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Burscough Curve: could it be reopened? If so, how should this be achieved and what services should run along it?

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frodshamfella

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There has been recent news on re-opening one of the curves which will allow trains from Southport to reach Ormskirk direct.

Formal application submitted to reopen Burscough Curves rail line​

New services would use existing railway stations and add to the separate case for a reopened station at Midge Hall in Leyland



0_JS198540749.jpg

Burscough curves railway track

Long-running plans to reinstate the Burscough Curves rail line took a major step forwards when a formal application was submitted to the Government.
Backed by four MPs and Lancashire County Council, rail campaign group Ormskirk, Preston and Southport Travellers’ Association (OPSTA) has lodged plans which would see a direct rail link between Southport and Preston for the first time in 50 years.The scheme would see the restoration of the historic curves, which were closed following the Beeching cuts in the 1960s relaying two miles of track to reinstate a two-way junction to allow the connections to reopen.

New services would use existing railway stations and add to the separate case for a reopened station at Midge Hall in Leyland, which closed to passengers in 1961.
Described as ‘high value, low cost’, those behind the plan say the project could be delivered within two years at a cost of up to £35million. A comprehensive document - ‘Restoring Your Railway: Ideas Fund Application for the Burscough Curves’ - outlines substantial economic and social reasons behind connecting communities across Lancashire and Merseyside, which would directly impact around 300,000 residents and thousands of local businesses.
OPSTA’s proposal would see direct rail connections between Southport, Preston and Ormskirk finally become reality, with two new routes created with an hourly service between Preston and Southport.
It would also create an extension of the existing Merseyrail Liverpool to Ormskirk service with a half hourly service on to Southport.

The project aims to reconnect North West towns and cities including Southport, Preston and Ormskirk which were controversially lost due to the infamous Beeching Cuts of the 1960s.
The proposals have strong cross-party support with backing from Southport Conservative MP Damien Moore, West Lancashire Labour MP Rosie Cooper, South Ribble Conservative MP Katherine Fletcher, Preston Labour Co-Operative MP Sir Mark Hendrick, Lancashire County Council Leader Councillor Geoff Driver CBE, Lancashire County Council Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Environment and Planning Cllr Michael Green, local business leaders and many others.


The constituencies of Southport, West Lancashire and South Ribble are located between the city regions of Preston, Liverpool and Greater Manchester but the campaigners argue that access and connectivity is a postcode lottery with limited public transport options and arterial roads restricting where people can get to in a reasonable time, especially those without a car.
Rail services and this scheme are central to regional economic development and growth in the post Covid-19 pandemic recovery plans as well as to being essential to achieving zero carbon.
On March 3, Southport and Leyland were awarded substantial Government funding to drive forward ambitious Town Deal schemes, but investment plans for both areas cite connectivity as their biggest constraint.
OPSTA spokesperson Alan Fantom said: “OPSTA was very pleased to write the application for funding from the Department for Transport for preparation of a business case for the Burscough Curves on behalf of the four sponsoring MPs and with the full backing of Lancashire County Council including their commitment to match DfT funding.
“OPSTA is known for its long-held aspiration to see the Burscough Curves reopened which for those who may not know means there would be a direct rail service to both Preston and Ormskirk and Aughton, Maghull, Aintree.
“In preparing this bid it became even clearer just how beneficial it will be, its importance to Southport and Leyland and their planned investment through their Town Deals, and how easily it should be to deliver.”
Lancashire County Council has pledged to match-fund any cash provided by the government to assess the business case for the reinstatement.
Southport MP Mr Moore previously worked with OPSTA on efforts to reinstate links between Southport and Manchester and has long spoken about the importance of improving transport links to and from the town.
He said: “Restoring the Burscough Curves has the capacity to open-up the northern rail network to many people in Southport and West Lancashire who are restricted by poor transportation links.
“By connecting Southport to Preston – via Ormskirk and Leyland – by a direct rail service, we can create greater opportunities for our local economies and encourage more direct investment, whilst enabling people living in our community’s more opportunities for leisure and commuting.
“In submitting our proposals to government under the Restoring Your Railway Fund, the return of the Burscough Curves has taken a big step closer to becoming a reality.
“I am grateful to those MPs who have lent their support to our proposals to reopen this vital service, and to Lancashire County Council and OPSTA who have produced the submission.”
Transport links in West Lancashire are similarly cited as needing major improvements, with many people isolated due to the poor infrastructure available. The proposals aim to not only give more options for those in the town, but also speed up journeys and boost tourism and job opportunities.

from Lancslive.
 
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Dr Hoo

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So if I've got this right, this is just a 'bid' for some money to develop the (long-rehearsed) concept a bit further?

Not sure that I would dignify it as a 'plan'.

Also not clear why the local travellers' association is in the lead rather than a public body such as the county/town council(s).
 

Hardcastle

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So if I've got this right, this is just a 'bid' for some money to develop the (long-rehearsed) concept a bit further?

Not sure that I would dignify it as a 'plan'.

Also not clear why the local travellers' association is in the lead rather than a public body such as the county/town council(s).
Exactly plus there appears to be no direct input from Merseyside authorities especially as Southport would benefit more than most.
 

Watershed

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The process for rail reopenings is tedious and complex, but Lancashire Live do themselves no favours by oversimplifying what has actually happened here. To be fair, I wouldn't expect much better from a Reach publication.

All that has happened here is that an application has been submitted to the DfT for funding to start investigating and developing a business case for the reopening of the curves. Even if everything went swimmingly, the scheme is years away from 'spades in the ground'.
 

daodao

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Would the proposals if implemented lead to the withdrawal of the existing direct service from Preston to Ormskirk?
 

zwk500

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Also not clear why the local travellers' association is in the lead rather than a public body such as the county/town council(s).
Presumably the local public bodies are somewhat more realistic about the chances of it being built.
Would the proposals if implemented lead to the withdrawal of the existing direct service from Preston to Ormskirk?
We're a very, very long way from thinking about that.
And today's date is ... ? :oops:
Tbf, a bid to Restoring Your Railway for funding was submitted in March. As far as I can see, they were not successful.
 

adrock1976

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What's it called? It's called Cumbernauld
Picking up on the following sentence:

"Southport MP Mr Moore previously worked with OPSTA on efforts to reinstate links between Southport and Manchester and has long spoken about the importance of improving transport links to and from the town".

I was always under the impression that Southport already has direct trains to Manchester since day one of the ex Manchester & Southport Railway (Lancs & Yorks) was built all those years ago?

Also, was there once a much shorter diagonal route between Southport and Preston at one time as well?
 

zwk500

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Picking up on the following sentence:

"Southport MP Mr Moore previously worked with OPSTA on efforts to reinstate links between Southport and Manchester and has long spoken about the importance of improving transport links to and from the town".

I was always under the impression that Southport already has direct trains to Manchester since day one of the ex Manchester & Southport Railway (Lancs & Yorks) was built all those years ago?

Also, was there once a much shorter diagonal route between Southport and Preston at one time as well?
No idea if it's always had them, but yes Southport has had direct Manchester trains. However they haven't always served both main Manchester stations.

There appears to have once been a shorter route to Preston but it's been heavily built on now so no chance of it being rebuilt.
 

chiltern trev

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The direct line between Southport and Preston was the West Lancashire Railway via Crossens, Banks, Hesketh Bank and Longton. The line formed one side of the Meols Cop triangle where the electric car depot was located (for class 502s and predecessors).

The line closed around Beeching time.

There used to be direct services between Southport and Todmorden which did a reversal at Preston.
 
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Djgr

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"It would also create an extension of the existing Merseyrail Liverpool to Ormskirk service with a half hourly service on to Southport"

With third rail electrification?
 

WatcherZero

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Theres been proposals for extending the 3rd rail from Ormskirk to Burscough and running a more frequent service for some years, they likely would be envisaging battery trains beyond that.

They also applied for the north curve to be reinstated though Im not sure if they realise the limitations, as far as I know that line cant operate services less than 40 minutes apart without resignalling so cant operate a clock face 2tph service to Southport and Ormskirk.
 
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chorleyjeff

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The direct line between Southport and Preston was the West Lancashire Railway via Crossens, Banks, Hesketh Bank and Longton. The line formed one side of the Meols Cop triangle where the electric car depot was located (for class 502s and predecessors).

The line closed around Beeching time.

There used to be direct services between Southport and Todmorden which did a reversal at Preston.

The Southport to Accrington ( on the way to Todmorden ) trains used to avoid Preston by turning right at the Whitehouse triangle South of Preston to reach the Liverpool -Blackburn line at Bamber Bridge rather than left into Preston.
 

muddythefish

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The Southport to Accrington ( on the way to Todmorden ) trains used to avoid Preston by turning right at the Whitehouse triangle South of Preston to reach the Liverpool -Blackburn line at Bamber Bridge rather than left into Preston.

I think you mean the Preston - Blackburn line at Bamber Bridge? Blackburn hasn't had a direct rail connection via that route since the closure of the curve you mentioned. I have a strong memory of travelling on a Blackburn - Preston dmu circa 1967-68 with a Brush Type 4 waiting to come off the curve with a very long box wagon freight, presumably from the Liverpool area.
 

frodshamfella

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"It would also create an extension of the existing Merseyrail Liverpool to Ormskirk service with a half hourly service on to Southport"

With third rail electrification?
The class 777s have battery power too.

Exactly plus there appears to be no direct input from Merseyside authorities especially as Southport would benefit more than most.
Southport is part of the Liverpool City Region.
 

mwmbwls

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The direct line between Southport and Preston was the West Lancashire Railway via Crossens, Banks, Hesketh Bank and Longton.

The line closed around Breeching time.

There used to be direct services between Southport and Todmorden which did a reversal at Preston.
Thie West Lancashire Route route via Crossens has been extensively built over in several places: Crossens,Banks,Tarleton,Penwortham etc.
The chords at Burscough are each less than a kilometre long so the remediation there would be a small engineering exercise as compared to others being proffered. However the embankments will have to be rebuilt. IIRC Chiltern encountered similar problems redoubling the stretch north of Bicester. The costs of redoubling the existing line from Ormskirk to Midge Hall would be more substantial as when the line was singled a large part of it was slewed to reduce PW operating costs.

Finally a speculation that never happened.

At one point in 2013 Lancashire County Council had a rush of blood to the head and proposed a third south to west connection linking Ormskirk with Wigan.
 

lyndhurst25

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Haven't such studies been done umpteen times before over the decades? How is this one any different? Seems like they’re going round in circles and achieving very little.
 

mwmbwls

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Haven't such studies been done umpteen times before over the decades? How is this one any different? Seems like they’re going round in circles and achieving very little.
Local populations have grown. The built up areas of both Ormskirk and Burscough and now separated by a narrow green strip - reserved for a bypass that won't be built. Car commuting capacity into Preston along the new Penwortham by-pass is now filling up. There is considerable rail-heading from the area to Mersey Rail's Maghull and Maghull North. Road as congestion on the southbound A59 is becoming endemic. And the politics have changed. The new 777's can operate beyond the end of the third rail. Apart from that ..... not much different.
 

Skie

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The class 777s have battery power too.

They are only being supplied with depot batteries. One unit will have batteries for a trial of running away from the 3rd rail, but any large scale fitting will cost (but be useful elsewhere too).
 

Bletchleyite

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They are only being supplied with depot batteries. One unit will have batteries for a trial of running away from the 3rd rail, but any large scale fitting will cost (but be useful elsewhere too).

Reinstating the Curves will cost too, but would bring significant benefits.
 

Skie

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Reinstating the Curves will cost too, but would bring significant benefits.
It would. But it makes the case harder to support if someone hasn’t already paid for a bunch of battery equipped trains. These sort of interlinked budget considerations are always going to cause issues.

Hopefully this and other extensions can all be considered “in the round” for the battery trial and further funding if it’s a success, but government funding sometimes fails to consider the bigger picture.
 

lancastrian

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Local populations have grown. The built up areas of both Ormskirk and Burscough and now separated by a narrow green strip - reserved for a bypass that won't be built. Car commuting capacity into Preston along the new Penwortham by-pass is now filling up. There is considerable rail-heading from the area to Mersey Rail's Maghull and Maghull North. Road as congestion on the southbound A59 is becoming endemic. And the politics have changed. The new 777's can operate beyond the end of the third rail. Apart from that ..... not much different.
Plus the Penwortham Bypass is built along part of the former West Lancashire Railway from Middleforth Junction to Back Lane Level Crossing site. The underpass A59 between New Longton and Longton Stations is now a road and also I believe that the track bed through Longton is built upon as is the site of Hesketh Bank Station. There may be other obstacles especially in Southport itself.

I have been a supporter of the Burscough Curves reinstatement for many years and it is such a simple job compared to many of the other ideas for improving the railway. The Merseyrail services could be extended to Burscough Bridge Station, where good connections between Manchester to Southport Services can be made, plus with a new Preston to Southport service. It would make sense to redouble this line from Farrington Junction to Burscough Bridge, but with the predilection of the Treasury to descope thing to'save money' costing more in the long run we would probably end up with a restored service and a dynamic loop between Rufford and Croston.

I await more news and information with interest.
 

Gathursty

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If everyone in the Lancashire Plain votes Tory next election and the Tories win the General Election, this may happen.
 

Elecman

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Are there any Tory Marginal Seats in the area ? Answer =No therefore chances of this proposal proceeding =Zero
 

A0wen

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Are there any Tory Marginal Seats in the area ? Answer =No therefore chances of this proposal proceeding =Zero

Perhaps do some research before posting?

West Lancs (which Burscough is in) was held by Lab in 2019 with a majority of 8336, down from over 11,000 in 2017.

Southport is Tory held with a majority of just over 4k but only turned Tory in 2017 having been Lib Dem before that.

Not sure either coud be considered "safe" seats.
 

Bletchleyite

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Perhaps do some research before posting?

West Lancs (which Burscough is in) was held by Lab in 2019 with a majority of 8336, down from over 11,000 in 2017.

Southport is Tory held with a majority of just over 4k but only turned Tory in 2017 having been Lib Dem before that.

Not sure either coud be considered "safe" seats.

The increasing number of students there tend it towards a red/yellow constituency. The non-student residents are much more likely to be Tory (as a lot of it is quite posh), though the local Labour candidate is if I recall quite highly respected so probably gets some votes that would otherwise be Tory.
 

A0wen

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The increasing number of students there tend it towards a red/yellow constituency. The non-student residents are much more likely to be Tory (as a lot of it is quite posh), though the local Labour candidate is if I recall quite highly respected so probably gets some votes that would otherwise be Tory.
Students for where?

Ormskirk etc are too far out for the Uni students. The Uni students tend much more towards the centre, so Smithdown Road etc.
 

WAO

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Doesn't Ormskirk have its own University now, aka Edge Hill?

WAO
 
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