Archive for December, 2009

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Beware changes to train times over the Christmas period

December 24, 2009

Just a late reminder that train services are dramatically cut back over the next few days. The last train from Victoria to Walkden today leaves at just 8.10pm … 3 hours earlier than usual.

There are no trains on Christmas Day or Boxing Day, but services at Walkden resume on Monday the 28th.

As always, be sure to check your journey times on the National Rail Planner website which has full details of the modified timetable.

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Merry Christmas from FOWS

December 24, 2009

A Very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to our readers from FOWS.

We’re very, very excited about 2010 with the Sunday service starting in May and – fingers crossed – station improvements from GMITA towards the end of the year. Let’s hope it lives up to expectations !

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Press coverage – and some service details – of Walkden’s Sunday trains

December 23, 2009

Our exciting news about the Sunday service trial is featured on a few regional news websites including Wigan Council’s news page, and Salford Online.

The Wigan article also carries the first details of the proposed trial service, saying it “would run hourly during the day on Sundays, with the last train departing from Manchester shortly after 6pm.”

Bring on May the 9th when the service should start !

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Tannoy rocks !

December 21, 2009

It’s been a little while coming (two and a half years to be precise) but the tannoy is now installed and working at Walkden station.

This is sure to be a big help on occasions when trains are delayed or other service news needs to be broadcast to passengers – previously staff have been unable to pass news on to passengers on the platform as they’ve had to stay in the Booking Office to deal with customers there.

Our thanks to GMPTE’s Steve Magner for arranging the funding and installation of the tannoy.

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Saturday overcrowding strikes Walkden again

December 21, 2009

Dozens of would-be passengers were again unable to board trains from Walkden this Saturday morning due to over-crowding.

It’s a rotten experience for anybody whose travel plans are thwarted, and the railway will have to work hard to persuade some of the unfortunate travellers to return. It’s ironic that passengers are called “customers” by the privatised railway companies yet the trains provided for them at Walkden are more inadequate than ever !

Obviously there is a large seasonal element to the current over-crowding issues with many more shoppers and revellers wanting to take the train into town. However railway planners should take note that concerts at the MEN and other events in Manchester mean over-crowding is not just a rush-hour phenomenon.

The extra carriages promised to Northern Rail are desperately needed in the Greater Manchester area and can’t come soon enough !

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Sunday service triumph !!

December 19, 2009

Fantastic news for Walkden station users … GMITA have reached an agreement with Northern Rail to launch a Sunday service from Walkden station from next May.

FOWS understand the service will be subsidised by GMITA on a trial basis for one year, after which time they will review whether it provides value for money for their outlay.

FOWS have campaigned for Sunday services since our inception in 2007 and are delighted with this break-through. Knowing how busy the line is Monday to Saturday, and how busy other lines around Manchester are on Sundays, we’re sure the service will be enthusiastically welcomed by local people and confident the service will be very popular.

Details of the trial service timetable are not yet known.

In the complicated way that the railway is currently structured, introducing change of any sort is difficult because of the number of organisations involved. A lot of people from Northern Rail, Network Rail, and the local councils have worked hard to get this trial off the ground, and FOWS wish to pay special thanks to Barbara Keeley MP, Councillor Ian Macdonald and Councillor Iain Lindley who have all been unstinting in their support for our campaign. We would also like to thank the members of GMITA who have worked towards, and now voted to subsidise, this boost to public transport provision in our area.

More details of the new service will be published here as we learn them, but for now let’s celebrate !!

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Changes signalled at the top of Northern Rail

December 16, 2009

The Times today carries a report that Heidi Mottram, the Managing Director of Northern Rail, will be leaving the company to take charge of Northumberland Water.

Heidi has done a fantastic job at Northern and will be greatly missed. Taking charge of a franchise widely held to be a basket case – one of the least glamourous in the whole country and saddled with the worst trains – her personal vision and enthusiasm has injected the company with regional pride and a reputation for innovation.

FOWS had the pleasure of meeting Heidi at a number of community rail events (indeed her commitment to placing the railway at the heart of the wider community is one of her most celebrated achievements). Heidi’s openness and down-to-earth attitude have won many admirers within and outside of Northern Rail.

Heidi’s success at Northern had prompted rumours that she could be “head-hunted” by one of the main-line rail franchises, but her move outside the rail industry will be a surprise to many.

We wish Heidi well in her next venture and hope Northern Rail can find a replacement who can live up to her example.