Item 51 question "Merseytravel":
Question - Merseytravel
“The city districts and city suburbs of the City of Liverpool are underprovided for by Merseyrail compared to other Merseyside areas. For example, Birkenhead is as close or closer to Liverpool city centre as/than Toxteth, Wavertree, Old Swan, West Derby, Knotty Ash, Tuebrook, Stoneycroft, Norris Green, Anfield and Everton etc.. Birkenhead has many Merseyrail stations whereas the aforementioned Liverpool city districts have none.
Will Liverpool City Council undertake to work towards re-balancing this discrepancy by endeavouring to facilitate the following:
- In the short to medium term
- re-activation of the existing Liverpool Loop Line from Hunts Cross on the Northern Line to Rice Lane on the Kirkby Line;
- consideration of the opening of stations on the Liverpool Loop Line at Alder Hey Hospital, Liverpool Football Club and Everton Football Club as priorities, as economic enablers of the project; and
- creation of a junction on the Liverpool Loop Line at Broadgreen to allow additional access, using existing active railways, to Liverpool city centre through Wavertree Technology Park and central inner Liverpool suburbs. This would also create two city loops, increasing flexibility of services; and
- Production of a long term strategy to provide many more Liverpool city districts and citizens with the enormous benefits of quality commuter/Metro rail services which are part of and integrated into the existing extensive Merseyrail network.”
Response (from Merseytravel)
It is Merseytravel rather than the City Council who controls the provision of rail services across Merseyside. Merseytravel have provided the following response to the Question:
Merseytravel fully supports the development of the local transport network and works, in conjunction with partners and stakeholders, to deliver the appropriate transport solution to the problems encountered. This has led to the development of a high quality transport network which includes both bus and rail transport.
The legacy of the rail network provides many challenges and it is difficult to make changes to the network Merseytravel has inherited. However Merseytravel refutes the idea that Wirral has a better rail network and while we accept that there are parts of Liverpool without direct rail access this is also the case with large parts of the Wirral, St Helens and Knowsley.
Merseytravel is committed to developing the public transport network across the whole of Merseyside, providing the appropriate transport intervention where required. The Local Transport Plan Bus and Rail Strategies set out Merseytravel aspirations to develop the public transport network.
The Rail Strategy sets out a number of improvements for the Liverpool area including opening the Bootle branch for passenger rail services and a series of new railway stations. While Merseytravel would like to take forward these proposals the current funding position makes this extremely difficult. The potential to develop the outer loop line has been lost as part of the line has been built on and thus is not identified within the Rail Strategy.
On a positive note the lines between Liverpool and Manchester and Liverpool and Wigan have been identified for electrification in the near future by the Government.
Merseytravel were pulling the wool over the Council's eyes. They state, "The potential to develop the outer loop line has been lost as part of the line has been built on". The Outer Loop line trackbed only has the Knotty Ash Sainbury's store rear access road on a small part of the trackbed. This is no show stopper. The line or road can even be realigned at that point or the road run over the track for short length. Sainbury's would love a rapid-transit station in their car park and I am sure would fully cooperate and pay for most of it, if not all. A quick Google Earth brings up the store.
Most of the Outer Loop Line is built - the most expensive parts. The Western and southern sections of the Outer Loop Line are built and in use called the Northern Line. The Northern section is either:
- The North Mersey Branch line, from Aintree to Bootle, which is used by maintenance trains.
- The eastern section can be branched into the Kirkby branch of the Northern Line with ease to return back to Liverpool city centre.
The eastern disused section from Hunts Cross to Aintree is the part of the Outer Loop in question. Only a store access road hinders a small part of the trackbed.
It appears Merseytravel are still obsessed with saving face and getting the ill-conceived trams back on-line. The city has a rapid-transit rail network other cities drool over, the most used outside London, and it can be far, far larger without too much fuss or expense. Rapid-transit rail networks create economic growth and gives kudos. All major cities in the world have them. Liverpool has one and it is largely ignored by Merseytravel.
Here are a few web pages that will quickly fill you in: Merseyrail Extensions
For the the Outer Loop click in the contents. In the above link look at how the Outer Loop can flow into any airport rail station.
How Arsenal FC used rapid-transit to amazing success. The Outer Loop is ideal to get Liverpool FC and Everton FC on this line - common sense as it ensures success of the clubs and keeps nuisance to a minimum.
The Outer Loop is also here:
Click on, "North Liverpool Extension Line - Eastern Section of the Outer Loop" in the Contents:
The Outer Loop is safeguarded complete with long span steel bridges. At great expense the M62 under construction left an underpass for the Outer Loop Line.
Neal Scales of Merseytravel was prepared to partially pay using a Merseyside focused budget to get the Wrexham to Bidston Line electrified and onto Merseyrail - 55% of the line is in England. Merseyrail would also provide the electric rolling stock. Wrexham is in Wales! This diesel line runs 3 car trains from Bidston to Wrexham ONCE PER HOUR. It is low usage. The line is nearly as long as the Liverpool-Manchester Line. A nice to have of course, but such great expense fro little return that befits mainly the Welsh.
It is best money is spent on Liverpool and using what rail infrastructure we already have, tunnels and surface trackbed, to regenerate the inner-cities, rather than chasing castles in the air which will make little or no impact whatsoever. The current electrification project of the Liverpool to Manchester, Wigan, Huyton and St.Helens lines meshes very well to get the Outer Loop operational. Some major costs are eliminated with this electrification. This is being electrified right now, not "identified for electrification in the near future by the Government", as Merseytravel state. Work is under way.
Liverpool City Council is right. Birkenhead is better served by Merseyrail. More than Liverpool when comparing the populations of both. People in Birkenhead (and Wallasey) use Merseyrail as a metro jumping from district to district and right into Liverpool city centre's main points directly. People just outside Liverpool's city centre do not have that luxury.
Liverpool City Council were not impressed with Merseytravel's response.
There are no significant obstructions on the Liverpool Outer Loop Line between Hunts Cross station on the Northern Line and Rice Lane station on the Kirkby Line. A look at quick Google Maps confirms this. It is possible to walk or cycle the route but beware of broken glass and fly tipping.
Liverpool City Council has stated, in the minutes of the Regeneration and Transport Select Committee meeting of 31 March 2011, that it is willing to formally discuss re-activation of the Liverpool Outer Loop Line with interested parties. If Interested, contact Councillor Malcolm Kennedy, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Transport.