Archive for January, 2011

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GMITA confirm Sunday service renewal

January 28, 2011

A press release on the GMITA website confirms what we reported last week – the Sunday service will be extended for a further trial year until May 2012.
Great news … let’s all make sure the passenger numbers keep growing to help secure the service permanently !

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Late night track closures explained

January 28, 2011

If you have ever wondered why there are fairly regular late-night bus replacements on the Walkden line (every 6 weeks or so), our friends at Northern Rail have shed some light on what’s happening.
The reason for the line closures is simply a regular maintenance cycle – routine repairs carried out overnight to avoid the greater disruption that would be caused by doing them at weekends.
Apparently there are more substantial track renewals planned for the line later on in the summer, but Northern Rail have asked Network Rail to do these overnight too, again to minimise disruption at weekends.
Our thanks to Mark Barker for the heads up !

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Bus replacement warning

January 26, 2011

The last train out from Victoria (the 23.20) is replaced by a bus each evening next week from Monday (31st Jan) until Thursday (3rd Feb).

The usual warnings about the bus being slower, lacking toilets, cycle space etc apply.

Only the last Wigan-bound train of each evening is affected by bus replacement – all other services are due to run normally.

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GMITA to fund Sunday trains for another year

January 22, 2011

Great news from yesterday’s GMITA meeting as the authority approved payment of the subsidy required to keep the Walkden line Sunday service running for another year 😀

The service – which is proving very popular with passengers – was launched as a one-year trial in May 2010 with a subsidy paid by GMITA to Northern Rail. Yesterday’s vote means the arrangement will be renewed in May to keep the trains running until May 2012.

This is fabulous news but the service is still on a trial footing – the longer term objective is to have it written into the minimum service level provision of the next franchise deal, making its running a legal obligation of whichever company wins the franchise.

We urge people to carry on making the most of the Sunday service and telling friends how good it is – keeping the passenger numbers growing is the best guarantee of making it permanent.

Our sincere thanks to Barbara Keeley MP who wrote to  GMITA voicing her support, GMITA members Cllrs Ian Macdonald and Keith Whitmore, and Walkden South councillor Iain Lindley who have all rallied support for the continued service.

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Walkden station improvements fall victim to government cuts

January 18, 2011

At a recent meeting of GMITA’s Capital Projects committee it was announced that because of government spending cuts the DfT are reviewing their funding of the Small Station Improvement scheme. This is the scheme that was supposed to be contributing  towards the £100,000 safety, security and passenger information improvements due to be installed at Walkden this spring. As a result GMITA have had to put the planned improvements on ice until such time as the DfT funds are confirmed … if they ever are.

Naturally this is a bitter blow for the hundreds of thousands of passengers passing through Walkden each year. In fact the news could have been even worse: Ashton Under Lyne and Marple’s improvement plans have been turned down entirely by DfT, whereas Walkden’s still has at least a theoretical chance of going ahead later in the year.

Meanwhile we are keeping fingers crossed for another GMITA meeting coming up this Friday when a recommendation to continue funding for Sunday services is to be debated. Feedback from contacts at GMPTE and Northern Rail suggest there is little doubt the service is proving popular and living up to forecast usage levels, so we are anxiously waiting to see if it will survive the cuts.

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Support the Friends of Hindley Station

January 15, 2011
Hindley Station Garden

Hindley Station's beautifully restored gardens

We’d like to draw your attention to the public Annual General Meeting of the Friends of Hindley Station which takes place on Tuesday 25th January at 7pm in St Johns Church, Bridge Street in Hindley.

Friends of Hindley Station and FOWS have worked together closely this year to organise co-ordinated events like the Sunday service launch gala, and we regularly communicate about issues which affect the Walkden line as a whole.

And of course, if you’ve travelled from Walkden to Hindley recently you can’t fail to have noticed the spectacular gardening improvements made by the indefatigable Preva Crossley and his fellow volunteers.

FOWS own Annual General Meeting is also coming up soon: the provisional date is March 2nd and we hope to confirm this shortly.

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GMPTE Local Transport Plan response

January 15, 2011

Some of FOWS’ work for the improvement of the station is long-term and behind-the-scenes. A good example of this are the responses we submit to transport planning consultations that potential impact the future development of the station. Although these typically affect long-term planning only, FOWS take every opportunity to ensure the best interests of the station’s ever-increasing users are taken into account.

In December we submitted a response (click here to download from our website) to GMPTE’s Local Transport Plan 3, a “5-year strategy for the management, maintenance, development and monitoring of the County’s transport system”.

Supporting our vision of “a series of affordable and sustainable enhancements to services and facilities, providing a more frequent service to a wider range of destinations, seven days a week”, the suggestions we make for Walkden include:

  • introducing services serving Piccadilly and Oxford Road, in order to provide access to the Universities, Manchester Royal Infirmary and other healthcare provision such as the Childrens’ Hospital and the various employment areas and entertainment venues in this part of Manchester;
  • direct service from Walkden to Manchester Airport;
  • Disabled access;
  • Longer staffing hours at Walkden to improve passengers’ perception of personal safety, along with safe and comfortable waiting conditions;
  • Provision of adequate car parking close to the station is desperately needed;
  • Improved connection times at Victoria especially evenings and Sundays, and on services to Rochdale, Ashton and Yorkshire;
  • Bus services which pass by the station need to be improved for better connectivity;
  • Better cycle facilities;
  • Better waiting areas both on the platform and within the station building need to be provided;
  • Lengthening of the platform to accommodate longer trains;
  • Raising of the platform level closer to the door level of trains;

In our submissions we try not to make unrealistic claims on what we recognise to be severely constrained transport budgets, but neither do we shirk from explaining the sometimes long list of areas for improvement, with constructive suggestions on the most cost-effective solutions available.

If your key issues aren’t represented in our response, please let us know – by email (friends@walkdenstation.org.uk) or attending out public AGM on March 2nd (more details of the time and venue to be confirmed nearer the date). We are an open-minded group and our objective is to make sure the voices of all station users are heard 🙂