Archive for April, 2010


April station report … and things are looking good !

April 17, 2010

Lots of smiley faces on this month’s station condition report

Our Northern Rail Station Manager Pam Williams is doing a great job of getting issues addressed before the station gala: in April alone she’s had the track-side and areas outside the station entrance litter picked, the damaged platform edge stones replaced, the pigeon mess cleaned, and arranged for ISS to clean the mess weekly until netting can be installed.

Pam’s also working toward getting netting fixed in the canopy. She’s also arranging a “deep clean” and painting of the platform benches in time for the gala.

As if that’s not enough, she just came up with £45 for some new plants too !

So it’s a big “thank you” from FOWS to Pam for her enthusiastic, personal support for improving the station.


More guests and stalls for the Walkden Station gala

April 17, 2010

FOWS are delighted to announce Cllr Keith Whitmore, the Chair of Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority will be a guest at the Sunday service launch gala. The Sunday service has only been made possible by subsidy from GMITA and Cllr Whitmore has been a keen and influential backer of the proposal.

We are also delighted to announce local storage firm Ready Steady Store will be appearing at the gala. Ready Steady Store have a large facility just off the East Lancs at Moorside and are keen supporters of both community sports and social groups, and environmental issues.

For full details of the Gala check out our special Gala Information Page.


Station set for some TLC from ISS

April 14, 2010

A huge thank you to station manager Pam Williams who has arranged for some great improvements to the station with Northern Rail’s cleaning contractors ISS.

Pam is currently arranging for pigeon netting to be installed in the platform canopy, but in the meantime ISS will treat the mess on the platform every week.

Pam has also asked ISS to:
1) jet-clean the station stairs and entrance hall
2) deep-clean the station
3) repaint the seats

Our sincere thanks to Pam for pulling out all the stops to get the station looking as good as possible for our gala on May 23rd.


No relief in sight for region’s overcrowded trains

April 11, 2010

Bad news for local rail users as more details of the Department for Transport’s watered-down plans to ease over-crowding in Manchester have emerged.

After promising 182 extra carriages to Northern Rail and 42 for TransPennine Express less than 2 years ago, the reality is turning out to be a massive let-down.

In a year’s time – May 2011 – Northern Rail will finally receive 16 second-hand carriages from London Midland trains, and 4 Pacer sets will return from load to First Great Western. However the large class 180 trains currently used on Northern’s Victoria to Blackpool services will disappear back to East Coast trains.

Further announcements are possible throughout the year ahead but it seems clear there is no prospect of noticeable respite to the region’s severely overcrowded trains for years ahead.

In some parts of the country train operators (Northern included) have conjured up extra capacity by using ex-BR carriages and locomotives (actually quite a popular arrangement with passengers) but so far there has been no sign of Northern intending to use an option like this in our area.


DalesRail is back !

April 11, 2010

The brilliant DalesRail scheme run by Northern Rail and Lancshire County Council is back for this summer, running Sunday trains from Lancashire up the Settle and Carlisle railway.

There are only 1 or 2 trains per day, but they’re timed to offer a good day out on this awesome railway line with time to walk or dine at one of the many attractive destinations served.

See the DalesRail website for timetable and fare information – and please take care to note the running dates of each train as they all run on specific date ranges only.

Our personal tip – if you have a car – is to zip up the M61 to Bamber Bridge where there’s a free station car park and the trains call on their way up to the most famous scenic railway in Britain.


Bus replacements on late train next week

April 6, 2010

Next Monday to Thursday (12th to 15th April) 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. As usual our advice is to avoid it if you can.


ORR figures show Walkden passenger numbers up 41% in one year

April 4, 2010

The Office of Rail Regulation have recently published their station usage figures for 2008/09.

The figures, based on ticket sales, are notorious for under-estimating actual usage due to factors like rover tickets which don’t indicate which stations have been used, and of course the old curse of ticketless travel.

Still the figures show an amazing growth of 41% from 162,130 passengers departing from or arriving at the station in 2007/08, and 228,556 in 2008/09.

The figures can be downloaded from the ORR website here.


Walkden station featured in Worsley Civic Trust newsletter

April 3, 2010

The following article about the station’s history appears in the current edition of Worsley Civic Trust’s newsletter.

The newsletter is essential reading for anyone with an interest in the heritage and culture of Worsley and its neighbouring districts. See the Worsley Civic Trust’s website for details of the group and membership.


132 years after they first ran, Sunday trains return to Walkden station this summer.

The Lancashire & Yorkshire (L&Y) Railway opened Walkden High Level station in 1888, the second station to serve the growing town after the rival LNWR opened Low Level station on Brindley Street 13 years earlier. The L&Y were famously modern – and opportunist – in their outlook, and surprised the traditional LNWR with Sunday trains.

The L&Y’s Sunday service comprised trains to Manchester Victoria at 9.52, 15.17, 17.52, 19.24 and 21.02, and trains to Atherton at 9.00, 14.25, 17.05, 18.40, 20.00, 22.45. Perhaps the lengthy gaps between 10am and 2.30pm reflected the sanctity of Sunday morning church services in the 1880’s. The single fare to Manchester was 1/1 (1st class), 6d (2nd), and 3½d (3rd).

The picturesque LNWR station closed in 1954, bequeathing Worsley a cycle path to Eccles and Bolton. The L&Y station, re-named simply Walkden when the distinction was no longer necessary, thankfully escaped the Beeching axe. Amazingly British Railways’ 1962-63 timetable shows exactly the same number of Sunday trains (11) running as in 1888 – and the morning hiatus remained.

Sometime after 1962 Sunday services were withdrawn and the only trains along the tracks on “the seventh day” were occasional diversions from other routes.

The tide is set to turn again on May 23rd when Northern Rail introduce Sunday trains from Walkden to Wigan and Manchester, 132 years after the L&Y’s ground-breaking debut.

Railway re-openings are rare and FOWS are determined the occasion will be celebrated with greater gusto than the station’s opening in 1888. Then the Farnworth Observer of July 7th remarked “decorations of any shape in honour of the event were conspicuous by their absence”.

The Friends of Walkden Station have played an important part in restoring Sunday services, spear-heading a campaign that persuaded Northern Rail and GMITA of the line’s importance to local people.

However, there is an important caveat to this success story – the service currently has funding for one year only so it’s vitally important that local people support it.


Strike off … for now

April 2, 2010

As you have probably already heard next week’s rail strike has been called off after legal action taken by Network Rail against the RMT union. The RMT have however said they intend to re-ballot their members so the prospect of the strike being re-scheduled for a later date still hangs over rail users.