New Northern franchise promises dramatic service improvement from 2017

March 1, 2015

The DfT this week published the Invitation To Tender for operating the Northern franchise from 2017, and contrary to many people’s fears it includes some dramatic uplifts in minimum service levels across the network … and Walkden seems to be one of the biggest beneficiaries !

Our timetable geeks are running over the facts and figures so we may yet discover some catches, but on the face of things the new operator will be compelled to increase the number of services from Manchester on weekdays from 31 to 51 – that’s a quarter-hourly service during the day – and the Sunday service will become half-hourly during the day, and run later into the evening.

There’s “many a slip ‘twixt cup and lip” but so far as we can see this will be a legally binding minimum level of service that the winning bidder is bound to provide, and it’s difficult to imagine any shade of government that forms after May making such an unpopular move as to row back on commitments so closely linked to the main parties’ pledges to boost the northern economy.


FOWS Annual General Meeting date and venue confirmed

February 7, 2015

Our Annual General Meeting will be held at Wednesday 11th March starting at 7.30pm in the Concert Room, Walkden Legion Club, Wilfred Road, Worsley, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M28 3AJ.

Our AGM – like all our meetings – is free to attend and open to the general public, and we hope to see a mixture of old friends and new faces there.

Matthew Worman, Northern Rail’s Client & Stakeholder Manager has kindly agreed to give a short update on status and plans at Northern Rail.

Provisional dates for our 2015 meetings, which all start at 7.15pm @ Walkden Legion Club are:

  • Weds 13th May
  • Weds 15th July
  • Weds 9th Sept
  • Weds 11th Nov

Minutes of last year’s AGM are attached here for reference.


Good riddance to the Pacers ? Not so fast …

February 7, 2015
About as warm and comfortable as a bobsleigh, Pacers are the temporary solution that keeps on clinging on

About as warm and comfortable as a sleigh ride, Pacers are the temporary solution that keeps on clinging on

After the government’s Autumn statement where the Chancellor finally pledged to rid the railways of Pacer trains by 2020, the Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has this week muddied the waters by telling journalists “There may be odd routes where they will still have a role but overall the Pacers have had their day”.

This latest development, which has caused dismay for travellers across the North, suggests the government have realised what industry insiders said at the time of George Osborne’s promise – at the current rate of electrification and without any plans to order replacement diesels, the pledge would not be honoured.

Meanwhile, the government continues to place orders for brand new trains to operate in the south-east.



Ticket prices rise from Jan 2nd

December 30, 2014

The January increases to rail fares from Walkden can be found on the National Rail Enquiries website Journey Planner – simply enter a date after 1st January for your journey and press Check Fares.

Increases are modest in comparison with some of the rises in recent years. The main commuter fare from Walkden – the Peak Return – is going up 10p to £6.40, that’s a rise of 1.6%. The 1 month season ticket goes up £2.30 to £96.80.

Here’s a few of the more common fares from Walkden:

Peak Return to Mcr Off Peak Return to Mcr Peak Single to Mcr Off Peak Single to Mcr 1 Month Season Ticket
Old fare £6.30 £3.90 £4.10 £3.80 £94.50
New fare £6.40 £4.00 £4.20 £3.90 £96.80
increase 1.6% 2.6% 2.4% 2.6% 2.4%

If you have a long-term season ticket (3, 6 or 12 months) you may consider renewing on or before Jan 1st to beat the price rise which comes into effect on Jan 2nd.


Extra trains for Christmas Saturdays

November 27, 2014

Northern Rail are laying on some extra services on Saturdays, and extra carriages on Sundays, in the run up to Christmas.

It took us a while to find the announcement but here are the details of 5 extra trains into Manchester on Saturday mornings, and 9 coming back in the afternoon and evening: Christmas Comes Early for Festive Travellers.

Meanwhile, Sunday trains appear to have been upgraded to 4 carriages: last Sunday all trains ran as 4 carriages, but even then some were “full and standing”.

This is undoubtedly extremely welcome news from Northern, and we applaud them for finding some extra carriages from their very stretched resources. However, such is the demand for train travel at this time of year we can only echo Northern’s warning that trains will be very busy and you may not be able to get on your preferred service – so make plans to travel a bit earlier if you can.


Passenger Numbers Hold Steady

November 22, 2014

This year’s FOWS passenger count on Nov 20th recorded almost identical passenger numbers using the station as last year: 707 instead of 711.

Around 50 extra passengers used the trains towards Manchester, counter balanced by 40 less in the Wigan direction – evidence perhaps of road users giving up on the congested East Lancs and A6 to try the train ? If so they would have found a good service in operation with some full trains (but all passengers able to board), good punctuality, and only one (off-peak) service cancelled.

The graph below shows the impressive rise in passenger numbers since FOWS’ first survey in 2007.

For full details of the survey results, check the Passenger Numbers page on the FOWS website.



Sign the Petition Against Northern Fare Hikes

August 23, 2014

The Campaign for Better Transport are running an on-line petition against scrapping of Cheap Evening fares in Greater Manchester and introduction of higher fares for afternoon/evening services.

If you object to the changes please take a minute to sign the petition here.


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