Archive for November, 2010

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Rail in the news … higher fares but hope for more trains (at some point in the next 9 years) …

November 25, 2010

Trains have been in the news this week with two big national stories.

Firstly the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) announced that the average fare rise in January will be 6.2%. As this is an average we can expect some fares to go up more or less than this amount and we will have to wait and see what Northern announce for tickets from  Walkden. Some analysts believe the 6.2% average could mask individual fare rises of over 10%, so we will have a somewhat nervous wait to learn our fate.

The second big announcement came from Transport Secretary Philip Hammond this morning who said the government plans to order 2,100 new  carriages for the network. After the disappointment of the infamous  180 new carriages for the north-west that never materialised, it’s unlikely anyone will be getting too excited at the prospect of ample space on board our trains yet. The government has yet to decide when and where many of the new carriages will be used, but they have said the plan will take until 2019 before all the new carriages are in service.

Looks like the over-crowding will be with us for some time to come 😦

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Santa goes to Glossop station

November 21, 2010

Our good friends at Glossop station – winners of last year’s Station Adoption Group of the Year award – are organising a Christmas Santa Special for Saturday 4th December. It’s a great excuse to visit the attractive Derbyshire town nesting under the Peak District moors, for some Christmas shopping somewhere different !

The Santa Event at the station runs from 11am to 1pm, with Santa arriving on the 11.39 train. He will stay for about an hour giving gifts to the children present.

The Christmas tree lights switch on will be by PETE MYERS, Head of Service Quality at Northern Rail.

For entertainment there is talented young magician Jake Barlow, Hollingworth Junior Brass Band, Glossop Model Railway Club, two local comic pantomime characters from Dick Whittington and a make a decoration for the tree stand.

Refreshments will be available – featuring the Friends of Glossop Station’s famous soups!

Weekend fares to Glossop are ridiculously cheap … just £3.30 off-peak adult return.

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Walkden prioritised for disabled access improvements

November 18, 2010

Walkden station moved a step closer to the important goal of full disabled accessibility when a meeting of GMITA’s Policy and Resources Committee placed it 4th highest priority in its development plans. The prioritisation – based on the station’s ever-increasing “footfall” – places Walkden ahead of dozens of stations across the Greater Manchester area.

Unfortunately this doesn’t provide a guaranteed delivery date as the scheme is dependent on continued DfT funding – something that cannot be taken for granted in this age of government cuts.

For full details see the  GMITA’s Policy and Resources Committee meeting minutes from 19th November.

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The counting continues …

November 18, 2010

You may have noticed more counting taking place at the station this week as GMPTE conducted their annual passenger count on Wednesday morning.

GMPTE publish their results on the GMTU website once the figures from around the region have been collated, and after the difficulties with our FOWS count last week it will be very interesting to see the numbers that GMPTE found on a much more typical weekday morning.

Meanwhile, the full results from the FOWS 2010 count are now available on our website.

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Walkden Station is on Facebook !

November 16, 2010

Walkden station now has a Facebook page.

The address isn’t very user friendly but you can click through from here and bookmark it

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Friends-of-Walkden-Station/139980606053012

Check it out and get involved … let us know what you think !

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Conditions count against us

November 14, 2010

FOWS performed our annual passenger count on Thursday morning but the weather conditions – and an assault on the platform – made it our most difficult count yet.

FOWS have been counting passengers on and off morning trains the second Thursday in November since 2007, during which time we have recorded proof of passenger numbers climbing over 25% – in 2008 alone the rise was 18%. Full details of previous counts can be seen on our website.

This year’s count got off to a bad start after a night of wet and wild weather left soggy leaves all over the tracks. When the first train of the day tip-toed into Walkden at 6.37 it was 13 minutes late but the delays were about to get much worse than that. In fact almost every train until 10am was 20-30 minutes late, and twodid  not even stop at all.

With the service pattern so disrupted year-on-year comparisons of train numbers became meaningless as passengers gave up waiting or ended up on completely different trains to the ones they intended to take.

Between 0750 and 0830 there were no trains to Manchester and the platform was unsurprisingly heaving with waiting passengers – far too many for our lone volunteer to count.

Matters took a turn for the worse when two drunks arrived at the station and started being abusive to staff and passengers. When one of them hit a passenger our volunteer abandoned counting to go to the man’s aid and clear the drunks from the station (after calling British Transport Police). We hope CCTV pictures will lead to a successful prosecution of the attacker.

Drawing detailed conclusions from the count is impossible under the circumstances. We can say that off peak numbers – which we were able to collect accurately – were down on last year, but it is hardly surprising if there are less leisure travellers on a foul day when the trains are badly disrupted.

Our total number of passengers is up on last year – 595 instead of 524 – but this year’s total includes very rough estimates for two of the most extremely over-crowded trains. However, even if our estimates for those two trains are reduced by 25% we still find a slight increase on last year’s total.

It appears the only things that can be concluded with a fair degree of certainty are:

  • passenger numbers appear to have grown again this year
  • falling leaves can cause serious disruption
  • abusive drunks are a curse !
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Over-crowding on a train with empty carriages

November 14, 2010

Late-night travellers were treated to cattle-class travel last night as the 2320 from a very busy Manchester Victoria operated as a 4-carriage train, with only2 carriages open to the public.

As regular travellers will know 4-carriage trains are permitted to stop at Walkden but due to the short platform it’s at the discretion of the train crew and therefore somewhat unpredictable.

The situation was exacerbated last night by the larger of the two trains being the one selected for closure – so all the passengers not only had to cram into 2 carriages but the smallest 2 carriages out of the 4.

FOWS have long campaigned for the platforms at Walkden to be lengthened so 4-carriage trains can be regularly and reliably scheduled to stop here – the public demand is clearly there for it. We have offered to help with platform clearance and maintenance of the additional 10 meters or so that are required, but there is still no sign of progress on this from the railways.

It’s perhaps understandable if the crew of a late night train are nervous of the possible legal consequences of using 4-carriages – but this issue has been a problem for years now and needs to be sorted out by Northern Rail, Network Rail, and GMPTE.