Archive for July, 2008

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Support the Save Woodhead Tunnel Campaign

July 31, 2008

The Save Woodhead Tunnel Campaign have planned a demonstration at 2pm this Saturday 2nd August to protest against plans to lay electricity cables through the disused Woodhead rail tunnel on the east of Manchester.

If the tunnel is used for cabling it will massively increase the costs of re-opening the railway line in future – something the residents of east Manchester and Sheffield are campaigning for.

With roads and trains between Manchester and Sheffield already heavily congested, closing off the tunnel for future rail use is a typically short-sighted move of the kind we have suffered so many times on Manchester’s rail network.

For details of the campaign and Saturday’s demo, please click here

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Walkden gets Spruced-Up for Summer !

July 30, 2008

FOWS have been weeding and gardening on the station to smarten the place up for the summer. For pictures and details please click here

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Who’s been Busy with our Lizzies ?

July 24, 2008

It’s sad to think someone is mean enough to steal flowers from a community garden but unless our Busy Lizzies have grown legs that’s exactly what seems to have happened to the flower beds at Walkden station !

FOWS will replace lost plants while our resources last, but we’re just a voluntary organisation funded exclusively by gifts and donations and don’t have much cash to spend.

As always, if you have plants which you would like to donate to the station, please email us at friends@walkdenstation.org.uk or call 07754 051 475

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Read Barbara Keeley’s speech on Walkden and the TIF

July 22, 2008

The full text of Worsley MP Barbara Keeley’s recent speech, which opened the parliamentary debate on Manchester’s TIF bid, can be read online here.

Ms Keeley eloquently describes the problems at Walkden station in detail, as well as other problems with the inaccessibility and poor provision of public transport in our area.

As Ms Keeley quite rightly says “There is only limited use of rail networks through Atherton and Walkden for commuting into Manchester, because the services are overcrowded and subject to other problems, too. Express trains from Atherton do not stop at Walkden, because of the limited length of the platform. The two-carriage trains that do stop there tend to be full, and 30, 40 or more people are regularly left there in the morning peak hour, because they cannot get on the overcrowded trains.”

Access to Walkden station is poor. There are two flights of stairs and no lift. The facilities are outdated and the station infrastructure is in urgent need of renewal. There are no car-parking facilities at the station apart from parking in nearby residential streets.”

Ms Keeley’s speech is well worth reading for anyone who has an interest in the TIF bid – which should mean all users of Walkden station ! – and FOWS are very grateful for her continuing fight to secure improvements at Walkden.

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Transport Committee slams “too modest” government’s railway plans

July 22, 2008

The House of Common’s Transport Select Committee, a group of MPs including ex-leader of Manchester City Council Graham Stringer, has issued a critical review of the government’s “Delivering a Sustainable Railway”  strategy for the railways

Whilst welcoming the government’s willingness to plan for the long-term future (“we congratulate Ministers on the development of the first structured plan to develop our railways in many decades”) the committee concluded the government’s vision was far too modest when factors such as rising passenger numbers, oil prices, and environment concerns are taken into account.

The committee regrets that the government refused to commit to building high-speed railways to offer a better alternative to domestic flights and warns that “Hesitation now will mean years of avoidable misery and overcrowding on the network.”

On electrification the committee approves of the government’s very recent change of heart after previously dismissing it “too lightly”. The committee said “We are pleased the Government appears finally to have seen sense on electrification”.

The committee expressed serious concerns about the performance and governance of Network Rail, saying the director’s recent bonuses “added insult to injury for the long-suffering passengers who have had to struggle with the consequences of the company’s failings”. They also find the structure of Network Rail inadequate and recommends the government finds an alternate structure that provides greater accountability.

On increasing network capacity the committee says the government is again “over-cautious” and call for “significant expansion of the network sooner rather than later”.

The 1,300 new carriages that the government have pledged to order are welcomed but the committee also warns “it is clear that, due to the growth in rail patronage, the new stock is unlikely to relieve overcrowding significantly”.

In conclusion the review says that “The White Paper is very light on vision and strategic thinking, and rather represents a missed opportunity … The Government should now seek to develop a genuine 30-year strategy.”

The full review can be downloaded from the government web site here.

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Northern fears for south Manchester services in December timetable

July 22, 2008

Northern Rail, together with GMPTE, are reported in the railway press as being so concerned about the impact of Virgin’s December timetable changes as to have written to the Office of Rail Regulation.

From December Virgin will be running 3 trains per hour to London instead of the current 2 which means they will take up more platform spaces at Piccadilly and – crucially – make the Stockport to Piccadilly section even busier.

Northern Rail’s mid-Cheshire services are among the victims of the changes – some services which run from Cheshire through to Piccadilly or Blackpool will terminate at Stockport with travellers having to change there to complete their journey into Manchester.

There are also though to be knock-on effects for services all over Manchester. Walkden trains will be slightly re-timed, but other routes will suffer loss of some cross-city services and, because fewer Northern trains will be able to cross the city, the timetable will require Northern to use more trains and crews.

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Barbara speaks up for Walkden

July 3, 2008

Barbara Keeley MP, a staunch supporter of FOWS, has raised the plight of Walkden station in Westminster while speaking in a debate on proposed congestion charge. Barbara drew attention to the fact that rail services from Walkden are over-crowded during the peak hours, and that very little of the £3bn investment the TIF fund will generate is ear-marked for projects that will benefit the residents of Walkden or Worsley.

See Barbara’s press release for more details.