Tuesday 19 June 2007


So this is what I'm dealing with (clicky for biggie). 67 stations on the blue (Northern) and green (Wirral) lines. It doesn't sound much, I know, in comparison with the hundreds of Tube stations, but there are a couple of key differences which make this an onerous task.
1) Lack of interchanges. There are only two places where the Northern Line meets the Wirral, and they're both in Liverpool city centre. After that, they branch off all over the place. There's no option of taking a Bakerloo train or a Jubilee to get to your destination; once you're on a route, you're stuck!
2) Service frequency. Only in Liverpool-Hamilton Square is there Tube-like frequency; everywhere else it's a fifteen minute service (except at the outer edges of the Wirral line, where it's every thirty minutes!) So if I hop off a train, I've got to loiter for a fair while for the next one. Not a particularly pleasing prospect in such well know scally-heavens as Kirkby and Bootle.
3) I'm on my own. For the moment, anyway. Right now I'm keeping this a private project, between me and, yes, potentially billions of internet readers, but that's not the point. I haven't told any friends or loved ones yet. Let's get the project going first so there's something worth seeing!

Sunday 17 June 2007

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery.

Oh, Tubewhore, look what you've done!

I love the Tubewhore (http://tubewhore.livejournal.com/379.html). I love her style, her grace, her wit. But most of all, I love her project. She is visiting every Tube station there is, despite the fact that she lives at the other end of the country, and she is taking pictures of herself doing it. And I love her for it.

Because I've been obsessed by the Tube since I was young. That's exactly the kind of thing I would have loved to have done, and she's doing it, right now. I'm jealous. I'm annoyed. I'm copying her.

I have a second obsession, you see. It may not be as glamorous as the Tube, but I love Merseyrail. It's the rail network for Liverpool and its surroundings, and, since I moved here 12 years ago, I've been obsessed with it. It's historic, and it's modern; it goes out into the countryside, and it shuttles underneath city streets. It has big yellow and grey trains that don't have enough seats, if you ask me.

So I am, shamelessly, going to try and be the Tubewhore of the North West. I am the Merseytart. I'm going to visit every Merseyrail station, by hell or high water - well, maybe not high water, because some of those trains go under the river, and that strikes me as dangerous - but I'm going to do it.

Here are the rules:

1) Every station on the Northern and Wirral lines must be visited. I'm leaving the City line, because, let's face it, that's not proper Merseyrail; it's the North London Line of Liverpool. The Northern and Wirral Lines are the two lines that are controlled by Serco, and they are also controlled by the Merseytravel; they are completely isolated from the rest of the National Rail network, and they're operated by the aforementioned yellow and grey trains. They are Merseyrail.

2) A photo must be taken of me (the Merseytart) with the station sign in the background. Unless I'm having a bad hair day.

3) If there is an Attractive Feature Board (more on these later), a picture is required.

4) Nothing except trains and my own little legs can be used to track the stations. I'm saying this because Merseyrail's not the biggest of networks, and, if you used a car, you could probably polish them off in a day. However, (i) I don't drive, and (ii) even if I did, driving to a train station is just wrong.

I may think of more rules as I go along, or I may withdraw one or more of these, but for the moment they'll do.

Right now, I am so excited about this. I have been excited about projects like this before, but I've never actually done much about them. I may lose interest after a week, or I may not. A big advantage is that I use the Wirral Line every day for work so, hopefully, I should get at least three of the stations under my belt (why three? Stay tuned, viewers).

God I hope she doesn't sue.