A Northern train at Southport Railway Station. Photo by Andrew Brown Media

Business leaders, rail campaigners and local residents in Southport are calling for direct rail services between Southport, Ormskirk and Preston to be restored. 

The growing campaign is happening as people across the Liverpool city region are being asked to contribute their thoughts to a public consultation on the area’s new Local Transport Plan (LTP).

The new plan, which will replace the existing plans that were published in 2011, will be the city region’s fourth LTP, and help shape future improvements to the city region transport network until 2040.

People can email their views to: transportpolicy@liverpoolcityregion-ca.gov.uk by Sunday 31 July 2022, while the new LTP can be viewed on the Combined Authority website.  

Southport BID is encouraging all BID businesses, and businesses and residents of the wider Liverpool City Region), to show support for the reinstatement of the Burscough Curves as part of the £710M-backed Local Transport Plan.

Southport BID CEO Rachel Fitzgerald said: “The positive impact of the reinstatement of the Burscough Curves cannot be underestimated.  

“These suggestions would provide a huge boost to Southport’s town centre economy, drastically increasing connectivity with other areas of the Liverpool City Region and Lancashire. 

“If you share these thoughts, please make sure your voice is heard.”

Local transport campaign group OPSTA (Ormskirk, Preston and Southport Travellers Association) is also encouraging as many local residents and businesses to send their views via the consultation. 

The organisation believes that reopening the Burscough Curves is a priority to ensure Southport’s prosperity, especially as it looks to attract further investment on the back of last year’s award of £38.5million Town Deal funding by the Government. 

That funding will see the creation of a new Marine Lake Events Centre, a new Water and Light Show on Marine Lake and a new Southport Enterprise Arcade. 

Town Deal funding has also supported the transformation of the new Southport Market food, drink and events venue and the Southport BID initiative to install 300,000 new lights along Lord Street in Southport. 

OPSTA believes that while Southport enjoys a good service on the direct Liverpool line, access to West Lancashire and the rest of Sefton by public transport is limited to non-existent.

The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority is believed to be interested in the reinstatement of a south junction at Burscough which would enable frequent and fast Merseyrail service between Southport and Ormskirk, Aughton, Maghull and Aintree but there is also a strong lobby south of the Mersey and from other areas demanding their attention.

OPSTA is asking Southport businesses and organisations to outline why it matters to them to have a good rail link to Ormskirk, the whole of Sefton and north Merseyside eg to bring employees, customers, visitors, students (with any known numbers) to the town.

Southport residents may wish to explain why access to these places matter to them in order to reach family, work, education (state where) or health facilities (such as Ormskirk Hospital). 

Business leaders, rail campaigners and local residents in Southport are calling for direct rail services between Southport, Ormskirk and Preston to be restored. The growing campaign is happening as people across the Liverpool city region are being asked to contribute their thoughts to a public consultation on the area’s new Local Transport Plan (LTP)

Business leaders, rail campaigners and local residents in Southport are calling for direct rail services between Southport, Ormskirk and Preston to be restored. The growing campaign is happening as people across the Liverpool city region are being asked to contribute their thoughts to a public consultation on the area’s new Local Transport Plan (LTP)

 

Tony Howard co-founder of Southport Cove, is also calling on people to take part in the consultation and add to the case for reopening the southern Burscough Curve. 

After the launch of the consultation, Tony posted into the Stand Up For Southport Facebook group, asking local people to make their voices heard. 

His call to arms was met by a huge response – the post was seen by over 13,400 people, with 98 comments and 37 shares. 

In his post, he wrote: “Please email your support about the Burscough Curves. 

“The Liverpool City Region (LCR) Combined Authority is urging residents and businesses to submit suggestions for the £710M-backed Local Transport Plan. The reinstatement of the Burscough Curves (circa £35M) could deliver huge benefits for LCR within Southport, eastern parts of Sefton, Walton, and beyond. If like me, you are in favour of this project, please email your support to: transportpolicy@liverpoolcityregion-ca.gov.uk

He added: “The curves would see the removal of railway buffers at Ormskirk, north of which is an infrequent diesel service to Preston. Merseyrail’s new trains could extend the network beyond Ormskirk to Preston and Southport. This proposal would increase direct rail connectivity for the whole Aintree / Maghull corridor with Southport, Lancashire and the West Coast Main Line beyond.

“The curves would also connect and consolidate Sefton with an almost Sefton circular train service. Travelling in all forms between North Sefton (Southport) and east Sefton (Maghull/Aintree) is awful at present.

“Liverpool City Region is considering other projects which take them over to Cheshire and North Wales. No one would suggest that LCR foots the entire bill for both curves but this could have huge benefits for residents of many parts of LCR which includes Southport. Lancashire CC has also shown interest.

“The curves in themselves would be a great example of Levelling Up. They would also consolidate existing Levelling Up allocations in the form of Town Deals for Southport (£37.5M), Leyland (£25M), and Preston (£19.9M). If you also include Town Deal allocations that are directly connected, and in close proximity to Preston train station, it amounts to £171.9M. Surely better rail access for the people of LCR and Lancashire to the opportunities those programmes may deliver is an intended outcome for Levelling Up.”

Business leaders, rail campaigners and local residents in Southport are calling for direct rail services between Southport, Ormskirk and Preston to be restored. The growing campaign is happening as people across the Liverpool city region are being asked to contribute their thoughts to a public consultation on the area’s new Local Transport Plan (LTP)

Business leaders, rail campaigners and local residents in Southport are calling for direct rail services between Southport, Ormskirk and Preston to be restored. The growing campaign is happening as people across the Liverpool city region are being asked to contribute their thoughts to a public consultation on the area’s new Local Transport Plan (LTP)

“The Southport Town Deal aims to increase annual visitor numbers by 1.2M. We therefore should look to improve all transport options for visitors and residents. The visitor economy of Southport is heavily dependent on car travel, plus many Southport residents are understandably reliant on personal vehicles. Vehicle ownership is anticipated to continue declining and this will have some impact on Southport’s visitor economy in the future. 

“Ignoring possible rail improvement will do nothing to solve the existing traffic congestion in the town and on its approaches. Either way it deters visitors, plus limits residents’ opportunities in life that arise from good connectivity.

“This benefits Aintree racecourse too. As a visitor attraction the venue has events throughout the year plus it has many full time staff. Its rail connectivity is almost entirely pointed at Liverpool’s city centre. The Curves and the removal of the buffers at Ormskirk would open it up to visitors and staff from the direction of Southport and the rest of the north too. It would unlock Aintree to the West Coast Main Line to and from those areas further north via Preston and not just from the south via Lime Street as is the case now.

“It also seems ridiculous that Sefton has a world famous showcase (Aintree) and yet has no decent connectivity back to the ‘hotel bedroom of Sefton’ (Southport).”

People in Southport and across the Liverpool city region are being asked to contribute their thoughts to a public consultation on the area’s new Local Transport Plan (LTP).

The new plan, which will replace the existing plans that were published in 2011, will be the city region’s fourth LTP, and help shape future improvements to the city region transport network until 2040

The Liverpool city region Local Transport Plan (LTP) consultation began on Monday 9 May 2022 and runs until Sunday 31 July. The draft first stage of the new LTP – a Vision and Goals document – can be viewed on the Combined Authority website

To take part in the consultation, email transportpolicy@liverpoolcityregion-ca.gov.uk with your comments. 

Do you have a story for Stand Up For Southport? Please message Andrew Brown via Facebook here or email me at: mediaandrewbrown@gmail.com

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