirkby Station (the subject of a future posting of mine) where the present line from Wigan meets head on with Merseyrail’s electric service to/from Liverpool:-

End of the line from Wigan, the Merseyrail service to Liverpool is accessed under the bridge.

NoteThe last trains to Skelmersdale ran on Sunday 4 November 1956 and the station closed to passengers on Monday 5 November 1956. Skelmersdale station remained open for goods services until 4 November 1963 when it was closed completely. Information from Disused Stations UK.

Click on the photos to enlarge them

The last photo is amongst my Flickr shots at:-

www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

M58 Motorway – Beware yobs are chucking bricks at vehicles off bridges!

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/yobs-throw-bricks-m58-bridge-12078970

The Liverpool Echo has this most worrying to stories – see link above.

There will be a serious accident or even a death if this yob behavior continues. Keep your eyes peeled if you use this local motorway.

Skelmersdale rail connection – the picture starts to develop

The old Skelmersdale Station - now long gone in the name of progress!

The old Skelmersdale Station – now long gone in the name of progress!

www.southportvisiter.co.uk/news/southport-west-lancs/new-skelmersdale-rail-station-step-11572987

The Southport Visiter newspaper has the story – see link above

I have commented on this developing project many times before but it really does seem to have legs and probably stands a reasonable chance of getting off the ground despite the huge cost. I hope it does come off.

In many ways though whilst it illustrates how large railway projects can be taken forward it is sadly the case that smaller projects to improve the rail network are actually much harder to pursue. The Burscough Curves come to mind!