Archive for June, 2008


Walkden celebrates 120 years

June 29, 2008

Wednesday July 2nd marks the 120th Anniversary of the first passenger service from Walkden, and FOWS will be celebrating the historic occasion from 7.30am to 9am in the station booking hall:

  • grab one of 120 goody bags that FOWS will be giving out to celebrate the day
  • enter our raffle and for just 50p you could win a return ticket for 2 adults and 2 children on any Northern service
  • join the Birthday Cake cutting ceremony at 9am
  • take the chance to talk to members of FOWS and representatives from Northern Rail and British Transport Police.

Join us to celebrate this long-serving, long-neglected amenity that’s finally experiencing a renaissance in appearance and passenger numbers !

Please check out our website for more information about the history of the station.


Railway’s popularity exceeds all expectations in Scotland

June 29, 2008

One of our members recently visited Scotland and had a chance to experience the brand new passenger service from Stirling to Alloa. He reported very good station buildings including waiting rooms and nice long platforms big enough for 6-carriage trains (“and you did not need a ladder to get off the train !”).

The devolved governments in Scotland and Wales have rightly been praised for their vision in building new railway lines and re-opening long-closed routes to better serve their communities. However it seems even the Scots underestimated the incredible popularity of this new service: a ticket office wasn’t included at the new Alloa station and with just a 10 minute journey into Stirling the trains are too full for the conductor to sell tickets either. The result is queues of people waiting for up to 20 minutes to buy a ticket at Stirling so they can leave the station !

Perhaps timid railway planning isn’t restricted to just England after all, and ScotRail are now hurrying to install ticket machines on the platform at Alloa.


All your questions answered …

June 27, 2008

…. well maybe we haven’t got quite everything yet, but we have added an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section to our website to address some of the most popular things that people ask us.

Please click here to see it, and let us know if we’ve missed out anything major.



Flower beds given some TLC

June 15, 2008
Spruced up flower bed on the Manchester platform FOWS volunteers have been freshening up the planters and flower beds on Walkden station, putting down new compost, repainting the kick-boards and planting new summer bedding plants.

The untended area at the Wigan end of the Manchester platform is being deliberately left empty at the moment as roof-repairs are imminent at the station and the work crews are likely to use this area for access. FOWS have however secured funding to plant up this area once the roof work is complete.


Dozens of Sunday trains at Walkden … but none of them stop !

June 15, 2008
A diverted TransPennine Express train approaching Walkden Walkden station has seen plenty of trains again this Sunday as engineering work on the Bolton line has caused Northern and Trans Pennine Express services to Blackpool, Southport, Manchester Airport, and Barrow (amongst other destinations) to be diverted via the Atherton line.

Meanwhile the station itself remains one of the busiest in the Manchester area without a Sunday service. Today – as so often on a Sunday – FOWS volunteers working on the station have had to break the news to more than 10 would-be passengers that the last Sunday service left over 40 years ago.

FOWS are campaigning for Northern Rail and GMPTE to re-introduce Sunday services at Walkden. Support our campaign by contacting your local councillor or MP and asking them to press the case for Walkden to GMPTE.


Passenger numbers keep on rising

June 14, 2008

Recently published figures from GMPTE’s latest passenger numbers survey confirm what every Walkden commuter knows – the number of passengers is continuing to rocket.

GMPTE conduct a survey every year and this year’s figures show a 14.4% increase in morning peak numbers and a more modest 1% increase off-peak. However, as the figures below show, the numbers are substantially reduced by the decline in the number of passengers alighting at Walkden – the number of passengers boarding trains here has increased by even more than 14%.

The rising popularity of the station is confirmed by Office of Rail Regulation figures which estimate the annual number of passengers at Walkden to be 156,000 in 2007 – a 5% increase on the previous year.


Walkden in line for TIF Improvements

June 14, 2008

This week’s approval of Greater Manchester’s bid for up to £3 billion of investment by Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly could signal significant improvements for Walkden station and trains along the Atherton line.

Walkden is highlighted on GMPTE’s TIF Map for TIF Funded Improvements which FOWS understand to include CCTV, real-time passenger information and improved signage at the station. The Atherton line – along with the Eccles line – is also singled out for additional carriages to ease congestion, although these might quickly be filled by additional passengers using the new proposed Park & Ride facility at Atherton.

Although there is some way to go before the TIF project becomes a reality and the improvements will not be seen for a few years yet, we are pleased that GMPTE have recognised Walkden’s particular need for modernisation in their plans.


Bus Replacement for the 2318 from Victoria this week

June 13, 2008

Apologies for the late posting, but for this week (Mon 9th -Fri 13th) the last train from Manchester has been replaced by a (slooooow) bus to allow overnight engineering works near Hindley.

Today is the last scheduled day for the bus – hopefully things should be back to normal from tomorrow.



Station repairs large and small

June 10, 2008

As regular passengers will of course know the platform canopy at Walkden is currently receiving a long overdue paint job. You might not have noticed some smaller repairs that have also been made in the last few weeks :

* Removal of graffiti from platform name signs
* Fixing the broken pipe at the end of the booking hall
* Repainting the booking office panels to the right of the ticket window
* The broken step at the start of the second flight of stairs has been replaced
* The insides of the canopy pillars have been unblocked so that rain water drains out through them instead of onto the platform
* And finally … the football lodged in the rafters of the booking hall has been removed !

Individually these may be minor improvements – but at least it shows that maintenance of the station is on-going and – slowly but surely – Northern are improving its appearance.

Regular surveys of the station’s condition are taken by FOWS and can be found on their website by clicking here


Railways boom in Scotland and Wales

June 10, 2008

A recent posting on this blog reflected enviously on the new high-speed inter-city express services being introduced in Spain, but you don’t have to look that far to find new high-quality commuter services opening up around the UK.

In Scotland, a brand new railway line has been built to serve Alloa, while in South Wales a disused freight line has been re-opened for passenger services in Ebbw Vale. Every station along the Ebbw Vale line has been built from scratch and equipped with CCTV, passenger information systems, help-points, and disabled access. Although most services are only 2-carriage trains the stations are long enough to cope with 4-carriage trains in future. And the line also enjoys a service 7 days a week.

The line was expected to attract 400,000 passengers a year, but with over 100,000 journeys made in the first 9 weeks it seems likely to exceed that target easily and plans are already afoot to extend services.

The development has been funded by the Welsh Assembly and just goes to show how successful rail services can be – and how much is possible when the political will exists.