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Late Night Bus replacements, 13-16 May. Timetable
Manchester United Halt
We have been asked if we know why Manchester United
Football Ground station has not had a train service on
match days in the last season. This was raised at a
meeting last month with the Northern station manager and
Community Manager; it appears that there have been some
discussions recently between Northern and MUFC, but
there remain two separate obstacles to the future use of
The first reason, advanced by the Club, is that
passengers arriving at the station can proceed directly
to the stadium, without passing through the security
cordon faced by those walking in from the street. In the
light of the ongoing terrorism situation, this is
Consideration has (briefly we suspect) been given to
building a new platform on the (currently disused)
'turnback siding' on the opposite side of the line at
White City, with an exit created to the street at Sir
Matt Busby Way - a station there has been proposed in
the past - but money would have to be found, and such a
station would be required to be accessible to
wheelchairs, etc. An additional station on the main line
would be even more expensive, and serving it would be
difficult to fit in the timetable.
In addition, however, the increased number of trains
calling at Manchester Piccadilly and Oxford Road since
the May 2018 timetable change means it is difficult to
find a path for trains to the ground, especially since
kick-off times these days are very variable, in contrast
to the 3pm Saturday or 7.30 Weekdays standard in times
The new Metrolink Trafford
will have a station at Wharfside, which
it hoped will take some of the load from existing
Metrolink stations, although it is not as close as the
railway station and will require crossing a busy road.
Incidentally, our station ticket machine
now offer through tickets to Metrolink stations, which
are a considerable saving over re-booking in Manchester.
Enter 'Metrolink' and you will see a choice of
combinations of Zones. The problem remains that you need
to know the 'zone' in which your destination station
lies. We suggest you download
7 May 2019
A letter from the Mayor
Although an improvement in some ways, notably the
restoration of through services beyond Piccadilly, the
timetable which comes into force on 19 May reduces by
one the number of morning peak services to Manchester.
Our colleague Andy Stobbie of Woodsmoor Station friends
wrote to Mayor Andy Burnham about this; here is his
Thank you for contacting me in relation to
rail services from Woodsmoor and Davenport under the
new May 2019 timetable. Firstly. please accept my
apologies for the delay in responding to you.
With regards to the May 2019 timetable, the Hazel
Grove services are re-timed to XX:21 to XX:02 which
puts these services in front of the Buxton services.
Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has raised the
issues you have described with Northern who did
investigate the possibility of the XX:12 service [the
07:36 train from Buxton which passes Davenport
non-stop at 08:15] stopping at Woodsmoor and
Davenport]. However, this has been deemed
operationally not possible. TfGM will continue to
bring this matter to Northernís attention during
future timetable changes and, should the Opportunity
to implement this change arise, Northern will consider
this suggestion accordingly.
It is worth noting that under the May 2019 timetable.
Woodsmoor and Davenport have two more services to
Manchester than the Train Service Requirement (TSR)
requires. This is because there are nine arrivals at
Piccadilly in the 0700 ó 0959 time band compared to
the seven arrivals specified in the TSR.
As Mayor of Greater Manchester it is my duty to ensure
that our local rail services. which provide such vital
connections for our communities, improve and I will
continue working alongside TfGM. Network Rail and the
Operators to make sure this happens.
Our first comment is that the 'TSR' agreed with the
Department of Transport was, as we complained at the
time it was published, inadequate, as it assumed that
Davenport and Woodsmoor are minor stations.
It would also have been good to have have had from
someone an actual explanation of why stops on the
train are 'deemed operationally impossible'. This has
been discussed by us in a meeting of Railway friends
with local managers on 26 April, but we still don't
fully understand the thinking involved except that the
train from Buxton might been too crowded to board.
There is an East Midlands train from Nottingham might
be delayed. However, there won't be any changes now
until December 2019.
There is a gap between the 08:06 and the 08:40 to
Manchester - something very similar was the case, for
the same reason, in the timetable before before the
chaos of May 2018. The 07:56 introduced in December
was a response to our complaints about an even bigger
gap, from 07:40 to 08:25, but Network Rail have not
allowed this from May 19.
It should be borne in mind that there was no
'consultation phase' for this timetable. We are told
that a number of Davenport passengers have
complained to Northern, some via their elected
representatives. It would help if such complaints
could be copied to us at
so that we can be aware when attending meetings of a
broad spectrum of local opinion.
26 April 2019
Without any explanation to passengers, or publicity, the
two trains per hour service which has been
available on Sundays at Davenport has been reduced to
one per hour with effect from 31 March, with the Hazel
Grove 'turnbacks' removed and only the Buxton -
Manchester services running - and number of those were
cancelled at short notice on 31 March due to
unavailability of staff. Anyone downloading the
timetable leaflet from the Northern website will get the
impression that there are no Sunday services at all,
whilst the timetable posters at the station have not
been altered at the time of writing. Note that the last
train from Manchester on Sundays is affected by this.
Furthermore, advance information shows that this
situation will continue through the summer.
Updated 19 April 2019
From 18 March, Northern's 'penalty fare' scheme is
extended to cover our station, anyone boarding a train
with out a ticket of a 'promise to pay' ticket -
obtainable free from the machine- is liable to be
charged a penalty fare of 'the greater of £20 or twice
the full single from the station where they got on the
train to the next station at which the train
stops.' When the ticket office is open, you should
buy your ticket there to obtain the full range of
available tickets, as there are some options not
available on the machine. (You can also buy tickets
online and collect them from the ticket office or the
The machine does not take cash, and the text on the
promise to pay ticket seems to imply that the conductor
will only accept it and not cards. However, what's
not clear is what happens (outside ticket office hours)
if you have a season ticket of pass and want to continue
beyond its validity, a feature not available on the
machine. Presumably there is no need to get a promise to
The revenue officers who will be charging the penalties
have some discretion, hence the word 'may' in the
Northern documents. It remains to be seen if this
discretion applies to someone travelling towards Buxton
who does not make the journey over the bridge and back
to buy a ticket or promise to pay ticket. Problems
really start when the machine is out of order, not an
unusual occurrence. If the conductor does not
appear, will the agency staff who check tickets at
Piccadilly believe you? It's been suggested that you
take a photo of the machine as proof!
17 March 2019
The Charlestown Story
Our latest local
attempts to unravel the
complicated history of the 'Jolly Sailor' inn and its
surroundings. Comments are very welcome.
28 February 2019.
Smartcards and Penalty fares
Changes to fare and ticket options are coming thick and
fast from Northern, sometimes leaving customers
(including us) puzzling about the details.
Northern's Season Tickets sold or renewed now are being
issued on (in?) plastic 'Smartcards
' which need
to be scanned by a reading device to check the ticket
that's 'loaded' on them. The plan is that the system
will later be extended to other kinds of ticket, in the
style of the London 'Oyster Card'. There is no need for
a photograph, but holders 'may be asked for proof of
identity'. The cards are 'not transferable', so
your partner can't use yours at the weekend, but we
suspect this will be hard to enforce. Sadly,
travellers are now faced with a variety of cards to keep
in their wallet - Stagecoach Bus, Metrolink, 'Get me
There' etc. Perhaps things will become clearer in
There is a web
page about the system
, but some aspects seem vague
to the uninitiated. Conductors and ticket checkers will
have to carry a scanner to check passenger's tickets as
there is no visible evidence of the expiry date or
route, while ticket barriers will read them in a
contactless way. Presumably compatible scanners will
have to be issued to conductors of all companies sharing
routes with Northern if the current validity is not to
change, as there is nothing to prevent us using our
Davenport - Manchester season tickets on any train from
Stockport to Manchester, for example.
From 18 March, the Buxton line will be included in
Northern's 'Penalty Fare' scheme. If you join a train
with no ticket you become liable to pay a Penalty
the Northern website
for details. Outside booking
office hours you are expected to obtain a free 'Promise
to Pay' (PTP) ticket from the station ticket machine,
and pay on-train or at the first opportunity. This
applies if you only have cash, or the machine cannot
sell you the ticket you want. The latter category
includes an number of different kinds of ticket as
things stand - 'Duo', Day Rangers and various types of
'System One' ticket' and through tickets to Metrolink
stations, no name a few. As well as being inconvenient,
it is a loophole for anyone who doesn't want to buy a
ticket: if challenged, just ask for one of the above. We
have been told by Northern there will soon be new
software in the machines which will be able to deal with
a bigger range of tickets.
An irritating feature which applies to small
stations is that there is only one ticket machine, on
the Manchester-bound platform. So if travelling
southwards, even just to get a PTP you will need to go
to the machine, involving the steps, and then go back to
catch the train (the PTP has the station name, date and
time printed on it.) This will be most awkward for some
users. The reliability of the machines is
also questionable. A look at the Journey
will give a list of the machines out
of action: at the time of writing,for example there 12
out of order on the network. Already, on other lines
already applying the penalty, there have been cases of
passengers from stations with defunct machines not being
believed by the ticket staff at Piccadilly.
You can, we understand, buy a ticket on-line beforehand
and download it to your phone, but that sort of thing is
not to everyone's taste.
24 February 2019
On 7 February the RMT union announced that they have
suspended their strike action, after successful talks
with the management and ACAS and an agreement to have a
conductor on every train. Full details of the
conductor's role are to be the subject of further
discussions, to let's hope a satisfactory solution is
arrived at. Some other companies now have the driver
opening the doors and the conductor closing them - one
possible solution, which also avoids the conductor being
left behind on the platform, but we have no detail about
what exactly is proposed.
It's noticeable that the RMT have used the term 'Guard'
in all their pronouncements, although the official title
has been 'conductor' for some years.
8 February 2019
We have received the following message from Davenport
and Cale Green councillor Dickie Davies:
Ward councillors have held meetings with council
officers about traffic and related issues on Oakfield
Firstly, concerning traffic calming matters, a set of
plans have now been produced. These will be circulated
to all residents on Oakfield, Elmfield and Beechfield
roads in the very near future [update - now received].
Further you will be invited to a drop-in consultation
event which will take place on 28th February.
Secondly, enforcement officers have promised to step up
visits to Creative Apparel. This will include monitoring
of loading/unloading and issuing of, where appropriate,
tickets. The temporary planning consent for the
containers is due to expire in June. So far no
application has been made to extend the temporary
application or to move the operation to another
location. The situation will continue to be monitored.
We appreciate that residents have produced significant
evidence of unacceptable loading activities at the site.
However, enforcement officers have asked for details of
peak times when loading and unloading talks place on the
pavement. This is to target their visits to the unit.
Yours, Dickie Davies
7 January 2019
Jolly Sailor reopening confirmed
Some good news is that Almond Family Pubs have confirmed
officially that they have taken on the 'Jolly Sailor'
and will be refurbishing it, with an enlarged dining
area at the rear and various other improvements, for
re-opening in 'Spring 2019.' Here is a link
to their announcement
and here's a link
to their planning proposal
which has been granted
by the Council. Almond are known for their carvery style
of operation, but they assure us that there will also be
a choice of other meals, and also an area reserved for
The building was built in 1895 for the Daniel Clifton
brewery to replace a smaller pub, built in the
traditional style in the 1790s; the image above dates to
26 January 2019
over Edgeley reservoirs, January 2019
Year - Another Strike
As the Saturday strikes drag on into 2018, we do wonder
whether when anyone is going to resolve this dispute.
Northern now say they have again asked the RMT union for
take part in an independent inquiry, while the RMT
become increasingly aggressive:
RMT members across Northern Rail are
standing rock solid and united again on this 45th day
of strike action as the company ploughs on regardless
with its plans to throw guards off their trains and
resorts to a barrage of complete misinformation aimed
at the travelling public over their clear intention to
introduce widespread driver only operation.
Some members, we suspect, welcome the relief from the
anti-social behaviour sometimes seen on Saturday trains.
The managers who are required to 'voluntarily' act as
guards, on the other hand, must be running out of
patience. Northern, for their part, repeat that the
Department for Transport have agreed that every train
will have a 'second person' on board to help and advise
passengers, sell and check tickets and so on, while the
driver, aided by cameras on the outside of the train,
controls the opening and closing of the doors. This
promise, which the RMT say is 'lies', is a softening of
the original requirements of the Franchise which allowed
for trains to run with just the driver if for any reason
there is no second person available.
Of course, there are no cameras on the outside of our
existing trains, and it's doubtful whether there can be,
given the very small space for the necessary screen in
the driving cab of some of them. The new trains which
are soon to be entering traffic - class 195 diesels and
class 331 electrics, do have this feature but can also
be worked in the traditional way. However,
although they are promoted as replacing the unloved
'pacer' units, the diesel trains are unlikely to appear
on the Buxton line soon, although it is possible
that an electrified Hazel Grove - Blackpool service
might appear in May 2019. Our feeling is that 'Driver
Controlled Operation' on our line can not appear until
the Class 150s, built in the 1980s, are replaced
by new trains after 2025.
The difference between the two sides in the dispute,
apart from the doors, is - we understand - the amount of
training and responsibility required to be a traditional
guard, which includes the need to be familiar with the
stations and other features of the line being worked.
Like drivers, they 'sign a route' and cannot be used
flexibly across any route. Guards also have training in
'safety critical' matters related to what to do in an
accident, train failure, or similar situation.
Passengers may need to be evacuated, and possibly action
taken to prevent a collision should a train derail or
worse. A broken-down train might need to be rescued by
These are, of course, very rare events, and even more
rarely does the driver become incapacitated, but it does
happen. We are not offered any information by Northern
about the role of the 'second person' in such cases;
perhaps at least they will have an emergency phone
number to call.
RMT with their frightening website videos make much of
the other aspect of safety, the personal safety of the
passengers during the journey. However, in theory,
the 'second person' freed from the need to work the
doors will be a better position to reassure passengers.
But, like the current guards, they are not going to be
in any position to disarm a frenzied knife attacker or
bomber. Many of our four-car trains don't even have a
way for the guard to access the front two coaches while
the train is moving.
At the root of all this is, of course, Government money.
The franchise runs until 2025; currently the company
receives around a quarter of a billion pounds per year
to add to fares revenue. The franchise agreement
requires that by 2025 this must be reduced to somewhere
near £50 million, while running more train services. How
is this possible? Partly by paying less money to the new
'second person' grade, and partly by needing fewer
people because of the greater flexibility. But we have
yet to discover how much money the drivers' union will
demand for the extra responsibility transferred to their
members. The company directors say they are
guaranteeing that the existing guards will retain their
jobs and salary until the end of the franchise in 2025.
And we must bear in mind that local trains mean nothing
a very large proportion of taxpayers.
RMT paints the owners of Northern, the German State
Railway, as 'profiteers', but published figures suggest
that, at best, they can hope to achieve a 2% profit
margin. It's not surprising that the Government is
finding it increasingly difficult to find operators of
[The above is a personal view - any factual corrections
22 January 2019
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