Southport's travel links are essential to revitalising our depressed local economy, so on Tuesday I met the Chair of Merseytravel, Liam Robinson, to see what can be done to improve things.
It was a very positive meeting and I certainly took the opportunity to underline the importance of efficient rail links to this beautiful seaside town. I also stressed the need for an affordable service and quizzed Liam on what plans Merseytravel has for the service. It's encouraging stuff...
We discussed at length the huge investment that Merseytravel is making in new trains, which means we will no longer have the oldest trains in the country serving Southport!
As Merseytravel is part of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, these trains will actually be owned by the people of Merseyside and Liam revealed that the initiative is actually 30% cheaper than a private company owning these trains. Crucially, for service users, it will also lead to a 10% decrease in travel times.
Better trains, provided more cheaply, improving the service and cutting journey times. A case for public ownership if ever there was one, I'd say.
New trains will also be introduced by Northern Rail following strong lobbying by local Labour councils which will see some new services for the town, in particular to West Yorkshire. The advantage of this to Southport is obvious; we can attract visitors from further afield, boosting our economy.
If elected as your Labour MP I will also continue to work hard with Merseytravel to ensure that our rail services to the south of Manchester via Oxford Road and Piccadilly are protected.
All of these improvements can only be a good thing for the local area.
As your MP I would also be in a unique and strong position to work with Labour colleagues such as the new Liverpool City Region Mayor, Steve Rotheram, and Merseytravel to improve services for the people of Southport.
Labour-run Merseytravel has led the £2 "My Ticket" fare scheme for young people. This has seen an increase of 80% in young people using buses. With the new devolved powers to re-regulate buses in our area, there is a great opportunity to go even further and ensure fares are more affordable for all other groups too.
Elect me as your MP and I will work with other Labour elected officials to ensure we are continually striving to provide the best deal for Southport.
I am committed to retaining concessionary fares for older people across Merseyside, not only so that our elderly residents benefit through getting out and about in the local community but also so those in other parts of the region can travel to us, bringing further trade to the area.
Our rail links are vital and with Steve Rotherham as Liverpool City Region Mayor, and Andy Burnham in Manchester, good working relationships could also prove just as beneficial to strengthening Southport's economy and improving our town's future."