Archive for August, 2012


Walkden’s blue lagoon is la-gone

August 18, 2012

The large puddle that formed on the platform every time it rained should now be a thing of the past as engineers have extended the drainage culvert  to run the full length of the new platform section.

It looks like engineers have been measuring up to replace the rotten steps in the entrance too, so hopefully they’ll be fixed and offer a firmer footing soon.


First wins West Coast franchise from Virgin

August 18, 2012

The Department of Transport emerged from the secretive franchise awarding process this week with the news that First Group have outbid Virgin for the right to run the west coast service between Manchester, London and Glasgow from this December until 2026.

There’s a fair bit of trepidation about the kind of service First will provide – they’re judged to have done a decent job on the Transpennine franchise but there have been  nightmare stories of overcrowding on their other franchises, including Great Western which they  walked away from for the last 3 years of the francise.

What is for certain is that both companies spent a vast amount of money bidding for the franchise (Virgin alone spent £14m) – money that many  passengers would rather had been spent on improving services.

It’s also clear that millions more will be spent on re-branding the route, from repainting the trains and stations, giving staff new uniforms, down to redesigning all the publicity and brochures.

No wonder railway costs are so high in the UK …


Fares set to rocket … again

August 18, 2012

More bad fares news for passengers this week as July’s higher than expected inflation figure means rail fares are set for another hair-raising, inflation-busting rise in January.

Government policy is to raise fares by 3% above the rate of inflation in the preceding July – bad enough at any time but exacerbated when the inflation rate jumps up at just the wrong time.

As a result average fare rises will be a shocking 6.2%, but the reality for most passengers will be even worse as rail companies are allowed to raise some fares at even higher rates provided they balance them against lower increases elsewhere. The experience of the past few years has been that the most popular fares from Walkden get hit by above average rises, so passengers should brace themselves for increases of up to 10% on the most popular tickets.

Watch out for protest campaigns in the autumn as pressure groups try to persuade the Chancellor to relent from the full extent of these rises. We’re unlikely to see fares frozen or even restricted to the rate of inflation, but it may just be possible that the adverse publicity – especially in the Tory heartland of the south-east commuter belt – will force a small climb down.


Business opportunity for local garden centre or builders merchant

August 11, 2012

FOWS have been awarded a council grant to install more planters on the platform at Walkden.
It’s great news – but the only problem is how to get 2000 litres of ballast, and 5000 litres of compost delivered on to the platform when the only access is up a flight of 50 steps.
If anyone knows a local garden centre or builders merchant etc who might be able to help with this, please get in touch with us at