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 17th May) 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 second month of its franchise, Northern has become almost mute, possibly because many passengers comprehensively deconstructed their initial response, not least the suggestion that a change at Salford Crescent would be reasonable. Their position remains ‘it’s being looked at’ with no timeframe on when we will hear more.

Recently completed platform surveys and counts by the Friends of Westhoughton station established that half of their travellers use the line for stations on the Piccadilly/ Airport route. We have now identified that 650 daily commuters will be seriously and adversely affected by the loss of service.

Furthermore, while huge numbers need the service for work and education, the surveys at Westhoughton were extended through the morning and their findings reinforced passenger feedback, this is not just an issue for commuters.

In order to obtain the complete view, in early June we will conduct a morning commuter survey at Wigan Wallgate and report figures covering all stations. To get a full picture, we do need to hear from those of you using the service at other times from all stations along the line.

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.


In June we will be seeking your participation again in Making Our Voice Heard with a fresh emphasis ahead of a proposed meeting with our local MPs, Rail North, Northern and our local transport authorities (anticipated late June / July).

However, should you wish to raise an objection now while we 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.

Northern, our transport authorities and Rail North must be made to understand it is wrong and we are not going to let this go. Please contact us if you have any comments or queries.

Burscough Bridge Ticket Office

We now understand that the ticket office will be kept open until the end of June to give time to secure its long term operation that will see it transferred from being a Lancashire County Council operation, however, a solution has not been found yet.


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

An evening with Nigel Harris and Christian Wolmar  Date tba

(postponed from 11th March)

Hosted by Southport MP this will be an opportunity to discuss any rail subject with these two industry journalists, with an emphasis on local issues and connectivity. This will be an invitation only event so please register your interest through the contact us page.


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