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


An independent company will survey morning peak time passengers on Monday 26th September. Although this may feel like a repetition it will be a good use of your time as it will verify the data we have presented and we urge you to complete the questionnaire.

Positive outcome from meeting with Rail Minister

The MPs whose constituencies are along our line met with the new Rail Minister, North West MP Paul Maynard on 6th September.

To support them and our cause Lisa Nandy Wigan MP set up an online petition in order to demonstrate how many members of the travelling public will be adversely affected over 1100 had signed before the meeting,

File Note from the meeting:

We were all very encouraged by the Minister's understanding of the issues and his keenness to see a workable solution, and your comments that - whilst certain aspects of the TSR and electrified line utilisation targets might have to be revised - such a solution appears possible.

The rail user groups (in particular Southport Rail Transport Forum, Ormskirk Preston and Southport Travellers' Association, and North West Manchester Station Friends' Alliance) have been very active in pushing for the direct link to be retained, and we have also worked with Rail North and Arriva Rail North on the issue.  We appreciate this is a complex problem but firmly believe that it is entirely realistic to expect a heavily used and economically vital service to be maintained.  We are therefore more than ready to play a constructive part in the process.

Exactly how things will play out over the next few weeks is not for us to say, but we shall certainly be talking with Rail North and Arriva again as soon as possible to discuss potential solutions.


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.

No breakthrough yet but see above, following meetings in August and September we are now in meaningful dialogue with the right people. We are getting a hearing and the evidence collated from counts and surveys plus the communication from passengers has made an impression.

Northern face many rail issues and constraints that make timetable planning challenging (don’t read as misplaced sympathy) but maintain “within this process opportunities for providing a through service from the Southport line to south Manchester were being sought”.

We can get a positive outcome with a political will, notably within the Department for Transport - all 5 MPs with constituencies along the line from Southport to Bolton West are raising this issue with rail ministers.

What next?  Northern /Rail North has asked us to work with them on a further passenger survey in late September/ early October to build on our previous work and establish by post code the precise location passengers are travelling to, eg place of work. There are many views that can be taken on this, but we have agreed because we are confident it will prove our case and if it helps build credibility then it will be a constructive step - we again ask for your support.

What can you do? While both Lancashire County Council and Liverpool City Region Combined Authority have stated their support for retaining the service, TfGM remains uncommitted. You may wish to help them “conduct their further research on end destinations” by sending your travel need with post code and name of your workplace to and please copy to

And we welcome your comment and critical feedback on the campaign through by e mail or the established social media: facebook: southportrailtransportforum Twitter @opsta15 or

contact us.


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  29th August) 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


AUGUST 28th SUNDAY TRAINS on Preston - Ormskirk

Northern ran a short day service for the Ormskirk Motorfest on August Bank Holiday Sunday which unfortunately was beset with a lot of operational problems.

Nevertheless it carried a lot of passengers and we managed to survey most people travelling which gives us a lot of useful information on travel requirements which we will now analyse.

Interestingly many used the service did not attend this event, but used the train to get to Preston or Liverpool, stations in between and further afield. By using this service you will help make our case for Sunday services on the line!

If you did use the service or had to abandon plans to do so please send us your feedback through the contact us page.



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


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