Non Grand National
race goers urged to plan their journeys ahead of rail strike
PEOPLE planning on getting out and
about, on Saturday, 8 April 2017, are being urged to consider their travel options
ahead of a rail strike affecting both Merseyrail and Northern services.
Timetables for both operators have had to be greatly revised and reduced as
guard members of the RMT union walk out in a 2nd 1 day strike in relation
to on train staffing.
Merseyrail has had to assume that train drivers will refuse to cross RMT's
picket lines, as happened on the 1st strike day, on 13 March 2017.
The limited Merseyrail services that will be running are focussed on getting
people to and from the Grand National, so people who aren't going to Aintree are
being warned that the network is likely to be very busy and people on the City
Line are advised to check before they travel if they usually use Northern
The City Region's extensive bus network is being recommended as an alternative
People who are intending to travel further afield will still be able to get
mainline services as other operators will be unaffected by the Industrial
Said Frank Rogers, Chief Executive of Merseytravel:- "The RMT have
effectively put us in a no win situation. In taking the difficult decision to
prioritise services to get people to and from 1 of the biggest events on
Merseyside and within the City Region; 1 that is enjoyed locally and globally, means that unfortunately
we have no choice but to disadvantage other people getting to work over the
weekend or wanting to enjoy their weekends. We are trying to limit the
disruption as far as possible, such as working with operators to strengthen bus
services and by ensuring people have the help and guidance they need in
considering their other options.
We are 100% convinced that these new trains will be safer than the ones they
replace in every way. They will transform people's travel, not least that they
will be a game changer for people who currently have to be assisted on and off."
Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, Merseyrail's managing director, added:- "The
timetable we are running is designed to get as many people as possible safely to
the City Region's most popular event of the year. We realise that this means
reduced or no train services on other parts of the network, and we apologise for
non race goers who may not be able to take the train that day or whose journeys
will be less straightforward.
Whether the RMT likes it or not, new trains will be brought in over the next few
years. They will be safer and more secure, and our network overall will remain
one of the most generously staffed in the country. As well as continuing to
staff City Region stations throughout the times trains are running, roles will
be created to work on board the new trains, concentrating on customers' safety,
security and comfort."
» Key advice if you're travelling other than to get to
the Grand National:-
► There will be limited Merseyrail services focussed on getting people to and
from Aintree for the Grand National. These services are likely to be very busy.
► There will be mainline rail services in and out of the
City Region, but
services run by Northern will be reduced and run to a revised timetable.
► Affected rail services will start later and finish earlier. Don't be caught out.
Leave longer for your journey.
► You may want to consider other public
transport options. There is an extensive bus network across the City Region
► Stick to public transport wherever possible to
reduce congestion on key routes such as the Mersey Tunnels and roads in and out
of the City Centre and around Aintree.
Full details of Merseyrail services and rail replacement buses are on the
website and on posters at all stations.
► For the latest on Northern services visit:-
For more travel options and advice visit by calling
Merseytravel if you need more help in planning your journeys on:- 0151 236 7676.
Summary of Merseyrail services for non race goers:-
► Trains running between Liverpool
City Centre and Hooton mid-morning till around
20.00, with no services for a few hours in the afternoon.
► Trains running between Liverpool
and West Kirby mid morning till around 20.00, with no services for a few hours
in the afternoon.
► No trains to New Brighton.
► No trains between Hooton and Chester and
Hooton and Ellesmere Port.
► No trains between Liverpool
City Centre and
► Very few train trains between Liverpool
City Centre and Southport.
► No trains to Kirkby.
► No trains between Aintree and Ormskirk.
RMT hits back over Merseyrail claims
THE UK railway union, the RMT have hit back at Merseyrail's continued media campaign aimed
at smearing the vital safety critical role of the guard.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said:- "This dispute is not and never has been
about who opens and closes the doors. The dispute is about whether we have a
second safety trained person on ALL of Merseyrail's fleet or if we operate the
new trains with just a driver locked up front in their cab. Merseyrail admitted
at the face to face talks held with RMT, on 20 March 2017, that their proposed
method of operation had not been validated, and was not in use anywhere on the
UK rail network. Indeed it is precisely because of recommendation number 1 of
the RAIB report into the fatal accident, at James Street, Liverpool, that RMT
are questioning the safety of the proposed operation, and are putting forward a
RMT regional organiser John Tilley added:- "The RMT has had no contact at all
from Merseyrail since we announced the date of 8 April 2017, for our action,
nearly 3 weeks ago, other than to receive a lengthy letter drafted by
Merseyrail's expensive lawyers complaining about a dog being on 1 of our picket
lines. The only issues that Merseyrail wish us to talk about are redundancy
payments and retraining. The only other letter we have received is from
Merseytravel Chief Executive Frank Rodgers, in which he threatens to remove the
so called jobs guarantee, that they claim is a key part of their offer. Since
announcing this strike date RMT has been working behind the scenes with many
other parties in the City to put together a road map out of this dispute. We
call upon Merseyrail to agree to talks about how they can contribute to that
process, they hold the purse strings that can unlock this deadlock."
Will the real native
hedgehog please stand up?
HOW well do you know Britain's
favourite mammal? Getting the key facts right could help save the species
The British public and wildlife conservationists alike hold hedgehogs and their
conservation very close to their hearts. However, there are a number of myths
that have developed over the years about our spiny friends that could be
hampering efforts to increase their numbers.
Now, wildlife charities People's Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and the
British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS), who have been working together on
hedgehog conservation for the last decade, want to share the top five common
myths surrounding them. Busting these myths will ensure everyone involved in
trying to halt their declining numbers has the correct facts at their
Voted Britain's favourite mammal in 2016, West-European hedgehogs (Erinaceus
europaeus), are not short of admirers, and are seen on novelty trinkets in homes
across the country. Yet despite being the nation's favourite, these creatures
are often the victim of mistaken identity, given the wrong food or even thought
of as fleabags!
Myth 1:- A case of mistaken identity! Can you spot which
is Britain's native hedgehog?
The West European hedgehog is Britain's native hedgehog, seen on the right in
the image above. They have darker, more rounded features.
African pygmy hedgehogs (left) have paler facial hair, pink brown snouts,
lighter spines and pointier features. Pygmy hedgehogs cannot survive in the wild
in the UK, so are sometimes kept as exotic pets seen across social media and
YouTube; often incorrectly labelled as native British hedgehogs.
Myth 2:- There were 30 million hedgehogs in Britain in
This idea of 30 million hedgehogs was suggested by naturalist Maurice Burton
during a visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in the 1950's and this figure
seems to have stuck. In truth, we have no idea how many hedgehogs there were in
the 1950's, though we do know they were more abundant.
Evidence suggests that our hedgehogs have been declining in England since at
least the 1990's when formal monitoring first started, though it's thought
populations had been declining for much longer. It is now estimated that
populations have declined by up to a third in urban areas, and by at least half
in rural areas since 2000.
Myth 3:- British hedgehogs are threatened with
Though population trends do show an ongoing decline, it is unlikely that this
will eventually result in hedgehog extinction. Should the decline continue, it
is most likely that hedgehogs will survive in patches of land; studies by BHPS,
PTES and others suggest a minimum of 32 individuals in 90 hectares of the best
habitat available (i.e. a connected suburban landscape) and is the minimum
requirement for an isolated population to survive.
The main concern is that hedgehogs are becoming a rare sight in our gardens,
parks and other spaces; across both rural and urban landscapes. If this
continues, it could result in huge parts of Britain not being home to any
hedgehog populations at all, which would be tragic. This is more realistic as a
consequence, rather than extinction.
However, with the public's help BHPS, PTES and others can help to ensure this
doesn't happen, so that future generations can enjoy this iconic British
Myth 4:- Time for a better diet: no more bread and milk
for our hedgehogs!
It is fantastic that the public want to help provide food for hedgehogs,
especially when natural food may be scarce, but hedgehogs, like humans, can only
eat and drink certain things.
Did you know that hedgehogs are lactose intolerant, and that milk can cause
diarrhoea? If you'd like to leave a drink out for passing hedgehogs, please make
sure it's a small bowl of water.
Feeding bread to hedgehogs, like ducks at your local pond, is not recommended. A
hedgehog's diet should be mostly protein based, so either provide specific
hedgehog food or meat based pet food, with the option of small amounts of
crushed unsalted nuts and / or mealworms; your hedgehogs will thank you for it.
Myth 5:- Hedgehogs transmit fleas to pets...
Hedgehogs are sometimes unfairly branded as fleabags - the hedgehog flea (Archaeopsylla
erinacei) is host-specific, meaning it will only survive on hedgehogs. So, if a
hedgehog flea were to be transferred to one of your pets, it would soon drop or
The State of Britain's Hedgehogs 2015 report, published by BHPS and PTES, showed
a continuing decline in hedgehog numbers, in both rural and urban landscapes.
The loss of hedgerows and intensive farming in rural areas, along with tidy,
fenced in gardens in urban and suburban locations, are just some of the threats
contributing to the demise of Britain's native hedgehog.
Despite this, there are several ways the public and conservationists alike can
help to combat falling hedgehog numbers. BHPS and PTES set up Hedgehog Street in
2011, a citizen science campaign which offers advice and encourages people to
connect their gardens and other green spaces to improve hedgehogs' access to
food, shelter and mates. Since its launch, Hedgehog Street has inspired over
43,000 volunteers (Hedgehog Champions) to create hedgehog friendly
neighbourhoods, by linking up their gardens. Other small changes people can make
to help hedgehogs include;
► Pledge to make a small hole; no bigger than a CD case; in your garden fence,
wall and other barriers, to allow hedgehogs access to different gardens
► Log your 'hog sightings - dead or alive'
- on The BIG Hedgehog Map
► Provide suitable food for hedgehogs, such as hedgehog food or meaty pet food,
and water to drink
With the correct facts at your fingertips, join the ongoing campaign to save our
hedgehogs by becoming a Hedgehog Champion online today at:-