Derek has joined fellow MPs from across the Cheshire and Merseyside area in standing up for his constituents who will be facing disruption to their train journeys to the FA Cup Final on the May bank holiday weekend.
In the wake of the controversial decision of the Football Association to put-back the Chelsea v Liverpool Cup Final on Saturday 5 May from its traditional 3pm kick-off to 5.15pm, Derek and his colleagues are urging Network Rail to call a halt to long-planned bank holiday engineering works, or at least to minimise their impact on thousands of Liverpool fans, as they try to get back home from the Cup Final. This comes after Virgin Trains issued a press release giving a blunt warning to Liverpool fans "that there are no realistic options for return travel from London after the FA Cup Final on Saturday 5 May...As we have explained to the FA, the staging of the FA Cup Final on a Bank Holiday weekend...and the decision to have a 17:15 kick-off means there are no options for fans to return north the same day after the game."
Not only are services being curtailed for return journeys for Saturday 5 May, but Liverpool fans face arduous return journeys of around five and a half hours due to section closures on the London to Liverpool route on Sunday 6th May, which means it could be bank holiday Monday 7 May at the earliest that some fans will return to Merseyside by rail. Added to the fact that just three early morning services are scheduled to be available to London on Saturday 5 May, and fans will have to travel via Manchester, Chester or Stoke-on-Trent, they face a weekend of delayed, disrupted and over-crowded journeys as they travel to and from the Cup Final.
Signing a joint letter of Merseyside MPs to Network Rail Chief Executive David Higgins, Derek said;
"It is not acceptable that many Liverpool supporters will either face extremely slow and crowded trains back to Liverpool over the weekend, or will be forced to wait to return home until after the Bank Holiday. This seems to us to be unfair on those thousands of fans who will be paying substantial amounts of money to enjoy watching their team in the Final. That's why I've joined my Merseyside and Cheshire colleagues in writing to Network Rail to address these problems of extremely limited capacity and lengthy delays - to consider postponing the engineering works to another weekend, or, if this is not possible, to find ways of minimising levels of disruption to rail travel as much as possible on this Cup Final bank holiday weekend."