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

Update 5 March

At our meeting with Paul Maynard, the Rail Minister, on 1st March. Arriva Trains North (ATN) presented the plans they have developed in response to our campaign to save the direct Southport link to Oxford Road and Piccadilly.

From May 2018 

 ·        ATN’s basic offer is for a 6 day per week hourly service that starts at Stalybridge and runs via Victoria and Bolton to Wigan North Western before returning via Bolton, Oxford Road and Piccadilly to terminate at Alderley Edge. It then follows that route in reverse. This would  preserve the Piccadilly corridor link for stations currently served East of Wigan.

 ·        There would be no full day service from stations West of Wigan to Manchester Oxford Road and Piccadilly.

 ·        Instead there will be, on weekdays only, two morning peak trains going into Piccadilly and two coming back early evening.  The position on Sunday services is unclear at the moment.

 ·        Because of limited platform capacity at Manchester Airport  as a result of the increased length and number of Trans Pennine Express (TPE) trains that have been mandated by the DfT, our trains will no longer run though from Piccadilly to the Airport

From December 2019

 ·        Provided that planned electrification projects finish on time then there will be a Stalybridge, Victoria, Bolton, Wigan, Southport, Wigan, Bolton, Piccadilly, Alderley Edge direct service from December 2019.

Your campaign group does not think an eighteen month hiatus in between May 2018 and December 2019 will be acceptable to our rail users. We know the full through service from Southport to Oxford Road and Piccadilly could be technically possible and therefore want to see it from May 2018. Such proposals will, however, involve extra cost for Arriva Trains North. 

The Rail Minister has referred the problem back to Rail North and our council leaders to resolve. The May 2018 plans will go out to public consultation next month and we will make sure you know how to have your say. If you haven't already written to your council leader to express your feelings please, please do so.

Should you require any further explanation on any of the above points please contact us.

Please contact us with any queries, suggestions or other feedback especially if you use off peak services let us know your reason and frequency of travel.

You can comment and give critical feedback on the campaign by e mail to or social media:

facebook: southportrailtransportforum     Twitter @opsta15

Burscough Bridge Ticket Office

There is behind-the-scenes work to find a viable way of running a ticket office in the future, with OPSTA supporting the Friends of Burscough Stations in seeking a solution that would form an integral part of an initiative by Burscough Parish Council to see the building put to good use for the community.

The Parish Council held a meeting on 20th Feb to consider the viability of the business plan to take over the premises. We made an expression of interest in re-opening a ticket office. There is a lot to be done by all parties before this is agreed formally.

While Northern has stated clearly it has no interest in staffing the station and will in course install Ticket Vending Machines, it would be supportive of a third party retail agency and would help the re-equipping of a booking office should a suitable third party come forward.

Ormskirk-Preston Services

Northern has confirmed it intends to increase services to 17 a day between Preston and Ormskirk thus delivering an hourly,  timetable, but this will not be introduced before May 18 (back from Dec 17) due to the impact of widespread industry delays in electrification schemes and cascade of rolling stock.

Northern has indicated this schedule will be achieved through 'interworking' train units with other services thus enabling 2 trains to be running on the line simultaneously and passing on “the Preston approaches”, but not as a timetabled through service.

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 and raised the issue of students travelling from East Lancashire having to endure poor connections at Preston.

Midge Hall – OPSTA has submitted a paper outlining the case for a station to the Developer of the nearby brownfield Leyland test track site. Planning permission is sought for 1200 homes plus business premises. The Developer has indicated it will use it as part of their revised Development Masterplan that they are obliged to submit to the local council. OPSTA will also circulate this document to other stakeholders and potential influencers. This may also be covered by the Leyland Guardian.

Fare Collection

Rail users can assist by emailing their observations and experiences to


Those were the days
Ormskirk 1908


5th March Updates (centre)
- Southport Manchester Campaign

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 follow us here and on twitter @opsta15.

Train Timetables (please click the name below)


Southport & Kirkby-Manchester



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