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Issue Date:- 1 September 2008

Lord Street brought to a standstill...

THE traffic was diverted from Lord Street on Saturday, 30 August 2008, as Merseyside Police negotiators talked down a man who threatened to jump from Southport Lord Street building.  The man was spotted around 4.3Opm on top of Barclays Bank.  The man then threatened to jump. 

Police reacted quickly by cordoning off the area after fears about the structural safety of the Victorian pillar the man was clinging to and to allow full access for the police negotiators.

It is still unclear what his motives for scaling the buildings are.  He was later talked down at 11.30pm.  A police spokesman said the man was taken to hospital to be assessed.  His actions meant not only traffic problems, but the early closing of many businesses for the day, in the 100m sealed off area of Lord Street. 

What was more shocking than the chap threatening to jump was that many people, even with children flocked over to watch!

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MORE frequent trains, more tracks, improved stations and more freight services are all proposed as Network Rail publishes its long-term strategy aimed at improving rail services in Lancashire and Cumbria.

Covering routes such as Leeds to Blackpool North, Settle to Carlisle and the Cumbrian coast line, the strategy outlines how Network Rail will work to deliver a rail network able to manage the predicted growth in rail usage over the next ten years.  The publication, which will now be submitted to the Office of Rail Regulation, follows a three month extensive consultation period with key stakeholders and additional analysis.

The document - the Lancashire and Cumbria Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS) - illustrates the forecast growth in population, employment and housing, and subsequently estimates rail usage over the next 10 to 15 years setting out the industry’s preferred strategy that could be adopted to help meet this demand.

The strategy looks at increasing the number of rail services, with better connections, better stations and other improvements enabling the railway to drive economic growth throughout the area.

Peter Strachan, route director for Network Rail said:- "After a successful consultation process, I am convinced that we now have a robust and purposeful strategy for delivering a rail network in Lancashire and Cumbria that can handle the expected increase in use over the next decade or so.

This is an exciting time for the rail industry.  The changes ahead will improve the reliability, capacity and connectivity of routes across the north west. 

We appreciate all the contributions to both the development process of the strategy and to the consultation."

The strategy to address peak capacity in the period 2009 to 2014 includes:-

* Line speed improvements between Burnley and Hebden Bridge to shorten journey times on the Leeds – Blackpool route.  The current speed limit of 45mph could be raised to at least 55mph and as much as 70mph where suitable

* Re-doubling of the tracks at London Road junction in Carlisle to improve performance of freight and passenger services on the Settle – Carlisle line

* More regular trains into Sellafield

* More regular train services between Preston and Ormskirk, and an improved service between Preston and Southport

* Sunday services from Carlisle to Whitehaven to increase from three to four a day

* Improving the Settle – Carlisle timetable to give a regular two-hourly service, with targeted additional services where passenger requirements and space in the timetable coincide

* The proposal to lengthen trains and platforms on the Manchester – Clitheroe line is already included in Network Rail’s
Strategic Business Plan but it is recommended that the peak time services between Manchester and Blackburn are extended to Clitheroe

* Minor alterations on Platforms 1 and 2 at Preston to improve passenger flow and ability to get connections.  This would include relocating the buffet and staff accommodation from their present position to elsewhere on the platform, and improving passenger facilities

For the period 2014 to 2019 Network Rail is proposing the re-signalling scheme already planned for the Whitehaven – Maryport line should include a re-modelling of the track layout in Maryport and the provision of an additional platform.  The creation of a new Maryport signalling centre and the performance improvements that will bring may mean the possibility of running additional Sunday services.

The strategy will now be presented to the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR).  The ORR has 60 days to consider this after which it will become an established strategy.

A copy of the Lancashire and Cumbria RUS can be found on the Network Rail website at

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