After 12 years of operating our local train services Northern Rail passed into history on Friday. Despite being contracted to maintain a “standstill” (no growth) service by the government Northern actually presided over an unprecedented growth in rail travel and proved inventive at turning new tricks from exhausted trains and budgets.
At Walkden some of the good things we will remember Northern Rail for include:
- re-introduction of Sunday services for the first time since the 1970’s
- lengthening the platform to accommodate longer trains
- installing CCTV to improve safety and massively reduce anti-social behaviour at the station
- installing electronic passenger information displays
- netting the station canopy and bridges outside to solve the problem of pigeon mess
Northern Rail gave generous financial and support to FoWS and we remember station managers Pam Williams and Chris Ingham with particular fondness.
Northern Rail’s legacy is slightly tarnished by the slow response to the damaged roof that has caused so much water ingress and decay, and this is one area we will be looking for Arriva to quickly remedy.
Arriva Rail North, operating under the brand name “Northern”, will now operate the franchise covering most local trains in the north of England until 2025.
As previously reported Arriva made some very significant commitments to improve stations and trains during their tenure, and have already started to place orders for new trains.
There will be an opportunity to meet Arriva Rail North staff and hear more about their plans for our area at the FoWS AGM in May (watch this blog for confirmation of the date and venue).