Archive for February, 2010

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Enjoy your clean(-ish) shelter

February 27, 2010

The disgraceful condition of the platform shelter has been a common grievance amongst Walkden station’s users, but today FOWS have given the filthy thing a thorough clean. It’s not perfect, but it’s better and at least the windows aren’t smeared with chips and worse any more !

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Beware – bus replacements ahead

February 27, 2010

Next Monday to Thursday (1st to 4th March) the last train from Victoria to Walkden (departing Victoria at 2320) will be operated by replacement bus.

All services other than the last one from Victoria will be operating by train as usual.

Bus replacements take longer, have no toilets, and won’t carry prams, bikes, or non-folding wheelchairs. Our advice is to avoid it if you can.

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GMITA claim progress in DfT talks for more trains

February 27, 2010

Local politicians returned from Whitehall this week claiming some progress in their battle to get the Department for Transport to honour its promises for more trains in the north.

Exact timescales and figures were vague but GMITA Leader Keith Whitmore insisted “we are confident that we are going to see additional rolling stock coming to Greater Manchester this year“.

Worsley councillor and GMITA Vice-Chair Cllr Ian Macdonald acknowledged the plight of local rail users saying “we understand that commuters’ patience is wearing thin whilst this dialogue continues. We would like to give passengers an absolute assurance that we will continue to put pressure on government to end the misery of their daily journeys.”

Meanwhile the DfT response was depressingly and familiarly non-committal: “We are currently involved in detailed commercial negotiations to deliver additional trains for the busiest services in the north of England. We hope to make an announcement about this in due course

FOWS advice passengers affected by the severe over-crowding on our trains to continue to submit complaints to Northern Rail. We believe that the more complaints received the greater Northern Rail’s motivation to find a solution to the problem.

Northern Rail Customer Relations can be contacted by:

  • phone: 0845 000 0125
  • email: customer.relations@northernrail.org
  • post: Northern Rail Customer Relations, FREEPOST RLSL-ABEC-BGUU, Northern Rail Limited, Leeds, LS1 4DY
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    More cable theft misery for commuters

    February 27, 2010

    Cable thieves caused misery for commuters again on Friday morning when trains were left stranded in Northern Rail’s Newton Heath depot by the theft of signalling cable from the depot area.

    Many morning rush-hour services were cancalled and others over-crowded as a result.

    On the 0737 from Walkden I counted over 180 passengers disembarking at Salford Central and Victoria – an incredible number for a 2-carriage Pacer train.

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    Come to the FOWS AGM !

    February 24, 2010

    Our Annual General Meeting will be held next Wednesday (3rd March) starting 7.30pm in the Walkden Legion Club (Wilfred Road, Walkden M28 3AJ). We like to encourage all users of the station to attend to get the widest range of views possible – you do not need to be an FOWS member to be welcomed.

    The AGM is our opportunity to meet the passengers who use Walkden station, give an update on what FOWS has been able to achieve (or not) in the past year, and – with your help – set priorities for our campaigns in the year ahead, trying to match the priorities of the station’s users.

    We also have a Q&A session where you can put any question to FOWS or our special guests representing Northern Rail, GMPTE, and British Transport Police.

    All in all it’s an evening not to be missed for anyone with an interest in how the services and facilities at Walkden can be improved !

    Here’s the full agenda below (or download it as a PDF from our website):
    1 Chair’s Welcome & Introductions
    2 Chair’s Keynote
    3 Secretary’s Review of the Year
    4 Treasurer’s Report
    5 Webmaster’s Report
    6 Gardening Projects Report
    7 Election of Officers: Chair/Secretary/Treasurer.
    8 Planning for Sunday Service Launch Gala (May 23rd)
    9 Planning for 2010 – Setting Objectives and Priorities
    10 Audience Q&A session

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    GM transport bosses head for showdown with DfT

    February 24, 2010

    You may have seen on the local news that leaders of GMITA (including Worsley councillor Ian Macdonald) and various local MPs have been to London today to meet Lord Adonis, the Secretary of State for Transport.

    Their objectives for the meeting are quite clear – to get the DfT to honour their own pledge to provide more carriages for the grossly over-crowded trains in our region.

    You may recall a government announcement last year that over one thousand new carriages would be added to the railway in the next few years, with 182 (mainly second-hand ones) destined for Northern Rail and 42 for Trans-Pennine Express. After a few months of stalling the DfT started leaking revised lower totals, and avoiding any commitment to a published schedule for delivery. The latest rumours were that Northern’s allocation would be reduced by over half (still no timetable for receiving these either), and that TPE had heard nothing.

    Anyone boarding the 7.38 this morning – and no doubt the equally over-crowded services which followed it – must be wishing our local representatives luck, and wondering how a modern country can make such a mess of the simple task of building trains that have been clearly and urgently needed for years !

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    Sunday Service details – provisional timetable

    February 24, 2010

    FOWS have learnt that the provisional timetable for Sunday services begining on May 23rd consist of 9 trains a day in each direction, running back and forth between Wigan and Victoria.

    Although the details are unconfirmed and could yet change, we understand trains to Manchester will depart from Walkden at 0937 (arr. Victoria 0958) and then at 37 minutes past each hour until 1737.

    In the other direction the provisional timetable has the first Wigan bound train leaving Walkden at 1029 and departures hourly at 29 minutes past each hour until 1829.

    We will post the confirmed details as soon as we learn if/when this timetable is confirmed.

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    Network Rail’s “Northern Hub” plans published

    February 17, 2010

    As you may have seen on the local news, Network Rail this week published its proposals for major investment to improve the frequency, speed and connectivity of rail services around Manchester and the north of England.

    The plans can be downloaded from their Press Room website and run to 70+ pages. Although the plans understandably focus primarily on the network bottlenecks in the centre of Manchester, they also have implications for the kinds of services that can be run on routes like ours in future.

    FOWS will be analysing the report in more detail over the days ahead but already we are intrigued to see the possibility of more trains along the Atherton line and more through services to destinations such as Bradford being touted.

    At first reading it appears Network Rail favour an option that centres around improvement and enlargement of Victoria station, with TransPennine services from Leeds being re-routed there. The report goes on to suggest the intriguing prospect of a city centre loop with trains running every 15 minutes from Victoria to Salford Central then round a new piece of track at Ordsall to Oxford Road and Piccadilly – a truly radical change to Manchester’s rail services if it happens !

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    FOWS make the case for Walkden at the Sub-Regional Transport Seminar

    February 15, 2010

    FOWS Chairman Peter Aust recently attended a seminar on behalf of FOWS, and has given us this report on the occasion …

    Hello FOWS Bloggers

    Sorry I’m late posting this but thought I would tell you what a successful morning I had at Manchester Town Hall on Monday 18th January last when I attended the Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority Sub-Regional Seminar.

    I managed to do some lobbying on behalf of Walkden station during the coffee registration time before the seminar started and was fortunate to be able to raise three questions at different times regarding where Walkden station stands with regard to the overall improvements that are planned for the future.

    I was told by one of the panel Michael Renshaw who is the Interim Bus and Transport Rail Director for GMPTE that I would receive a written reply in this regard and I will of course be following this up rigorously on your behalf.

    Lastly, I was pleasantly surprised at the level of support I received from the floor when I raised a question about how early the last train was scheduled on the new Sunday service.

    Best regards
    Peter Aust Chairman FOWS

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    Mixed results for Northern Rail in national survey

    February 14, 2010

    The latest national survey by Passenger Focus contains mixed news for Northern Rail.

    Since last year the main movements in Northern Rail’s results have been:

    • Provision of information about train times/platforms – improved 5%
    • Facilities for car parking – improved 5%
    • Upkeep and repair of the train – improved 3%
    • The provision of information during the journey – improved 5%
    • The toilet facilities – improved 6%
    • The cleanliness of the outside (of trains) – improved 4%

    And on the down side …

    • The attitudes and helpfulness of the staff – down by 3%
    • The value for money for the price of your ticket – down by 3%
    • Sufficient room for all passengers to sit/stand – down by 2%

    Overall passenger satisfaction for Northern Rail is 82% compared to an average of 87% for regional operators and 83% across all train companies.