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Station closure ads campaign goes off rails.

Byline: Joe Riley

MERSEYTRAVEL bosses may well have taken final leave of their senses by agreeing to spend pounds 85m of taxpayers'' money renting a new waterfront HQ from a German company over the next 30 years, when they already own offices in the city centre.

But the immediate cause for public concern is the six-month closure of Liverpool Central Station for a pounds 20m refit.

The busiest underground stop outside London, serving 15m passengers a year, will be out of service from mid-April until October.

Already, train operator Merseyrail is preparing to cope with the enormous disruption for businesses and travellers.

This includes ensuring safety for the inevitable rush-hour invasions of even smaller Moorfields Station.

Plans include permanent six-car trains, frequent transfer buses across the city, and the late-night opening of the Old Hall Street entrance to Moorfields.

Other concerns expressed by public focus groups include the present inadequate toilet provision, and a lack of information for affected city centre pedestrians.

Taxi drivers are also angry at the prospect of replacement buses blocking their traditional rank spaces outside Moorfields and Central.

Meanwhile, shops in the Bold Street area are bracing themselves for a massive potential loss of business, akin to that during the pre-Capital of Culture Big Dig road and pavement rebuilding scheme.

But I can reveal that the biggest "No" so far has come from focus group reaction to a proposed poster campaign.

The notices, in lurid shades of pink, magenta and yellow, use pronouns such as I and Me to personalise Central Station as a much-loved friend keeping in touch during the refurb.

But, as one commuter so aptly put it: "It's a facility, not a partner. We don''t want a soppy pretend relationship. Just simple, accurate, infor mation."

Having seen the posters, I couldn''t agree more. In their present form they are merely a blatant, patronising waste of time and money.

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MERSEYTRAVEL CHAIRMAN MARK DOWD: New HQ on the horizon - but trouble underground
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Feb 16, 2012
Words:329
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