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Oakervee wows North West by train and bus

ICE news

ICE NORTH WEST gave president Douglas Oakervee a warm welcome earlier this month when he toured the region using public transport only.

Oakervee visited parts of Manchester and Liverpool using local buses, trains, and the Mersey ferry to complete his hectic nine-hour tour, 38 minutes ahead of schedule.

The tour covered new and old civil engineering projects ranging from a ride on the world's first inter-city railway to visiting the new terminal building at John Lennon airport.

The day started at 8.35am at Manchester's Oxford Road Station when the presidential party took the Number 2 bus to Victoria station from where they travelled by train to Liverpool.

George Stephenson's Liverpool to Manchester Railway was one of the highlights of its day.

Built in 1830, it was the world's first inter-city railway.

On arriving in Liverpool, the party was able to take in the delights of the 1935 Queensway Road tunnel - the largest underwater tunnel in the world when it was built.

The trip was well received by Oakervee. 'With so many years overseas, I had forgotten just how steeped in engineering and industrial history the North West is, ' he enthused.

And this, it seems, was ICE North West development engineer Paul Dunkerley's prime intention.

'We wanted to show off what had been built in the past and which has stood the test of time, ' he said.

To keep the balance between old and new projects, passenger transport authority Merseytravel gave a presentation on future plans for Liverpool city centre.

A ride on the Mersey ferry was next on the agenda, followed by a bus journey to Liverpool's newly renamed John Lennon airport. Here again the north west's heritage was wearing well, with the 1930s terminal building now converted into a four star hotel.

Old aircraft hangars have been reincarnated as a new leisure centre.

The trip generated local media interest from BBC Radio Mersey and Radio Manchester, which interviewed the president enroute.

Later in the day, Oakervee attended a party hosted by the North West Graduates & Students Committee which was themed around a children's party - complete with party hats and games.

But it was not all fun for the president as he was grilled on topical issues such as his views on top-up fees and the issue of voting rights for graduates and students.

Oakervee said he reluctantly accepted the need for introducing university top-up fees, adding that it was up to the industry to react positively by offering student sponsorship deals.

On the issue of graduate and student voting rights, he said that it was 'not impossible' to change the current situation, but that full member backing would be required.

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