I disagree. Southport has more than double the population of Skelmersdale and reopening the Burscough curves would also benefit the residents of Meols Cop, New Lane, Bescar Lane, Burscough, Rufford, Croston and Midge Hall (if reopened), as all intermediate stations along the route would gain new and/or more frequent and reliable services to Southport, Ormskirk and Preston. Through services at Ormskirk would also benefit the residents of Aughton, Maghull and Aintree, as well as anyone wishing to travel there.
I'm not denying the benefits of re-opening the Burscough Curves, but the fact is the transport provision in Skelmersdale is absolutely woeful and needs addressing far more urgently than improving rail connectivity for a town which already has a good provision for rail. Your argument of "Southport a is bigger settlement, so the curves should be reopened before Skelmersdale gets a rail link" is in my view a poor and selfish justification.
There is absolutely no excuse for the Burscough curves to remain closed in this day and age, whether the service is Diesel or battery operated. Being forced to change stations at either Burscough or Wigan to reach Preston from Southport is totally unacceptable, as is travelling over an hour out of your way to Sandhills to reach Ormskirk. Bus journey times from Southport to Preston and Ormskirk are also totally unacceptable. Travelling via Wigan also puts you at the mercy of Greater Manchester evening peak fares and should therefore be avoided unless travelling to another destination in Greater Manchester.
You've conveniently omitted the fact there is a half-hourly express bus to Preston and two buses per hour to Ormskirk from your argument. Under the current timetables, Southport also has three trains per hour to Liverpool and two trains per hour into Manchester. Southport isn't as hard done by as you're trying to make out.
Skelmersdale, while it also urgently needs doing, actually inconveniences some passengers at intermediate stations, for example anyone travelling between Rainford and Upholland, which is quite a common journey on that line, will now have to change at Skelmersdale, more than doubling their journey time, but of course passengers from Rainford to Liverpool will no longer have to change at Kirkby (or Headbolt Lane) and will have a more frequent service, so there’s a trade off somewhere.
I think it's an inconvenience worth having if it gives Skelmersdale the rail link it desperately needs.
If the Kirkby line is “converted” to be 100% operated by 777s (including 8 car services), then I don’t expect the 3rd rail will ever be extended, as there will be no requirement for the remaining 507s to ever run past Kirkby and at least some 777s will be equipped with batteries.
The Kirkby route is going to be the first to transfer over to 777 operation.
I am not happy with the present situation at all and can’t wait for it to be rectified!
Genuine question - have you asked your MP to raise the subject of the Burscough Curves in Parliament?
I'm not against them being reopened, but I'd say Skelmersdale needs to be reconnected to the railway network before Merseytravel start looking at the more luxury options like the provision of direct rail services from Southport to Preston and Ormskirk. I'd also argue a further expanded Anfield stadium makes reopening the Canada Dock Branch to passengers more of a priority as well. The fact the line is already there and in regular use makes that scheme the biggest no-brainer for me.