The Bickerstaffe Record

Spring 07 Bickerstaffe Record

New stations, new opportunities

03.11.07 | Comment?

Quiet developments
As regards public transport, the attention of the local media has been on the possibility of the re-opening of the Burscough curves and a new rail connection between Ormskirk and Southport.

While this would certainly be welcomed, of greater immediate relevance to many in Simonswood, Bickerstaffe and South Lathom are the plans for possible new stations at either side of the Bickerstaffe Ward boundary.

These plans are set out in the Merseyside Rail Strategy, part of the Merseyside Local Transport Plan for the 2006-2011 period, which was submitted to government by the Merseyside Public Transport Authority (Merseytravel) in late 2006. The whole document can be seen here.

What’s being planned
In essence, what is under consideration is the establishment of two new stations near our area – one a park and ride facility at Headbolt Lane on the Simonswood edge of Kirkby, and another one somewhere due South of Skelmersdale centre, with access to the Pimbo industrial estates. In addition, there is the possibility of a North Maghull station on the Ormskirk Line between the existing Maghull and Town Green.

The Headbolt Lane and Skelmersdale South stations would be implemented in the context of the electrification of the line between Kirkby and Wigan, and the introduction of through trains to and from Liverpool (currently the line breaks at Kirkby). This would reduce travel time to Liverpool considerably, to around 20 minutes from Headbolt Lane.

It must be stressed that plans are at an early stage, though in respect of the Headbolt Lane station the Head of Passenger services at Merseytravel has confirmed in writing that “initial work to confirm the feasibility of extending services from Kirkby to a new station at Headbolt lane or through to Wigan��? has already been completed. We will of course keep you up to date with developments.

The implications
There are of course other implications of closer, faster public transport options. First, it may make the Bickerstaffe area more attractive to commuters and drive up house prices – great if you already own, not so great if you don’t but want to buy and stay in the area.

Second, there is obviously a risk that roads to and from the new stations will become busier, especially at peak hours.

In terms of the route through Bickerstaffe and Simonswood to Headbolt Lane, this will reinforce the need to get lower speed limits in place, especially on the Barrow Nook triangle, and may strengthen our arguments for this.

Routes to and from a new Skelmersdale South are less clear at the moment, but we will need to be aware of the possible impact upon Ferny Knoll road, and be ready to argue the case for measures there.

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