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

The online petition started by Wigan MP Lisa Nandy in order to demonstrate how many members of the travelling public will be adversely affected is now close to 1400 signatures and remains open so please sign and help the campaign keep the pressure on

Update 5th October

Our MPs met with the new Rail Minister, North West MP Paul Maynard on 6th September and were encouraged by his understanding of the issues and stated desire for a workable solution to be found. He commented that the Department for Transport (DfT) may need to revise its Service Specification (TSR) and utilisation targets for electrified lines (eg Bolton corridor) in order to facilitate this.

From our work and discussions beforehand with Northern (the train operator, Arriva Rail North) and Rail North (transport authority) a solution appears possible.

Despite this, however, Northern outwardly remains non-committal stating they will review options with us this month after they have the results and findings from the passenger survey conducted on 28th September. The research company has indicated they got a good response (from you) so it should mean that the data we have collated and presented is verified and supported from an independent source.

Issue and background

Every week day 850 peak period commuters rely on the threatened service as do hundreds more throughout the day and week!

At this point the rail service and timetable planning will result in the Southport line losing its direct service to Piccadilly and the airport from December 2017.

And we welcome your comment and critical feedback on the campaign through by e mail to or social media:

facebook: southportrailtransportforum

Twitter @opsta15

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 5th October) and on twitter @opsta15.

Burscough Bridge Ticket Office

The ticket office closed 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

Although it is widely reported that the proposed and very welcome increase to 17 services a day between Preston and Ormskirk will deliver an hourly, clockface timetable, we await the detail. Northern has said timetables are being worked on and indicated this schedule will be achieved through sharing train unit allocations with other services thus enabling 2 trains to be running on the line simultaneously and passing on “the Preston approaches”. Suggestion that our line will become part of a timetabled through service was denied.

Our surveys clearly show the importance of getting the times aligned to traveller need especially in the peak periods which means a more frequent if irregular service that could only be achieved by a return to units passing at Rufford.

OPSTA has submitted a schedule for consideration.

Fare Collection

Rail users can assist by emailing their observations and experiences to


Timetables and service changes

Those were the days

Ormskirk station, 1908


Open Meeting with Northern 14th November

Our next general meeting will take place in Burscough in the afternoon of 14th November (venue and times tbc) and our guests will be Sharon Keith, Northern's recently appointed Regional Director West along with Craig Harrop Northern relationship manager and co-ordinator of the working group for the Piccadilly services.

It is an open meeting and non members will be welcome but note there will be an agreed and fixed agenda so if you wish to raise a matter then please contact us now.

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