Midge Hall Railway Station

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons am 7:00 pm ar 17 Ebrill 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Katherine Fletcher Katherine Fletcher Ceidwadwyr, South Ribble 7:00, 17 Ebrill 2024

I have spoken about how trains already stop at Midge Hall station, which has a signal box and a signalman, and how passengers can see a platform but cannot get on or off. I have spoken about the opportunity to further improve the line by creating direct trains between Liverpool and Preston by removing the buffers at Ormskirk that currently prevent trains from running straight through. I have spoken about battery-powered train technology, which would allow trains to run from Ormskirk to Preston without spending enormous amounts on transport infrastructure. But there is one final part of the picture.

Rosie Cooper, the former West Lancashire MP, is wonderfully articulate about the public transport gaps in central and west Lancashire, and one more thing that Beeching removed that would make Midge Hall and the Liverpool to Preston connection sing if they were reinstated is the Burscough curves. For context, the railway line from Preston to Ormskirk and Liverpool crosses the railway line from Southport to Wigan. Historically, two curves allowed trains to go directly from Southport to Preston or Liverpool.

I note the presence in the Chamber of my hon. Friend Damien Moore. If he wanted to visit me in Croston, he would have to get on a train from Southport to Wigan, walk across to a different station in Wigan, get a train to Leyland or Preston and then get a train down on a different line. In the 21st century that feels more like a game of logic than a piece of transport infrastructure. Although I accept that is a larger task than reinvigorating an old platform or removing the administrative buffers, it would be remiss of me not to talk about it in the context of this scheme and the case for Midge Hall.

I have spoken to the stakeholders, and they all suggest that the first important step is a feasibility study. A feasibility study on reopening Midge Hall station was conducted in 2019 and showed a potential issue with dwell time. However, thanks to this Conservative Government, we have replaced the hated Pacer trains, which took a long time to stop and a long time to start. There is a case for looking again at the opportunities for reopening the station without affecting the timetable.

I was with Network Rail executives at the Midge Hall site on Friday, and they had no objections in principle to the scheme. They could see the support for the railway, with two packed carriages heading down for ladies day at the grand national.

Will the Minister consider doing a feasibility study? Will he consider finding the funding to open Midge Hall, and to supporting us to do so? Will he help me to work with both Northern Rail and Merseyrail to get rid of the buffers at Ormskirk and to introduce a battery train service to reinvigorate the line and the broader region? And does he consider reopening the Burscough curves to be feasible? Although that is separate from the two issues I have raised today, it is an important part of improving rail infrastructure across west and central Lancashire.