Archive for August, 2011

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Northern Rail – new online ticket service

August 25, 2011

Northern Rail have added an online ticket sale service to their website at www.northernrail.org

And unlike some of the competing websites, there’s no booking fee or additional charges on the Northern site.

To get started, (slightly confusingly) you should not click on the “Buy your ticket online” link, but fill in the details of the journey you want to make on the panel on the right, and press “Buy tickets” to see what times and fares are available.

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TransPennine industrial action OFF

August 25, 2011

Good news for anyone planning to travel by TransPennine Express services tomorrow – the second day of planned industrial action by drivers has been called off.

TPE are now hoping to run a full normal service tomorrow.

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Date change for next FOWS meeting

August 25, 2011

Just a reminder to FOWS members that our next meeting will be held on Wednesday September 21st.

FOWS meetings are held every two months in the Legion Club on Wilfred Road. We start at 7.15pm and we welcome visitors who have an interest in improving the station.

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Help stop Cable Theft disruption – Sign the petition!

August 24, 2011

Railway cable theft is a huge problem and causes massive disruption to passengers – and sadly it’s been a particular problem in the great cities of the north.

Here is a link to an e-petition asking Parliament to consider introducing legislation aimed at making cash transactions at scrap metal dealers illegal. This would help enormously in the battle against cable and metal theft as it would ensure both a paper and electronic trail on all transactions. The petition requires a minimum of 10,000 signatures before it will be considered by Parliament.

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Reduced timetable on TransPennine this Weds and Fri

August 23, 2011

TransPennine Express are running a much reduced timetable on their routes to Leeds, Sheffield and Edinburgh tomorrow (Weds 24th) and Fri (26th) due to industrial action by the RMT.

If you’re planning to travel beyond Manchester on either day, the TransPennine Express website has full details of the replacement service the company intends to run.

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New track laid at Walkden – and the level slightly lowered ?

August 14, 2011

New track ... same old trains at Walkden

New track has been laid through Walkden station in the Wigan direction this week as can be seen from the fresh ballast beneath the rails.

The new rails are “continuous weld” which the track is made up of much, much longer pieces of rail with far fewer, and smoother, joints between them. The result is a smoother ride and less wear & tear on the trains and rails.

We also have a suspicion the running height of the rails has been very slightly reduced, making for a smaller step up between the platform and trains. We suggested to Network Rail last year that the track-relaying would be a good time to reduce the track height, and although we don’t get much information back from Network Rail it does seem that the suggestion may have been taken on board.

Let us know what you think … is the stepping distance slightly better now ?

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22 extra carriages for Northern – but it’s hand-me-downs again

August 14, 2011

A Department For Transport press release this week trumpeted “8,800 extra spaces for busy trains on key routes“, and confirmed that Northern will receive 22 carriages no longer required by First Great Western and London Midland in December this year.

Any measures to tackle the chronic over-crowding on Northern services, particularly in Manchester and Leeds, has to be welcomed, no matter how small – but it has to be said the improvement offered here is indeed pretty small.

The 22 carriages will be hand-me-downs made available by the brand new fleet of class 172 trains currently being delivered to London Midland. As a result Northern will receive 8 class 150 carriages and 14 more of the widely-unpopular class 142 Pacers.

This deal continues the trend for Northern to be saddled with some of the oldest trains in the country while southern and Scottish franchises enjoy much more modern fleets. Most of Northern’s trains are fast approaching their designed life span of around 30 years, and it is greatly to the credit of Northern’s engineering teams that their reliability has actually improved as Northern have patched up old trains that were only built to cheap specifications in the first place.

Meanwhile it seems the promise to deliver 180 new carriages to Northern will never be fulfilled.

Meanwhile the Transport Minister Norman Baker admitted that between 2005 and 2011 the DfT had an employee responsible for procurement of trains who received a salary greater than the Prime Minister’s. Go figure.

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TfGM outline rail priorities for 2014 – 2019

August 14, 2011

 Transport for Greater Manchester have approved a set of 5 top priorities for submission into the government’s planning for the region in the 5 years from 2014. These are:

  • provision of sufficient rolling stock and lengthening of platforms to accommodate it
  • delivery of the Northern Hub project
  • further electrification of the region’s routes
  • preparation for the arrival of HS2 (the high speed route from London and Birmingham)
  • creation of a national “Small Projects Fund” to support improvements to stations and infrastructure.

Although not top of the list for electrification, the TfGM committee did request that the Walkden line is given consideration as an “in fill” project (in a few years time it will be the only passenger route in NW Manchester that is not electrified).

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Rail works North West round-up

August 14, 2011

Network Rail have completed the rebuild of 3 bridges between Eccles and Patricroft which had to be raised to allow overhead electric wires to be strung. Manchester to Newton-Le-Willows via Eccles and Patricroft is expected to open to electric trains by December 2013, with running through to Liverpool a year later.

Meanwhile construction work continues on the new station at Buckshaw Parkway near Euxton (on the Bolton-Preston line) with a footbridge lifted into place on July 10. The platforms are in place and surfacing work is on-going in preparation for the scheduled opening in the autumn.

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Fair Fares Now – sign the petition to stop 28% fare rises over the next 3 years

August 14, 2011

The Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) have launched a petition calling on the government to limit the fare rises that are expected – according to the current laws – to rise by an average of 28% over the next 3 years. This frightening figure results from the so-called “RPI + 3%” formula, which would allow an 8% rise while inflation remains around the 5% mark.

In fact the BCT warn some tickets could rise by as much as 40% because the formula does not apply to individual fares, but rather an average of all fares over a specified period. This allows canny operators to make above average rises on some popular fares and reserve their below-average prices for less used ticket types.

In a colourful illustration of how expensive train travel has become, the CBT claim the running costs for the Transport Secretary’s Jaguar XL Saloon would equate to £2,277 per year for his 35-mile commute from home to Parliament, whereas the season ticket for the same journey by train currently costs almost a third more (£3,268).

The CBT argue rail travel should be prompted to tempt people out of their cars, to limit the environmental and social damage of a congested road network.

To sign the CBT’s Fair Fares Now petition, see the CBT website.