Archive for the ‘Platform Length’ Category


Platform lengthening under way

October 8, 2011

As you may have seen work has started this week on the disused section of platform beyond the wooden fence at the east end of Walkden station. In fact I should say the former wooden fence as it’s already been removed, along with the vegetation that has colonised the platform over the last few decades.

We understand the work is in preparation for the longer (4 carriage) trains that will start to use the station on a more regular basis from December (see previous blog entry for more details).

On the subject of the longer trains, we have now been told by Northern that fewer services are going to benefit. The latest plan shows just the following trains to be lengthened:

  • 0715 Wigan W – Stalybridge (0738 from Walkden)
  • 1600 Southport-Huddersfield (1650 from Walkden)
  • 1710 Man Vic – Kirkby (1731 from Walkden)

Naturally we are hoping that more services will benefit as originally planned by TfGM, and we are seeking confirmation from Northern Rail.



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 🙂


Over-crowding on a train with empty carriages

November 14, 2010

Late-night travellers were treated to cattle-class travel last night as the 2320 from a very busy Manchester Victoria operated as a 4-carriage train, with only2 carriages open to the public.

As regular travellers will know 4-carriage trains are permitted to stop at Walkden but due to the short platform it’s at the discretion of the train crew and therefore somewhat unpredictable.

The situation was exacerbated last night by the larger of the two trains being the one selected for closure – so all the passengers not only had to cram into 2 carriages but the smallest 2 carriages out of the 4.

FOWS have long campaigned for the platforms at Walkden to be lengthened so 4-carriage trains can be regularly and reliably scheduled to stop here – the public demand is clearly there for it. We have offered to help with platform clearance and maintenance of the additional 10 meters or so that are required, but there is still no sign of progress on this from the railways.

It’s perhaps understandable if the crew of a late night train are nervous of the possible legal consequences of using 4-carriages – but this issue has been a problem for years now and needs to be sorted out by Northern Rail, Network Rail, and GMPTE.


FOWS call for matching commitment from Northern/GMPTE at Annual General Meeting

March 14, 2009

The audience at last week’s FOWS Annual General Meeting heard speakers from GMPTE, GMPTA and Northern Rail give updates on their organisations efforts towards improving Walkden station.

The meeting opened with reports from FOWS Chair Peter Aust and Secretary Neil Stapleton which reflected on a busy and productive year for the group. However, the reports concluded that matching levels of commitment and improvements have not been seen from either station owners or operators, a failure that leaves the station with the same infrastructure problems as noted last year, and whose contrast with FOWS’ efforts is causing increasing frustration within the group.

A statement from local MP Barbara Keeley catalogued the considerable effort she has put into championing the station’s cause this year, including a series of meetings and communications with Heidi Mottram of Northern Rail and mentioning the station’s dire facilities in Parliament debates.

Steve Magner and Cllr Ian Macdonald from GMPTE and GMPTA respectively acknowledged the group’s frustration and advised more patience will be required. Whilst confident that improvements will be made to the station over the next few years, they could not commit to timescales or explain the criteria that has been used to exclude Walkden from the first batch of stations to receive GMPTA investment.

Chris Ingham of Northern Rail reported on the company’s improved reliability figures achieved during the last monitoring period but said Network Rail have still not reported back to Northern about the costs of re-opening the full length of platform, meaning there has been no tangible progress on this issue for 12 months.

Sunday services have been the topic of discussions between GMPTE and Northern Rail, but the estimated costs provided by Northern Rail to start the service in November are currently beyond GMPTE’s reach. Negotiations are continuing to explore ways of reducing the cost of the service.

Memberships for 2009 were renewed (it’s just £1 a year for anyone interested !) and several new members were welcomed to the group.


FOWS keep up the good work … now it’s Network Rail’s turn !

August 24, 2008

This morning FOWS volunteers have been tidying and weeding the station. Picking up the remains of other folks’ suppers and cleaning curry sauce from the walls is not a lot of fun, but FOWS give their time freely just to try and make the station something to be proud of.

Their dedication contrasts with neglect of the station owners Network Rail … the station roof has been leaking for months, the internal walls are stained and filthy, paintwork in the entrance hall is many years old and peeling, there are even plants growing from the upper reaches of the walls and rotting roof !

Meanwhile up on the platform the stepping gap remains dangerously and uncomfortably large, and there’s no sign of progress on the platform lengthening works that Network Rail agreed to assess several months ago.

FOWS call on Network Rail to get their act together at Walkden and start taking better care of their property.


Read Barbara Keeley’s speech on Walkden and the TIF

July 22, 2008

The full text of Worsley MP Barbara Keeley’s recent speech, which opened the parliamentary debate on Manchester’s TIF bid, can be read online here.

Ms Keeley eloquently describes the problems at Walkden station in detail, as well as other problems with the inaccessibility and poor provision of public transport in our area.

As Ms Keeley quite rightly says “There is only limited use of rail networks through Atherton and Walkden for commuting into Manchester, because the services are overcrowded and subject to other problems, too. Express trains from Atherton do not stop at Walkden, because of the limited length of the platform. The two-carriage trains that do stop there tend to be full, and 30, 40 or more people are regularly left there in the morning peak hour, because they cannot get on the overcrowded trains.”

Access to Walkden station is poor. There are two flights of stairs and no lift. The facilities are outdated and the station infrastructure is in urgent need of renewal. There are no car-parking facilities at the station apart from parking in nearby residential streets.”

Ms Keeley’s speech is well worth reading for anyone who has an interest in the TIF bid – which should mean all users of Walkden station ! – and FOWS are very grateful for her continuing fight to secure improvements at Walkden.


Northern Respond to FOWS Appeal for Longer Platforms

November 13, 2007

In the light of on-going over-crowding problems caused by the short trains that serve Walkden in the morning FOWS recently wrote to Northern MD Heidi Mottram to appeal for some of the disused section of platform to be returned to use, allowing the longer “Atherton Express” trains to stop here.

Mrs Mottram has replied saying that Northern are “very well aware” of the overcrowding problem at Walkden and outlining their plans to investigate the possibility of lengthening the platform.

Northern are considering whether some 20m of disused platform could be returned to use and are clearing an area behind the wooden barrier for further analysis. Although Mrs Mottram warns that no funds are currently available, FOWS are encouraged that the scheme is being actively pursued and will continue to persuade Northern of the business benefits of a longer platform.

If you have suffered because of rush-hour overcrowding at Walkden, you can write to Northern at to make a comment or complaint: as the Northern Rail website says “We know that we can always improve so if there is anything you think we should be doing please contact us.”