Archive for the ‘Connection Times’ Category


Local rail improvement schemes get moving

March 31, 2012

Work has started on a couple of rail engineering schemes around Manchester to improve services and timimgs.

Over at Stalybridge the old bay platform (where the 0738 from Walkden arrived) has now been closed and workmen are digging out a new bay platform on the other side of the station (next to the Station Buffet Bar, for those of you who know that wonderful institution). This will allow trains from Victoria to pull into and and out Stalybridge without waiting to cross the busy Transpennine express main lines.

As more through trains from Walkden to Stalybridge are being considered for the December 2012 timetable, this could have a significant benefit to travellers from Walkden: a direct connection onto the Transpennine express services to Leeds, York, Newcastle, Hull etc, instead of having to cross between Victoria and Piccadilly in town.

For fans of the aforementioned Station Buffet Bar it’s an even better prospect … to be able to return from enjoying a few drinks at Stalybridge station on a direct service to Walkden (currently the connections at Victoria are dire).

A little bit further afield trees are being cleared to allow the “Todmorden Curve” to be re-instated. This short section of track east of Todmorden station was closed many years ago cutting off direct services from Burnley to Manchester. It’s not confirmed when the curve will re-open to passenger services, but it’s good to see work  taking place to prepare the way !


“Standing Up For Investment In Greater Manchester” – the state of local trains raised at Tory party conference

October 8, 2011

The poor quality of trains and services in Manchester were highlighted by Walkden South councillor Iain Lindley in a speech to the Conservative Party Conference this week.

Contrasting the plight of Mancunian rail users with the newer trains and more frequent services provided in the south, Cllr Lindley said:

Conference, have you ever been in London and complained about waiting five minutes for your tube train? If my train to work in Cheshire is cancelled, I have to wait a whole hour. There are residents and commuters on my local station who wait half an hour only to find a train so full they cannot get on it”

The full text of Cllr Lindley’s short address can be read on his website here.

Walkden’s train passengers will be fervently hoping the message was heard by Transport Secretary Philip Hammond.

NB: FOWS is a strictly non-party political group (impartiality is enshrined in our constitution), and we are happy to work with, and acknowledge good deeds by, politicians of all parties.



Manchester rail improvements get green light

March 26, 2011

Some good news in this week’s budget for long-suffering rail user in Manchester, when the chancellor gave the go-ahead to Network Rail’s Northern (a.k.a. Manchester) Hub plans, a package of capacity upgrades including a couple of extra through platforms at Piccadilly and a new curve from Salford Central station to Deansgate allowing trains from Leeds and Rochdale to come into Victoria before following the new route round to Piccadilly and the Airport.
It’s not yet clear how this will impact services to/from Walkden – but hopefully it will mean better facilities at Victoria and an improvement on the woeful connections for trains to/from Yorkshire.
There are more details of the plans – which could be running as soon as 2016 – on Network Rail’s website here.


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 ( 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 🙂


Timetable shake-up due in December

November 12, 2008

Long time users of the train service from Walkden will have grown used to patterns of trains that barely change from year to year … summer sees an additional train a day running through to Blackpool and back, and in the autumn many departure times slide forwards a few minutes to keep the trains on time during the “leaf fall” period.

But this December we will see one of the largest shake-ups of timetables in the Manchester area for 20 years or more as local services are moved around to slot in between more frequent trains on the Piccadilly to London route and “semi-fast” trains being introduced on the Victoria to Leeds line.

The Walkden line is less dramatically affected than many others in the area, but nevertheless the new timetable ushers in the most radical changes seen at Walkden for many years.

To see the new train times, you can query the National Rail Online Journey Planner and enter a travel date later than Dec 14th.

The main changes affecting Monday to Friday services appear to be:

1) increased number of trains during the morning peak with 7 inbound services to Manchester before 9am (compared to 5 at present)

2) decreased number of trains during the afternoon peak with 4 outbound services between 4.30pm and 6.30pm (compared to 5 at present)

3) more consistent departure times throughout the day (at xx20 and xx50 to Manchester and xx04 and xx29 to Wigan, from 10am to 4pm)

4) Overall number of departures per day is unchanged: 31 towards Manchester and 30 towards Wigan.

Whether the new timetable will represent a net improvement or deterioration remains to be seen – for some travellers that will no doubt depend on how their connecting services are affected too. The extra morning train (actually one of the two Atherton expresses that are not currently scheduled to stop at Walkden) will hopefully offer some relief to passengers on the dreadfully overcrowded 0734 and 0801 departures, but the thinning out of afternoon peak services must be a worrying development as these trains are often packed full already.

Disclaimer: Information about new train times has been obtained from the National Rail Journey Planner. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the data but FOWS cannot be held responsible for any errors made during our editing process. Please check your train times with National Rail or locally before travelling.


Northern fears for south Manchester services in December timetable

July 22, 2008

Northern Rail, together with GMPTE, are reported in the railway press as being so concerned about the impact of Virgin’s December timetable changes as to have written to the Office of Rail Regulation.

From December Virgin will be running 3 trains per hour to London instead of the current 2 which means they will take up more platform spaces at Piccadilly and – crucially – make the Stockport to Piccadilly section even busier.

Northern Rail’s mid-Cheshire services are among the victims of the changes – some services which run from Cheshire through to Piccadilly or Blackpool will terminate at Stockport with travellers having to change there to complete their journey into Manchester.

There are also though to be knock-on effects for services all over Manchester. Walkden trains will be slightly re-timed, but other routes will suffer loss of some cross-city services and, because fewer Northern trains will be able to cross the city, the timetable will require Northern to use more trains and crews.


Few Changes in Summer Timetable

May 20, 2008

The summer timetable – valid from May 19th until October 5th – contains just one major change from its predecessor, the addition of the traditional summer-only daily return service to Blackpool North.

The Blackpool train leaves Walkden at 1028 (Mon-Sat) and gets back at 2020 (Mon-Fri) or 2029 (Sat). This service only runs from now until September 13th.

Other changes in the new timetable are less significant:

a) the 2039 to Manchester is partially retimed: from September 20th and on Saturday’s only, this will run 6 minutes later departing Walkden at 2045.

b) the 2237 to Huddersfield now terminates at Manchester Victoria Mon-Fri. It continues to serves Huddersfield on Saturdays until September 6th but then only runs as far as Greenfield on Saturdays from September 13th on.

Unfortunately there are no improvements to the difficult connections at Salford Crescent, nor extra rush-hour services yet. We are hopefully that these may be achieved by Northern in the next timetable but one: December 2008.

Of course there are still, regrettably, no Sunday services whatsoever.