FOWS call for matching commitment from Northern/GMPTE at Annual General Meeting

March 14, 2009

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.

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