Archive for May, 2008

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FOWS link up with Chapel Street Business Group

May 30, 2008
The Chapel Street Business Group Building on our good relations with Salford and Manchester Chambers of Commerce, FOWS have joined the Chapel Street Business Group.

Many businesses in Salford and Manchester share our concerns about over-crowding and the lack of Sunday services, factors that directly impact their customers and staff as they attempt to travel into town.

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Painting underway !

May 21, 2008

Network Rail’s painting team yesterday started work on repainting the canopy and even the areas that have been only undercoated already look much better than before !
The ironwork and woodwork are thought to be in reasonable condition, and the team will also be jetting out the pillars so that they can once again function properly as guttering downpipes.
The colour scheme will be the same as at Swinton: white and dark blue with the painters applying some nice artistic licence to pick out some of the details of the ironwork.

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Few Changes in Summer Timetable

May 20, 2008

The summer timetable – valid from May 19th until October 5th – contains just one major change from its predecessor, the addition of the traditional summer-only daily return service to Blackpool North.

The Blackpool train leaves Walkden at 1028 (Mon-Sat) and gets back at 2020 (Mon-Fri) or 2029 (Sat). This service only runs from now until September 13th.

Other changes in the new timetable are less significant:

a) the 2039 to Manchester is partially retimed: from September 20th and on Saturday’s only, this will run 6 minutes later departing Walkden at 2045.

b) the 2237 to Huddersfield now terminates at Manchester Victoria Mon-Fri. It continues to serves Huddersfield on Saturdays until September 6th but then only runs as far as Greenfield on Saturdays from September 13th on.

Unfortunately there are no improvements to the difficult connections at Salford Crescent, nor extra rush-hour services yet. We are hopefully that these may be achieved by Northern in the next timetable but one: December 2008.

Of course there are still, regrettably, no Sunday services whatsoever.

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Redecorating Starts This Week

May 20, 2008

Following completion of the smart repainting of Swinton station the decorating team will begin work on Walkden this week. We are eagerly anticipating a shiny new look for the station in the next few weeks !

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Customer Information Point at Victoria

May 20, 2008

Northern Rail have started to convert the old Northern Belle office next to Victoria station’s platform 3 into a Customer Information Point to provide help with journey planning and passenger advice.

FOWS welcome this useful new facility for passengers, especially new or infrequent train users. It’s also a welcome improvement to the appearance and facilities of the grand old station which for years has suffered from under-investment in comparison with Piccadilly across the city centre.

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Office of Rail Regulation say Walkden platform gap only ‘medium risk’

May 14, 2008

For the past year FOWS have been campaigning for Network Rail to address the dangerously large gap between the platform edge and train doorways at Walkden. The unusually high and wide step has seen several people slip terrifyingly between platform and train over the past few years, and presents a massive barrier to elderly, disabled, or mobility impaired passengers.

Network Rail have acknowledged that the ‘stepping distance’ at Walkden is outside current safety standards, but say they don’t have to fix it as it’s an historic problem they’ve inherited.

After Network Rail’s refusal to act FOWS turned to the government’s rail watchdog –  the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR). Our first letter was met with a standard reply suggesting there are many stations around the country in a similar condition. We wrote again to stress exactly how large the gaps was at Walkden (it has been measured at 17 inches) and the fact that people have fallen onto the track on several occasions.

Our second letter prompted a site visit by the local safety inspectorate who – amazingly – classified the risk as ‘low’ on one platform and ‘medium’ on the other. On the basis of this the only action is planned is painting ‘Mind the gap’ on the platform and continuing the ‘low platform’ announcements on trains. While these measures may marginally mitigate the risk of an accident, they do nothing at all to help those passengers who struggle to – or simply cannot – board or disembark from trains because of the high step.

We urge all passengers affected by this problem to write to Customer Services at Northern Rail. As tenants of Network Rail, they are in the best position to ask for improvements from Network Rail – if enough complaints are received from passengers.

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Walkden to get a makeover

May 14, 2008

You may have noticed the smart repainting currently underway at Swinton. Happily the decorators are making their way along the line and Walkden will soon benefit from a repainted canopy and pillars. The pillars – which are hollow and supposed to serve as gutter downpipes – will also be cleaned out so the water can flow through them again.

Network Rail are also going to replace the leaking roof of the booking office and entrance hall, which should also help improve the appearance of the station.