Northern Rail’s meltdown and its impact on Merseyside and beyond

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/business/mersey-commuters-demand-more-government-14813870

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

Yes we all know how badly the Northern Rail meltdown has affected negatively the lives of train users across the north of England but it’s worth saying yet again that the troubles actually predate the now infamous May timetable changes. Users of the Ormskirk – Preston route were seeing far too many cancellations before May and Southport – Manchester travellers were suffering often overcrowded and unreliable trains. May’s timetable changes just made it all much worse.

Southport – Manchester trains now virtually all go into at Manchester Victoria Station whereas before they were split between Victoria and Piccadilly. The loss of trains into Piccadilly is a huge issue to those using this line who work in the business area around Piccadilly.

Labour MP Lisa Nandy made a big fuss in House of Commons the other day as her frustration boiled over at the utter mess of train services on her local line – The Southport to Manchester Line. Lib Dem MP Tim Farron has launched a petition to try to get Northern sacked as the train operating company on his Lakes Line from Oxenholme to Windermere, indeed working with local residents he has brought in a heritage railway company to run the trains that Northern can’t/won’t run.

Northern Fail – Could they less guilty than we thought?

www.theguardian.com/business/2018/jun/18/northern-trains-operator-asked-for-timetable-changes-to-be-delayed?CMP=share_btn_link

The Guardian has the report on its web site – see link above

So according to this report Northern say they tried to get the latest timetable changes put back but were refused by Network Rail and others in rail industry. If true this shines a clear light on what was going on prior to the meltdown when the timetable changes were brought in in May. Makes you wonder about the decision making process in the rail industry if they can seemingly forge ahead with something they collectively have been told won’t work!

With thanks to Bob for the lead to this posting.

Southport – John Pugh MP standing down

My good friend John Pugh MP has decided after many years serving the good folk of Southport that the June General Election is the time for him to step down.

I know John has been an excellent MP not least because opposition party members have told me such. And I don’t mean in tribute after hearing he is standing down but before that whilst he has been Southport’s MP.

Dr. John Pugh Lib Dem MP for Southport

John is independently minded but then again that is the test of a good Liberal. Show me a politician who is prepared to be whipped time and time again to vote for things they really can’t abide and I will likely show you someone who is not a Liberal. Remember John stood out against Nick Clegg’s dropping the the Lib Dem pledge to oppose an increase in Tuition Fees, which were originally brought in by Labour when they were in Government. John was right.

On a subject close to my heart, John has been up front in his support for the revitalistion of rail services into and out of Southport to the east and north of the Town. That is an ongoing campaign that has a long way to run and his successor will have to show the same determination to support and promote that cause because the economic future of Southport is very much bound up in such campaigning.

I can’t say that I always agree with John but hey I’m a Liberal too and hope I have a reasonably independent mind too. What I do know is that John is a deep thinker who analyses every matter before him and you can bet that if you challenge him over an issue he can demonstrate a clear thought process that took him to the view that he holds.

I think Southport has had a really exceptional MP in John and they will be big boots indeed for his successor to fill.

Happy retirement from Westminster John but not from the local political scene.

Southport – Manchester trains – An update on the campaign by Southport Rail Transport Forum and OPSTA.

Southport Rail Transport Forum logo

OPSTA logo

www.facebook.com/southportrailtransportforum/posts/794494200726543?notif_t=notify_me_page&notif_id=1491391584755932

SRTF has an update on the long-running campaign to ensure that Southport and West Lancashire passengers are not disadvantaged by changes to trains into and out of Manchester. See the link above for the full update.

Parbold Level Crossing on the Southport – Manchester Line

Southport – It’s rail link to Manchester is vital if our tourist town is to fulfill its potential

I have commented on this blog site many times about the importance of the Southport – Wigan – Manchester railway line but a recent reading of Nigel Dyckhoff’s book ‘Portrait of the Cheshire Lines Committee’ really does press home why this is the case.

Southport Station at night with a 507/508 EMU awaiting to depart for Liverpool.

Southport Station at night with a 507/508 EMU awaiting to depart for Liverpool.

This quote from the 5th chapter of Nigel’s book (published in 1999) says it all:-

‘Modelled on the exclusive resorts of the South of France and laid out as a garden city, Southport became known in publicity material as the ‘Montpellier of the North’. A fashionable watering place and residential area for the businessmen of Manchester and Liverpool’

Of course in 2016 we would say ‘businessperson’ but what Southport really, really needs (and soon) is the return to the fast train services into Manchester which were lost in the 1960’s. To achieve that the line needs to be electrified before we enter the next Ice Age rather than on the vague goodness knows when Network Rail timetable that presently exists.

Departure board at Southport Station.

Departure board at Southport Station.

It stands to reason, especially with our choked roads/motorways and the lack of an east/west Ormskirk road bypass, that if folks are to live in Southport and have quick and comfortable access into Manchester (like they have into Liverpool) that upgrading of the railway line has to be a top priority for the Town. It will also need a decent park and ride station on the eastern edge of Southport with a significantly large car park.

A Southport bound Class 156 DMU at Burscough Bridge Station on the Southport - Wigan - Manchester Line.

A Southport bound Class 156 DMU at Burscough Bridge Station on the Southport – Wigan – Manchester Line.

This is surely an important way of improving the economy and indeed the retail offer of Southport. It will mean that wealth generated in Manchester can more easily be spent in Southport by people who depend on their income by working in Manchester but who love to live by the sea in Southport.

It’s really not rocket science just a look back to the way Southport used to be so much better rail connected to Manchester.

Southport Rail Transport Forum logo

Southport Rail Transport Forum logo

The present campaign to save the Southport rail services into Manchester Piccadilly is of course an important part of developing better rail access to Manchester from Sefton Borough’s tourism Town. The work of OPSTA, Southport Rail Transport Forum and John Pugh MP is vital but where are Merseytravel and Sefton Council in all this?

OPSTA logo

OPSTA logo

Merseytravel had to be dragged into including the Southport – Manchester Line in its Long Term Rail Strategy not so long ago but credit to them for accepting the arguments put forward at the time. But if Southport is to flourish as Merseyside’s tourism capital, which is surely in all our interests, then we will need to see some real, determined and positive campaigning by our Sub-Regional Transport Body and Borough Council, potentially over a number of years, to make serious change happen.

Without an electrified railway offering fast services into Manchester Piccadilly and Victoria Stations Southport will not be able to regain what it once had and so desperately needs. Just read that quote above once more; the railway answer to Southport’s eastern transport link problems is all to obvious!

Southport – Manchester Trains – Please support this petition

you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/defend-rail-services-in-to-manchester-piccadilly?source=facebook-share-button&time=1472504523

Departure board at Southport Station.

Departure board at Southport Station.

The petition available via the link above is well worth supporting as we try to stop Arriva Trains Northern/Network Rail and other public bodies making all Southport – Wigan – Manchester trains go into Manchester Victoria Station.

Southport Rail Transport Forum logo

Southport Rail Transport Forum logo

Presently around half go into Manchester Piccadilly Station which is far more convenient for commuters working in Manchester.

OPSTA logo

OPSTA logo

Southport Rail Transport Forum, OPSTA (Ormskirk, Preston and Southport Travellers Association) and MP’s representing constituencies along the this line, such as John Pugh (Southport), Rosie Cooper (West Lancashire) etc. are all backing the campaign. The petition started by Lisa Nandy MP (Wigan) is a part of that campaign and I urge folk to sign it.