Archive for the ‘Disabled Access’ Category

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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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Northwich station gets platform raise … how about Walkden ?

March 26, 2011

Northwich station has recently been fitted with a “Harrington Hump” ramp to assist passengers boarding and alighting from trains.
As FOWS have long been warning, the notoriously high and wide platform gap at Walkden is a serious accident waiting to happen, and we renew our call for Northern and Network Rail to take some effective remedial action.
Details of Northwich’s ramp can be read here on Network Rail’s wesbite.

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Platform gap at Walkden – we want to hear your experiences

March 12, 2011

A long-standing aim of FOWS has been to tackle the large step between trains and the platform at Walkden – it’s a well known health and safety hazard and source of extreme inconvenience and discomfort to many.

Several years ago we asked the Network Rail and the Office of Rail Regulation to investigate, and they concluded the step was indeed outside of modern tolerances – but that they had no obligation to fix it.

We have recently checked again with Network Rail and found that 3 years later they still no have plans to address the situation.

FOWS don’t believe this is acceptable and would like to hear from anyone who has been injured, frightened, or experienced other difficulties trying to board or leave trains at Walkden. If you’d be prepared to share your story with us, please write to friends@walkdenstation.org.uk or come along to our next meeting at the Walkden Legion club on 4th May at 7.15pm.

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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 🙂

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Walkden prioritised for disabled access improvements

November 18, 2010

Walkden station moved a step closer to the important goal of full disabled accessibility when a meeting of GMITA’s Policy and Resources Committee placed it 4th highest priority in its development plans. The prioritisation – based on the station’s ever-increasing “footfall” – places Walkden ahead of dozens of stations across the Greater Manchester area.

Unfortunately this doesn’t provide a guaranteed delivery date as the scheme is dependent on continued DfT funding – something that cannot be taken for granted in this age of government cuts.

For full details see the  GMITA’s Policy and Resources Committee meeting minutes from 19th November.

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“Mind the Gap” … warning signs installed

March 14, 2010

New "Mind The Gap" sign at Walkden station
“Warning – Mind the Gap” signs have been installed on 6 of the 8 pillars at Walkden. The large gap between platform and train has been a long-running concern and the warning signs will undoubtedly be useful for alerting first-time visitors to the station about the hazard.

For those of you who have difficulty boarding or stepping down from the train at Walkden because of the high and wide gap, we are waiting confirmation from Northern Rail as to options for your assistance.

Previously Northern have advised passengers to ask the guard to deploy the wheelchair ramp that all trains carry, but recent conversations have uncovered the fact this advice might not apply any longer because of Health & Safety changes. As soon as we have an answer from Northern we’ll post their latest advice here.

A mid-term solution might be provided by the so-called “Harrington Hump” … a pre-formed plastic ramp that can be fixed to a small length of station platform. This technology has been trialled successfully by Network Rail at several locations.

Around this time last year FOWS asked Network Rail to consider Walkden as a site where the hump could be piloted, but unfortunately our emails were never answered.

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Clarification on Northern’s taxi service for disabled passengers

April 25, 2009

It’s been pointed out to us that the advice for disabled passengers on our website needed some clarification.

The taxi service that Northern provides for disabled passengers is not entirely “free” as we suggested – although the taxi fare is covered by Northern you still need a valid train ticket or pass for the journey you’re making.

We’d be interested to hear from anyone who’s used this service to/from Walkden … how did it work out for you and would you have any advice for other disabled travellers ? Please post a comment if you’ve tried the service.

Thanks to Phil Mills for alerting us to this.