Archive for November, 2007

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One step forward, one step back …

November 27, 2007

Later on the same day that FOWS planted the new flower bed on the Manchester platform, vandals attacked the bed on the Wigan platform, pulling out bedding flowers and ripping off much of the lavender bush.

FOWS are very grateful to Marion in the booking office for recovering the uprooted flowers and replanting them so that the damage was mainly repaired the next morning.

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Second Flower Bed at Walkden

November 25, 2007
Volunteer working FOWS volunteers have planted up a second disused flower bed at Walkden station, this time on the Manchester-bound platform. The north-facing site has been planted with shade-dwelling shrubs and winter flowers purchased with a Salford City Council grant.For more pictures of the gardening project, please click here.
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FOWS Survey Walkden Passenger Numbers

November 25, 2007

On Thursday this week FOWS volunteers conducted a count of passenger numbers from the first train at 06.29 through to 13.30, with the objective of collecting up-to-date figures to compare with historic data provided by GMPTE.

A Thursday was chosen for the survey as it is usually a fairly “average” day of the week for passenger numbers, although the day turned out to be quieter than usual (with the lowest booking office takings of the week), possibly in reaction to the extensive delays suffered the previous day when a train failed at Salford Crescent.

The total number of passengers boarding or alighting was found to have fallen from 418 last year to 388, but dividing the day into Peak (07.30 – 09.30) and Off-Peak (09.30 – 13.30) revealed that people travelling toward Manchester during Peak hours had risen by 10% from 157 to 172, whereas Off-Peak numbers had dropped from 91 to 75.

The rise in Peak travel numbers will surely come as no surprise to regular users of the station, but the drop in Off-Peak numbers is puzzling considering that free Off-Peak travel has been introduced since last year’s survey.

During the survey:

  • all 27 services ran and departed within  4 minutes of schedule
  • almost half of all services were operated with the unpopular “Pacer” (class 142) type of train
  • 25 out of the 27 trains had only 2 carriages, two trains had 4 carriages
  • the busiest train was the 08.01 to Manchester which was boarded by 72 passengers
  • considering that the 08.01 was a 2-carriage train and already carrying standing passengers when it arrived, it is remarkable that all passengers were able to board and the train was (obviously) extremely crowded.

Full details of the survey will be published on the FOWS website shortly.

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Northern remove graffiti quickly

November 15, 2007

Thanks to Northern Rail and maintenance contractors ISS for moving quickly to obliterate the latest outbreak of graffiti within 24 hours.

In contrast to Northern’s sppedy action, an article in today’s Salford Advertiser reports that GMPTE don’t plan to make any significant investment in stations like Walkden for up to 10 years … I’m afraid it looks like those “Life on Mars” headlines will hold true for quite some time unless GMPTE change their plans.

FOWS are grateful for an excellent series of articles in the Advertiser by Pamela Welsh that have focused on the state of Walkden station and public transport in Greater Manchester generally. You can read Pamela’s previous article online here.

If you think this isn’t good enough and GMPTE should be doing more to encourage the use and development of Walkden station, why not write to your local councillor or the chair of GMPTE Roger Jones ? All councillors contact details can be found on the Salford website.

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Northern Respond to FOWS Appeal for Longer Platforms

November 13, 2007

In the light of on-going over-crowding problems caused by the short trains that serve Walkden in the morning FOWS recently wrote to Northern MD Heidi Mottram to appeal for some of the disused section of platform to be returned to use, allowing the longer “Atherton Express” trains to stop here.

Mrs Mottram has replied saying that Northern are “very well aware” of the overcrowding problem at Walkden and outlining their plans to investigate the possibility of lengthening the platform.

Northern are considering whether some 20m of disused platform could be returned to use and are clearing an area behind the wooden barrier for further analysis. Although Mrs Mottram warns that no funds are currently available, FOWS are encouraged that the scheme is being actively pursued and will continue to persuade Northern of the business benefits of a longer platform.

If you have suffered because of rush-hour overcrowding at Walkden, you can write to Northern at customer.relations@northernrail.org to make a comment or complaint: as the Northern Rail website says “We know that we can always improve so if there is anything you think we should be doing please contact us.”

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Vandals strike again

November 13, 2007

More gormless graffiti has appeared at the station again this evening – Northern have been notified.

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Christmas Engineering Works Cancelled

November 12, 2007

FOWS understands the line closure proposed for Saturday 29th December has now been cancelled – presumably the works will be rescheduled for a later date.