|Passenger Transport Executive|
|Founded||Transport Act 1968
(1 December 1969)
|Liverpool City Region|
|Parent||Liverpool City Region Combined Authority|
Merseytravel is the passenger transport executive responsible for the coordination of public transport in the Liverpool City Region, North West England. Merseytravel was established on 1 December 1969 and was also known as the Merseyside Passenger Transport Executive (MPTE). From 1 April 2014 Merseytravel expanded its area of operation from the metropolitan county of Merseyside to also include the Borough of Halton.
The Merseyside Passenger Transport Authority was first established as a result of the Transport Act 1968, and included communities such as the urban districts of Formby, Lancashire and Neston, Cheshire. The latter was removed from Merseyside Passenger Transport jurisdiction in 1974 when the transport organisation's boundaries were made co-extensive with the new metropolitan county of Merseyside which was formally created by the Local Government Act 1972. At this time a committee of councillors of Merseyside County Council became the transport authority.
When the metropolitan county councils were abolished by the Local Government Act 1985, new structures had to be created. A new joint board - again called The Merseyside Passenger Transport Authority - was created. It was later renamed the Merseyside Integrated Transport Authority and comprised 18 councillors assembled from Merseyside's five districts: Liverpool, Knowsley, St Helens, Sefton and Wirral.
On 1 April 2014, the Merseyside Integrated Transport Authority was abolished and reformed as the Merseytravel Committee of Liverpool City Region Combined Authority. The transport authority area is extended to include the whole of the Liverpool City Region, which comprises Merseyside and the Borough of Halton.
Northern and Wirral Line
As a result of the privatisation of British Rail, the Northern Line and Wirral Line of the local Merseyrail rail network were brought together as the Mersey Rail Electrics passenger franchise, sold on 19 January 1997. Under the original privatisation legislation of 1993, PTEs were co-signatories of franchis agreements covering their areas. The first train operating company (TOC) awarded the franchise contract was MTL, originally the operating arm of the PTE, but privatised itself in 1985. They used the brand name Merseyrail Electrics, but after MTL was sold to Arriva, the company was rebranded Arriva Trains Merseyside from 27 April 2001.
When the franchise came up for renewal, reflecting the exclusive nature of the two lines - being largely isolated from the rest of the National Rail network and with no through passenger services to/from outside the Merseyrail network, the decision was taken to remove it from the national framework and bring it into local control. As a result, using the Merseyrail Electrics Network Order 2002 the Secretary of State first exempted the system from being designated as a railway franchise under the privatisation legislation (the 1993 Railways Act). Coming into force on 20th July 2003, this then allowed the PTE to contract out the lines themselves, which they did so as a 25 year concession. The first successful bidder was Merseyrail Electrics (2002) Ltd, a joint venture between Serco and NedRailways.
A third line, the City Line, also historically branded as Merseyrail under British Rail, was also privatised under the 1993 Act, but as part of a different, much larger North West Regional Railways (NWRR) franchise. Upon sale on 2 March 1997, the first TOC awarded the franchise contract was North Western Trains (owned by Great Western Holdings). The TOC was later bought by First Group and rebranded First North Western. This line was not included in the 2003 exemption given to the other two lines, and so it has continued as part of the government administered rail franchise system, although the role of PTEs in the franchising process has altered due to the 2005 Railways Act. From 11 December 2004, the NWRR franchise was merged into a new Northern franchise. The first TOC awarded this franchise contract was Northern Rail, owned by Serco Ned Rail, a Serco/Abellio joint venture. Upon retendering, Northern Rail failed to retain the contract, and it will instead be passing to Arriva from 1 April 2016, as Arriva Rail North.
Prior to the Transport Act (1985) which nationally mandated the deregulation and privatisation of bus services in 1986 throughout England except Greater London, it operated a large proportion of the bus services on Merseyside, under the Merseyside Transport brand. It had taken over the municipally provided bus operations of Liverpool, Birkenhead and Wallasey county borough corporations in 1970, and expanded to cover the county borough municipal corporation areas and bus services of St Helens and Southport in 1974. After deregulation, these were branded as Merseybus, and were subsequently privatised as MTL. Later, MTL was bought by Arriva, but was required by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission to divest some of its Liverpool operations; which are now operated by the Stagecoach Group.
Nowadays, Merseytravel is also responsible for providing bus services which are considered socially necessary but are not profitable, these are operated by other operators, using a best value tendering system. Fares are presently subsidised at levels lower than local commercial services.
Merseytravel are responsible for the management of local, reduced cost, integrated ticketing systems. They are also the body responsible in Merseyside for providing and funding concessionary travel for the elderly and disabled, through the English National Concessionary Bus Travel Scheme. For those not at the present Pension age, but over the former applicable ages of 60 and 65, for men and women respectively, Merseytravel are funded to operate a localised version of the scheme.
Ferries and tunnels
Merseytravel owns and operates the famous Mersey Ferry service between Liverpool Pier Head, Seacombe in Wallasey and Woodside in Birkenhead. The fleet consists of three vessels: Royal Iris of the Mersey, Snowdrop and Royal Daffodil.
There are three transport tunnels under the River Mersey. The passenger transport executive is responsible for the two road vehicular tunnels under the River Mersey, one connecting Birkenhead to Liverpool city centre, the other, Wallasey, to the centre of Liverpool, and consequently it controls the Mersey Tunnels Police. The tunnel to, and from, Birkenhead is formally called Queensway, and the Wallasey, Kingsway. The Merseyrail also runs through a railway tunnel under the river connecting central Liverpool and Birkenhead. The latter was the first transport tunnel under the Mersey to be built, in the nineteenth century.
Neil Scales OBE, the former Chief Executive and Director General of Merseytravel, in his presentation "Growing the Railways on Merseyside"., outlined some major projects that Merseytravel may be involved in in the future:
- Electrification of Kirkby - Headbolt Lane, Bidston - Wrexham, Liverpool - Earlestown - Manchester, Huyton - St. Helens - Wigan sections
- The Halton Curve, St. Helens Junction, and Bootle - Aintree branch
- Further electrification between Hunts Cross - Warrington - Manchester, Headbolt Lane - Wigan and Ormskirk - Preston.
- Liverpool F.C. football stadium access from the Bootle branch
- Re-investment in the Burscough Curves, linking Southport to Ormskirk and Preston
- 3rd rail electrification between Helsby and Ellesmere Port, (see Ellesmere Port to Warrington Line)
For ticketing purposes, Merseyside, hitherto, has historically been divided into four areas:
- Area A: St Helens, Knowsley;
- Area B: Wirral;
- Area C: Liverpool, south Sefton (Bootle, Crosby and Maghull), Knowsley;
- Area D: north Sefton (Southport and Formby).;
Out of current city region combined area:
- Area E: (None Existing since January 2008) Crossover Wirral and Liverpool.
- Area F: Ormskirk;
- Area G: Chester, Ellesmere Port
Each area is further subdivided into zones. There is considerable overlap of area A and C, with all parts of Knowsley lying in area A also being covered by area C. This region is designated as zone A3/C2/C3.
Two rail-only areas exist, for stations covered by Merseyrail outside of the current Liverpool City Region. Area F covers the Northern Line from Maghull to Ormskirk, whilst Area G covers the section of the Wirral Line from Hooton to Ellesmere Port and Chester.
Until January 2008, a "cross-Mersey" area E existed, which covered the central areas of Liverpool and Birkenhead, as well as the ferry terminal at Seacombe. Tickets were commonly issued for areas B and E covering the whole of Wirral together with Liverpool city centre. Birkenhead railway stations covered by area E were:
- "Proposal to establish a combined authority for Greater Merseyside" (PDF). Department for Communities and Local Government. November 2013. Retrieved 8 December 2013.
- House of Common Briefing Paper SN6521 Railways: franchising policy, 30 September 2015, Louise Butcher
- Growing the Railways on Merseyside