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Archive for March, 2009
This week we had the pleasure of attending the AGM of our colleagues at the Friends Of Eccles Station (FRECCLES … of course !) .
FRECCLES are a hard-working and well-organised group who have done a spectacular job of transforming a tipping ground into sizeable station gardens, and are campaigning to promote the station as an interchange for bus, tram and change serving the Trafford Centre, the Quays, and the BBC’s new MediaCity development.
FRECCLES have organised themselves into sub-groups to tackle specific issues like improving connection options, station heritage, a website, and of course the gardening.
FRECCLES were established a couple of years before FOWS and gave us a lot of advise and support when we were still finding our feet. We salute their achievements and count ourselves lucky to have made good friends of the Friends !
The audience at last week’s FOWS Annual General Meeting heard speakers from GMPTE, GMPTA and Northern Rail give updates on their organisations efforts towards improving Walkden station.
The meeting opened with reports from FOWS Chair Peter Aust and Secretary Neil Stapleton which reflected on a busy and productive year for the group. However, the reports concluded that matching levels of commitment and improvements have not been seen from either station owners or operators, a failure that leaves the station with the same infrastructure problems as noted last year, and whose contrast with FOWS’ efforts is causing increasing frustration within the group.
A statement from local MP Barbara Keeley catalogued the considerable effort she has put into championing the station’s cause this year, including a series of meetings and communications with Heidi Mottram of Northern Rail and mentioning the station’s dire facilities in Parliament debates.
Steve Magner and Cllr Ian Macdonald from GMPTE and GMPTA respectively acknowledged the group’s frustration and advised more patience will be required. Whilst confident that improvements will be made to the station over the next few years, they could not commit to timescales or explain the criteria that has been used to exclude Walkden from the first batch of stations to receive GMPTA investment.
Chris Ingham of Northern Rail reported on the company’s improved reliability figures achieved during the last monitoring period but said Network Rail have still not reported back to Northern about the costs of re-opening the full length of platform, meaning there has been no tangible progress on this issue for 12 months.
Sunday services have been the topic of discussions between GMPTE and Northern Rail, but the estimated costs provided by Northern Rail to start the service in November are currently beyond GMPTE’s reach. Negotiations are continuing to explore ways of reducing the cost of the service.
Memberships for 2009 were renewed (it’s just £1 a year for anyone interested !) and several new members were welcomed to the group.
We received a request from the Trans-Wilts Save The Train campaign who are campaigning to restore service levels on the Salisbury-Swindon route after they’ve been slashed to just 2 a day in each direction by First Great Western.
If you’d like to lend your support to the campaign, please take a moment to sign their online pledge.
Walkden’s historic entrance today received a deep spring clean thanks to local pressure-cleaning specialists Jet Clean.
Working for over 5 hours the team jet washed the bricks and stonework around the doorway, the floor of the porch, the station’s street signs, and the first three steps of the lower stairway.
The difference is dramatic – the original cream and pink colours of the ornamental bricks and sandstone are shining through and the floor of the porch looks brand new. The first three steps and the lower three grey sandstone blocks to the right of the entrance clearly show the extent of the improvement when compared to their neighbours.
The work was carried out with full regard to the Health and Safety regulations that surround any kind of work at a railway station, with a lookout posted on the pavement to ensure passers-by were not inconvenienced.
Tony Williams of Jet Clean said “I live locally and when the community asked for some help I wanted to do what I could”. FOWS are extremely grateful to Jet Clean for performing this work free of charge.
FOWS also wish to thank Bill Robison and Chris Ingham of Northern Rail for their help in securing Network Rail’s permission for the clean up to go ahead.
The FOWS website (www.walkdenstation.org.uk) has been given a make-over with a new look, lots of new content, and better support for disabled or visually-impaired web users.
A few pages are still in progress, and more will be added in the months to come.