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30 year radical report puts West Lancashire rail in focus

Proposals include electrification of Ormskirk line, Burscough Curves and a new station for Skelmersdale

Merseytravel Chair Cllr Liam Robinson. HS2 story

Merseytravel has unveiled an ambitious 30-year plan for its rail services which include a station for Skelmersdale and a new railway line between Ormskirk and Liverpool.

The Liverpool City Region Long Term Rail Strategy report outlines a package of 12 priorities which include:

  • A new station for Skelmersdale on the existing Kirkby to Wigan line, which would be the first in 50 years.
  • Direct connection from South Liverpool to Preston via Liverpool city centre and Ormskirk.
  • New ‘Mersey Branch’ rail line between Liverpool and Ormskirk.
  • Interchange station at Burscough Bridge allowing connections between Ormskirk / Liverpool services and Southport / Wigan services.
  • The reinstatement of the Burscough Curves, a short stretch of line that would reconnect Southport, Preston and Ormskirk.
  • A new railway station for Maghull North.
  • Improving links with new developments in West Lancs and South Preston.

West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper said: “I very much welcome the commitment from Merseytravel to include both a railway station in Skelmersdale and improved services between Ormskirk and Preston.

“It is incredible in the 21st century that the most populated town in West Lancashire doesn’t have a rail service.”

The draft blueprint will be put to the Merseytravel Committee today (September 4) before going to the Combined Authority for approval on September 19.

Tony Robertson, Liberal Democrat councillor for Park Ward in Sefton, warned that some plans could not come into play, even though they are vital for the economy of West Lancashire and its Sefton neighbours, Maghull and Southport.

He said: “West Lancashire hasn’t had the political clout because it sits between Greater Manchester and Liverpool.

“It is vital that the railway lines for Ormskirk, Preston, Southport, Wigan and Manchester are improved.

“I strongly believe that the economic development and growth of West Lancashire and Sefton are tied to good railway links and service.

“I have been looking back at Merseytravel’s previous proposals and many of them have gone nowhere at all – I think that the danger is here that they are maybe raising expectations.”

Cllr Liam Robinson, chair of Merseytravel, added: “This is real ‘big picture’ thinking by the Liverpool City Region.

“The rail strategy is about co-ordination and building on our successes, most notably the Merseyrail network.’’

He said: “It is about ensuring that the rail connections we have within our city region link seamlessly with those beyond, to local catchment areas such as North Wales and Skelmersdale.”

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