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News

Transport organisations to pull out the stops to get people to the races

General Interest

29 March 2017

Aintree Racecourse, Merseytravel, Merseyrail, and other transport operators have been working together to ensure that the RMT’s Grand National day strike does not spoil racegoers’ big day.

This 24-hour strike is planned only to take place on Grand National day and not on any other day of the Grand National festival.

We’ve been extremely encouraged that by working closely together with Merseyrail, Merseytravel and other transport providers we are doing everything possible to ensure racing fans will be transported effectively on Grand National Day with as little disruption as possible.

John Baker

Aintree Racecourse’s managing director

Merseyrail has confirmed that, despite the action of the RMT and the expected decision of train drivers not to cross RMT picket lines, it will be able to run the usual Grand National day-focused service before and after the races between Liverpool city-centre and Aintree. That means a 7½-minute service will operate at key times.

The action being taken by the RMT on the city region’s busiest day of the year will affect others not travelling to and from Aintree, and in the interests of public safety, Merseyrail has prioritised the route to Aintree from the city-centre.

As a result, there will be fewer trains or no trains at all on other parts of the network, although rail replacement buses will run on certain lines and services on key bus routes will be strengthened.

People travelling on mainline rail services can still travel into and out of Liverpool, but as Northern is also affected by strike action, people should check the timetable before they travel.

Should the RMT call the strike off any later than 5 April, as part of a political tactic to act as the saviour of the Grand National travelling public, there will not be enough time to get the normal service up and running and restore all of the original security, emergency service cover and logistical support which go with such a major event.

Frank Rogers, chief executive of Merseytravel, commented:

‘We have been working closely with Merseyrail, Aintree Racecourse and other transport operators to ensure that despite the strike, we can get people to and from Aintree and help keep the City Region moving. We are used to the transport challenges of big events with all partners coming together to go the extra mile. This is no different.’

‘It is a calculated and cynical move by the RMT to try to use the Grand National, the jewel in our City Region’s crown, as a gambling chip in RMT’s national battle. The RMT’s claim that this issue is about passenger safety falls apart when they are prepared to put the travelling public at risk by deliberately putting more pressure on a much reduced network.

Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, Merseyrail’s managing director, said:

‘Our focus is clear – to support the Liverpool city region and its economy on our biggest day of the year. Despite the RMT’s best efforts to scupper this iconic event and create misery for the tens of thousands of people who look forward to it all year, we’ve developed a timetable aimed at getting as many people between central Liverpool and Aintree, as we normally do on Grand National day. We are putting our passengers and the city region first. The RMT is not.

‘The people of the city region deserve the best, and that is why we are introducing new trains from 2020. They will be faster, able to carry more people and have the latest technology, including a sliding step to make boarding safer, as well as wi-fi. Rather than playing games with our region’s biggest day, the RMT should join us in meaningful negotiations on the future of the guards when the new trains arrive and talk with us about our offer to guarantee a job for all who want to stay.’

John Baker, Aintree Racecourse’s managing director, added:

‘We’ve been extremely encouraged that by working closely together with Merseyrail, Merseytravel and other transport providers we are doing everything possible to ensure racing fans will be transported effectively on Grand National day with as little disruption as possible. They have always been excellent transport partners for our event and we are very pleased they will be able to provide such comprehensive transport to and from Aintree on Saturday 8 April. I’m confident that when race-goers arrive at Aintree Racecourse they will be part of a world class spectacle – we look forward to welcoming them.’

Merseyrail timetable overview

  • 7½-minute service to Aintree from Liverpool Central between 11.15 and 13.30, calling at Moorfields only.
  • 7½-minute service from Aintree to Liverpool Central between 17.30 and 19.15, calling at Moorfields only.
  • 15-minute service to Aintree from Liverpool Central between 10.00 and 11.00, calling at Moorfields only.
  • 15-minute service from Aintree to Liverpool Central between 16.30 and 17.30, and between 19.15 and 21.00, calling at Moorfields only.
  • Rail replacement buses to run from Ormskirk to Old Roan from 10.30 till 14.00, stopping at Maghull only. Buses to run from Old Roan to Ormskirk from 16.30 till 20.00, stopping at Maghull only.
  • Six departures from Southport to Liverpool Central (09.22, 09.37, 09.52, 10.42, 10.57 and 11.12). There are no services to Southport in the morning.
  • Five departures from Liverpool Central to Southport (19.08, 19.23, 19.38, 20.30 and 20.45). There are no services from Southport in the evening.
  • Half-hourly service from Hooton to James Street from 10.15 till 14.15 and from 17.15 till 20.45.
  • Half-hourly service from James Street to Hooton from 10.15 till 14.15 and from 16.45 till 21.15.
  • Half-hourly service between West Kirby and James Street from 10.00 till 13.30 and from 16.45 till 21.00.
  • Half-hourly service from James Street to West Kirby from 10.30 till 14.00 and from 17.00 till 21.30.
  • No services between Chester and Hooton or between Ellesmere Port and Hooton. Existing bus services to offer direct connections between Chester, Ellesmere Port and Liverpool.
  • No services on the New Brighton line. Existing bus services to offer direct connections between New Brighton and Liverpool.
  • No services on the Kirkby line. Existing bus services to offer direct connections between Kirkby and Liverpool.
  • No services between Hunts Cross and Liverpool. Existing bus services to offer direct connections between Hunts Cross and Liverpool. Other train operators will be running trains between Liverpool South Parkway and Liverpool Lime Street.

Key travel advice

  • Allow plenty of time to travel.
  • Check before you travel: you can get in and out of Liverpool on mainline rail services and to Aintree and back by Merseyrail, but services may not fully cover all routes or follow the normal timetable. Merseyrail services and Northern services will also finish earlier than usual.
  • Stick to public transport wherever possible. This is to reduce congestion on key routes such as the Mersey Tunnels and roads in and out of the city-centre and around Aintree, and because trains are likely to be very crowded.
  • Full details of Merseyrail services and rail replacement buses are on the Merseyrail website (www.merseyrail.org/strike), on Twitter (@Merseyrail) and on posters at all stations or call. A booklet covering timetable information and travel advice over the three-day Grand National festival will be available at stations.
  • For the latest on Northern services visit www.nationalrail.co.uk or northernrailway.co.uk/industrialaction and follow @northernassist on Twitter.
  • For more travel options and advice visit www.merseytravel.gov.uk/railstrike or Merseytravel if you need more help in planning your journeys on 0151 236 7676.

Read more about strike action and the new Merseyrail trains here.