Campaign for retention of direct services to the south side of Manchester City Centre

The current proposal is to route all services on the Southport - Manchester lines to Victoria from December 2017.

Following the survey on 9th June at Wigan Wallgate, the campaign groups fighting the withdrawal of a direct Piccadilly service have spoken with and counted passengers at all stations from Southport to Westhoughton.

The bottom line: daily over 800 peak period commuters rely on the threatened service as do hundreds more throughout the day!

A meeting between; the MPs for Southport, West Lancs, Wigan and Makerfield; Rail North; the 3 local transport authorities; Northern; and others is planned for July 1st.

We are seeking a positive outcome in which both services to Victoria and Piccadilly are retained and even improved. However, the indications are that we will not get any commitment to amending the 2017 service plans before the meeting if at all.

What can you do? Support the cause and your MP by e mailing (even if you did so before) the people that will represent the rail company and authorities at the meeting on 1st July, and explain your situation;.

You can use or amend the following text if it helps and applies to you: 

I am one of over 800 hundred that  each day use the current Southport – Manchester Piccadilly service to reach my place of work. My contribution to the Northern Powerhouse is through working in the xx sector and I travel from [station] to [station].

From consultation with rail users like me, I trust you understand how important and essential it is to retain this direct train service and when you meet my elected representative shortly you will be in a position to assure them that the announced rail plans will be amended in order that it is.  If not please let me know.

Send to:

Rail North Director, David Hoggarth,

Amanda White Head of Rail TfGM,

Wayne Menzies Head of Rail Merseytravel,

Rob Warnes Northern Planning Director,

Carolyn Watson Northern External Relations,

Roger Cobbe Policy Director,


Please send a copy to your MP and MP contact details:-

Lisa Nandy MP for Wigan:

Yvonne Fovargue MP for Makerfield:

Rosie Cooper MP for West Lancs:

John Pugh MP for Southport:


Who are we? The Ormskirk, Preston and Southport Travellers' Association - OPSTA - is the rail user group for West Lancashire's railways using the traditional boundaries described by Preston, Wigan and Liverpool.

We are a non political group that campaigns for the retention, improvement and development of the railway links between Liverpool and Preston via Ormskirk, and from Southport and Kirkby to Manchester via Wigan. We are members of the West of Lancashire Community Rail Partnership and the One West Lancs Transport group.

If you find that we share common aims please join us or you can follow us here (last updated on  10th June) and on twitter @opsta15.

Southport - Manchester Services

Loss of Piccadilly/ Airport Services under the New Franchise - 

Arriva Rail North took over the Northern franchise from 1st April 2016 with a plan to divert our Piccadilly and airport services to Manchester Victoria from December 2017.

In reply to passenger objections and a body of evidence, Northern (the operational management) stated they will look at timetables in detail and will consult but made no commitment to modify the plan to retain the direct service to Piccadilly.  The Chair of Rail North has committed to hold the operator to its promise to conduct a review of plans he placed this in a context of benefits that will result from the Ordsall Chord/ Northern Hub, electrification and new franchise.

Now in the third month of its franchise, Northern has said very little, possibly because many passengers comprehensively deconstructed their initial response, not least the suggestion that a change at Salford Crescent would be reasonable. and safe Their position remains ‘it’s being looked at’ with no timeframe on when we will hear more.

Through platform surveys and counts at all stations the campaign has found that over 830 daily commuters will be seriously and adversely affected by the loss of service. Furthermore, while huge numbers need the service for work and education, further research supports passenger feedback, that this is not just an issue for commuters in the morning and evening peaks but throughout the day.

In total contrast with the rail company and Rail North, any and all local authorities and business groups, that the Go To Piccadilly (#gotopicc) campaign group speaks to, immediately recognise the seriousness of the issue and act on it.


Ahead of the meeting proposed for 1st July with our local MPs, Rail North, Northern and our local transport authorities, we are again seeking rail user participation again in Making Our Voice Heard with a fresh emphasis  on the economic impact.

To show your MP and the campaign has your support please raise your concerns and objection now while we continue to press for meaningful dialogue and resolution. Use this link to see how you can make your voice heard - it is very quick and easy. If you use Twitter please comment using #gotopicc and Campaign for Better Transport's #railwoes. Or if Facebook is your social medium, have a look at southportrailtransportforum.

 lease contact us if you have any comments or queries.

Burscough Bridge Ticket Office

We now understand that the ticket office will close on June 25th and although there is behind-the-scenes work to find a viable way of running it in the future, a solution has not been found yet.

OPSTA will assist and work constructively with all parties to get a staffed ticket office re-opened, and if necessary, as looks increasingly likely, we will campaign on this issue too.

With Northern promising to increase the number of staffed stations under the new franchise could they provide some financial support here?


Ormskirk-Preston Services

It was a pleasant surprise to read that Arriva Rail North intends to run 17 services daily on Ormskirk – Preston from December 17, up from the present 13 and above the 14 specified in the tender. It looks like someone may have taken notice of the evidence based case we presented and if they are serious about getting it right, they will be clear from our surveys this means running 2 units in the peak periods.

Fare Collection

Rail users can assist by emailing their observations and experiences to


Timetables and service changes

Those were the days

Ormskirk station, 1908


New Rolling Stock

Merseytravel/ Merseyrail - On 24 February David Powell Merseytravel Rolling Stock programme Director gave members a very comprehensive presentation on the procurement of new trains for the Merseytravel network and the potential for extended services.

The audience was very interested to hear about the consideration of 'ipemu' and power storage technology and provisions within the tender that allow for the replacement fleet to be doubled in size if required -  his presentation can be viewed using this link.

Northern Trains - Arriva Rail North and Spain manufacturer CAF have put together a 2 minute CGI presentation on the new rolling stock now on order. Presumably the appearance will be much the same whether they be diesel or electric. There will be 31 x 3-car and and 12 x 4-car EMUs and 25 x 2-car and 30 x 3-car DMUs, though none is likely to appear at Ormskirk or Southport!.

View CGI video


Upcoming events


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