Davenport Railway Station

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Christmas services (or not)

As usual, there will be no trains running in the mid-late evening of 24 December, all day on 25 and 26 December, or the  mid-late evening of 31 December.  The last trains at Davenport on 24 and 31 December will be 20:07 Davenport to Manchester and 19:49 from Manchester Piccadilly to Davenport.  The new franchise does include a much-needed requirement for some Boxing Day services, but they won't be starting this year. Additionally, from 30 December to 1 January it appears we will have a reduced service of just the hourly Buxton - Manchester Piccadilly trains. See the Northern website for some details.

There are no bus services on Christmas Day, and Stagecoach will also be shutting down their bus services around 7pm on 24 December and most serviceson 31 December. For those wishing to travel on Boxing Day, the Stagecoach 192 will be operating, and there will also be a Sunday service on Metrolink.There's more information on the TfGM website.
19 December 2017

Trouble on the Line

Thursday 14 December was not a good day on the local railway system.  A freight train, carrying wood pellets from Liverpool Bulk terminal to Drax power station, suffered a locomotive failure at about 15:10 just after the train had turned off towards Denton. The train stood there for 220 minutes. It was clear of the junction, and the points could be re-set for the main line but the last wagons were close enough for the electric track circuits to prevent the signals being cleared.

It was decided to authorise southbound trains to pass the red signals 'at caution', and  - according to reports - the driver of a Northern train noticed that he was directed on to the same path as a Cross-Country. He stopped his train safely, but there will have to be an investigation. Normal working was not restored for several hours.

Sunday 17 December saw several trains on the Buxton line cancelled, leaving two-hour gaps in service, for reasons not clear,  probably staff shortage.

19 December 2017

'New' rolling stock

The first batch of 13 Class 150 trains has begun to be transferred from Great Western to Northern, and are being refurbished and repainted before entering service. All of them are from the oldest (31 years?)  batch of 'Class 150/1' type which do not have gangway connections at the driving end.  Rail Minister Paul Maynard visited to have a look on 14 December: we wonder if he and two others in the picture tried out one of the awful three-person seats?

The white livery chosen by Northern still seems to be a mistake, as trains are likely to look shabby very quickly.

19 December 2017

May 2018 Timetable update - update

At a Friends Groups' meeting with Transport for Greater Manchester officers on 4 December we were informed that the final version of the May 2018 Northern timetables will not be made available until February 2018. Northern's application for track access, which included options four trains an hour between Manchester and Hazel Grove, two per hour continuing to Buxton (although this may refer to peak times only - the document is hard to interpret) has been submitted to Network Rail last month. They will then have to reply before Northern can finalise their timetables. In addition, it appears to be still uncertain how many trains will be available for transfer from other franchises.

5 December 2017

Avoid the crowds

If you are travelling into  Manchester for some Christmas Shopping, be aware that trains will be very busy, especially on Saturdays. Trains which have started from Buxton are often very full. On Mondays to Saturdays we'd advise you to aim for one which has started from Hazel Grove - from Davenport they are at 39 minutes past each hour from 09:39 to 16:39 - as they are more likely to have free seats. These also call at Manchester Oxford Road and Deansgate, which can be very useful, especially the connection at Deansgate to Metrolink. (So useful, that Northern are abolishing our through service from May 2018.)
28 November 2017

Winter Timetable

Northern's new timetables, valid from 10 December, are now available to Download. There are few, if any, changes on our line, except that trains to Manchester will revert to their slightly-later 'normal' times a minute or two later than the 'leaf-fall' version. One thing that has nearly 'caught us out' has been that for some reason the 19:08 to Manchester has been timed to depart Davenport at 19:03, a full five minutes earlier. However, being the return working of the 16:22 from Preston which usually suffers delays en route and is allowed just four minutes to turn round at Buxton, it seldom runs on time anyway.

28 November 2017

Festive events

Friends of Cale Green Park will be holding their annual 'Christmas in the Park' event on Sunday 3 December 2017 from 12:30 to 15:00. There will be music, refreshments, sales stalls and attractions for children including donkey rides. Admission Free. On the day the Friends will also be collecting donations of rucksacks, sleeping bags, gloves, hats, fleeces, undies, socks and extra food in aid of the Wellspring Rucksack Project. These will in turn be distributed to homeless people and rough sleepers in Stockport.

Also very much worth a visit:

The Scout Group Christmas Fair, on Sunday 26 November 12:00 - 1:00 at 'The Hollies' 194 Buxton Road. Gifts, cards, crafts, cakes (lots of cakes), books, toys, bric-a-brac, chocolate tombola, bottle tombola, mulled wine, games and Santa's Grotto.

The Christmas Tree Festival at St George's Church, which runs from Wednesday 29 November – Sunday 3 December, including musical performances on various days. See their website for details.

No trains to Blackpool

From 11 January to 28 January the line from Preston to Blackpool is closed for electrification work.  Trains which normally go to Blackpool will run in their normal times from Davenport (at the slightly-earlier 'leaf-fall' times until 11 December) and terminate at Preston where a bus service will be provided for Blackpool line passengers.
10 November 2017

Community Events

Our colleagues at Woodsmoor Station Friends are holding a bulb-planting session on the embankment outside Woodsmoor station on Saturday 4 November from 10am. While we battle with the rail companies about Japanese Knotweed at Davenport station which restricts our gardening activity, why not wander over and help them. Their poster says: 'Please bring your own trowel or bulb planter and gloves/ appropriate footwear. Tea & biccies provided!' Email woodsmoorstation@outlook.com if you plan to attend.

The following weekend, 11-12 November, there is the Woodsmoor Artists Exhibition: an art exhibition with some handmade crafts such as jewellery, cushions, greetings cards etc. Lovely home-made cakes and drinks too. The venue Trinity Methodist Church, Bramhall Lane, corner of Trinity Gardens. Some of the proceeds go to charity. All on the ground floor so easy access for wheelchairs etc. Free to get in. Sat 11 November 10 am - 5.00 pm Sunday 12th November 1 pm - 4pm.
31 October 2017

Autumn is here

Manchester - Buxton train arriving at Middlewood, seen from  the Middlewood Way on 7 October.  Trains climb a steep 1 in 60 gradient here, and all those leaves about to fall on to the track can become a slippy coating on the rails ...

... and here is Network Rail's answer: the Rail Head Treatment Train which runs every day in autumn to treat the rail surface. Even so, you'll notice that some trains will be rolling along with a 'banging' noise, due to a 'flat' ground on the steel surface of the wheel when it starts to slide when the driver applied the brakes.  The train than has to be take out of service for treatment, which can lead to cancellations. That's why extra time is needed to allow for careful stopping.
19 October 2017

Download a document sent to Northern about Japanese Knotweed and tree problems (PDF)

Two more RMT strike days

The RMT Union staged two more one-day strikes of Northern train conductors/guards, on Tuesday 3 and Thursday 5 October. Our opinion is that this is now becoming absurd. Northern have signed up to a franchise agreement laid down by the Department of Transport that promises to run 50% of services with the driver controlling the train doors.  There is at present no plan as to how this will be achieved, or which lines will be affected, although the new trains on order (unlikely to appear at Davenport) will no doubt be fitted with suitable controls. The DfT has, we understand, agreed to make up any financial losses incurred by Northern, although presumably not permanent losses caused by people giving up on train travel. The idea seems to be that there will often be a second person on board, but not always.

A good percentage of trains will operate with volunteer (?) Northern management staff (even admin staff such as stakeholder managers) having been given training. The RMT insist that the strike is about safety, and their members have lost four-figure sums in salary. Passengers think it might speed up the service, but don't know whether it's safe or not, because we don't know how stations and trains will be adapted to allow drivers to see what's happening. Present rules require guards to get out on to the platform at stops; it's unlikely that drivers will be doing that.  And who will be available to deploy the wheelchair ramp at smaller stations or help people with baby buggies, etc.? Metrolink is driver-only but all platforms are level with the tram floor.

19 September 2017

Autumn looms

The annual 'leaf-fall' timetable change applies from 2 October: most trains towards Manchester are timetabled to depart from Davenport a couple of minutes earlier than normal. Don't be caught out.
19 September 2017

May 2018 Timetable - update

We have heard unofficially that  Northern's submission to Network Rail has been modified to provide calls at Davenport and Woodsmoor by almost all services, giving an improved peak-time service and allowing all-day travel in both directions between our stations and High Peak destinations as we enjoy now. However, we are still to lose our direct service to stations beyond Manchester Piccadilly; it is too late for any further consultation at this stage. Read about the planned service cuts

19 September 2017

Manchester Duo

Northern have extended their 'Duo' ticket offer to journeys between Davenport and stations to Manchester. Two adults travelling together both ways in the off-peak period can get a second ticket at half-price. An off-peak return to Manchester, normally £5 each, costs for £7.50 for the two. The same offer continues to apply between Davenport and stations beyond Hazel Grove.
4 September 2017

More strikes

The RMT union has called more strikes of their guards working for Northern Railway. On Friday 1 and Monday 4 September, trains will run to a much-reduced timetable. Details can be found on the Northern website. The RMT's take is on their site.
29 August 2017

Garners Lane Controversy

For several years now there has been a 7.7 tonne weight limit for vehicles using Garners Lane, recently reinforced by lighting the signs at night. However, in a recent Stockport Council Executive Summary Sheet a proposal was raised:
To seek approval and funding for an investigation and feasibility study for the revocation of the existing weight limit on Garners Lane and introduction of a weight limit on Gilmore Street and Range Road.
Predictably, this came to the notice of Garners Lane residents, in the form of a flyer featuring quotations from former Councillor David White accusing our current Councillors of being in favour of such a  scheme. We contacted Councillor Dickie Davies who writes:
A leaflet has been posted recently which has misinformed residents about the possibility of the weight restriction being lifted in Garners Lane. This is not going to happen. In February councillors from Brinnington and Central Ward asked for a report to come forward about HGV problems on Range Road and Gilmore Street (Shaw Heath). The highways officer at the Central Area Committee meeting in July admitted that the title of the report was wrong and that councillors were not being asked to remove the restriction in Garners Lane.

There was a discussion about HGV routes and the fact that the council do not have up to date data on movements around the area. It was agreed to request a feasibility study to look at how HGVs affected Range Road and Gilmore Street and also if HGVs are still using Garners Lane despite the weight restrictions. Please be assured that there are no proposals to lift the weight restriction on Garners Lane.
This issue appears to have risen to prominence because of the current flow HGV traffic carrying material to be dumped on the Adswood Tip site to prepare it for use as a 'biomass plantation.' The planners intended that most of the '50 lorries per day for 3-5 years' would arrive from the M60 via Bird Hall Lane and Adswood Road, but it seems that some are finding other routes.
19 August 2017

Farewell RBS

We've created a new page for our Local History section to mark the recent closure of Davenport's last bank branch. Read it at davenportstation.org.uk/bank.html : all comments are welcome as always.
11 August 2017

No Trains to Bolton

From Saturday 12 August until 27 August, the line through Bolton is closed for several weeks for electrification work and the re-creation of an extra platform. Our trains which normally run that way will be terminating at, or starting from, Manchester Oxford Road. Details on the Northern website.

10 August 2017

Knotweed news

Travellers will have noticed that the pernicious Japanese Knotweed on the Buxton-bound platform, which was 'knocked back' somewhat by treatment last year, has survived and is making a re-appearance, and also spreading on the car park side of the bridge.

Northern has been made aware of the fact and their specialist contractors have been summoned.
10 August 2017

Woodsmoor Classic Car Show

This year's Woodsmoor Classic Car Show is on Bank Holiday Monday 28 August at Woodsmoor Playing Fields (a few minutes' walk from Woodsmoor station). The event raises money for charitable causes Tommy's and St Ann's Hospice, so why not go along and enjoy the classic cars, craft stalls and catering.
10 August 2017

Davenport on 'YouTube'

Davenport station had a few moments of fame when the station appeared on YouTube during the 'All The Stations' project in which Geoff Marshall and Vicki Pipe spent the summer travelling around Britain on trains, with a plan to be on trains which stopped every station on the National Rail System.
2 August 2017

Promise 2018  v.  reality 2017

We have been having a look at a Department for Transport webpage which explains the benefits of the new Northern Franchise. Under 'Manchester - Buxton' it says that from May 2018 there will be:
More frequent services between Manchester and New Mills New Town (2 trains per hour for most of the day) and Hazel Grove (with 4 trains per hour each way for much of the day).

Faster journeys between Buxton and Manchester – with a maximum journey time of 55 minutes on the fastest trains (a saving of between 7 and 10 minutes). This will also benefit intermediate stations: Disley, Furness Vale, Whaley Bridge, Chapel-en-le-Frith and New Mills New Town
Davenport and Woodsmoor are not mentioned. However, what is notable is the promise of a maximum journey time between Manchester and Buxton of 55 minutes.  Most trains are already timed at 56 minutes downhill, calling at Woodsmoor and Davenport, so that looks quite easy to achieve, especially since they are allowed 12 -14 minutes between Stockport and Manchester, even when not calling at Heaton Chapel or Levenshulme. The traditional timing for this is 8 minutes. Also, trains from Buxton can often be seen today arriving two or three minutes early at Hazel Grove.

It seems that on their own initiative, Northern have decided to reduce this to 52 minutes in 2018 by not stopping most Buxton at Woodsmoor or Davenport, even then failing to produce the promised saving of 'between 7 and 10 minutes.'

Uphill, today's trains call additionally at Levenshulme and  Heaton Chapel and are allowed just 59 minutes  for the journey including some long and steep uphill gradients, again with most serving Davenport and Woodsmoor; a tribute to the abilities of our ageing rolling stock. The real-time records on the 'real time trains' database show that trains can depart three minutes late from Stockport (all to common) and still arrive at Buxton on time.

 In the proposed 2018 timetable, most uphill trains do call at our stations, and are actually given more time between Manchester and Buxton, taking 61 minutes or more.

So amid all the controversy, very little will actually be achieved for residents of stations beyond Hazel Grove by the proposals, except perhaps for the residents of New Mills, who will additionally have two trains per hour to Manchester from Central station. Residents of Disley lose most of their services to Buxton. The requirement of four trains per hour at Hazel Grove has so far been ignored by Northern who are offering only three, two of which arrive at Manchester just a couple of minutes apart.

02 August 2017

Business changes

It's a sign of the times that despite a campaign by the staff, our last bank branch, Royal Bank of Scotland, closed its doors for good on 21 July, although the cash machine is still in operation at the time of writing. Their leaflet explaining the decision tells us that although 85 customers were still using the branch on a regular basis, the number of transactions at Davenport branch has dropped by 24% since 2011. 53% of customers at the branch are, they tell us, active Digital Banking users. The rest, and customers needing a personal services will need to travel to Cheadle Hulme, Hazel Grove (the branch at 205 London Road is opposite the end of Hatherlow Lane which leads down from the station) or Stockport Great Underbank. Oddly, they do not mention the Bramhall branch, which is by far the easiest to reach by a simple journey on the 378 bus.

We are working on a historical feature about this business, which began trading here in the 1920s.

Also departing Davenport, but possibly not to be greatly missed is the branch of House Estate Agents (ex-Hesketh Nichols) at 183 Bramhall Lane. This won't be another empty shop, though, because it has already been taken over as a wedding shop, which was being fitted out as we passed on 23 July and promises a Grand Opening on 29 July.

Another casualty is the Davenport Park Hotel on the A6 which is boarded up, and will continue to exist in a ghostly form on numerous web pages.

We should perhaps also mention here the Stockport Heritage Magazine: the current issue is the last, as the proprietor retires. It will be missed.

25 July 2017

Timetable Problems

We have collected relevant documents and links about the Timetable Consultation exercise on a separate web page: the consultation officially finished on 7 July, when the Community Rail Officer, Stephen Forde, sent the combined response from South East Manchester user groups to Northern Railway's Stakeholder Manager.

Very many people are unhappy about the proposed service at Davenport and Woodsmoor for May 2018, and and made their feelings felt in every possible way, including an online petition which has 664 signatures at the time of writing. The more we study the proposals, which are linked from our 'problem page', the more nonsense we find.

Strongly-worded letters have been sent to Northern Railway by Friends of Davenport and Woodsmoor stations, Davenport's Councillors, Stockport Council, Ann Coffey MP and the Head of Aquinas College whose students use the train from High Peak stations to Davenport. All we can do for now is to wait for some sort of action from Northern.
updated 24 July 2017

Strike timetables

Northern have published a set of timetables for the trains they feel able to run during the three-day strike by their train conductors from 8-10 July. They can be found on this link. Basically it's an hourly service Between Manchester and Buxton, starting late and finishing early, with an added Hazel Grove - Manchester service on Monday. On Saturday and Monday, all Buxton trains will call at Middlewood, but irritatingly, on Sunday, the most likely day for Middlewood to receive leisure passengers, trains will call there only every two hours as on a normal Sunday.  We understand that Northern have been training members of their management staff to act as conductors in order to provide a service.

Northern's view is that 'This franchise is about modernising Northern, not de-staffing the railway; in the last 12 months we have recruited hundreds more people and for existing conductors we are prepared to guarantee a role, protect pay, and offer future, annual pay reviews, if we can agree a deal with RMT.' However, their best proposal is 'not acceptable to RMT because Northern is not able to guarantee a second person on every single train in future.'

Sadly, we have to say that the performance of the new Franchise so far, with its huge off-peak fare increases, conductor strikes and useless 2018 timetable proposals, is not endearing them to their loyal passengers. All these things are, of course, largely the result of Government edicts. In effect, we still have a nationalised railway, with the British government deciding the service ... and the German government running the trains.

6 July 2017

Wayfarer Woes (etc)

A scantily-published fares change from from 21 May is that the 'Senior Citizen' version of Greater Manchester Wayfarer day ranger tickets, ideal for exploring by rail, bus or tram a wide area including the Peak District as well as Greater Manchester and part of Cheshire, which have increased in price from £6 to £8, now only to to be sold to holders of an English National Concessionary Bus Travel Scheme 'bus pass'. Previously the reduced price ticket was available to anyone over 60 on proof of age. It is apparently claimed that it was being misused for non-leisure journeys, but it is not valid in the morning peak, so this does seem unlikely,

People visiting from Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, as well as visitors from countries outside the UK, and Greater Manchester locals aged 60 - 63, must be sold the £13 adult ticket or the equivalent group and child versions where appropriate. See the TfGM website.

The Wayfarer is the only local go-as-you-please day ticket that is valid for rail journeys within Greater Manchester journeys starting in the evening peak from 16:01 to 18:29: the Rail Day Ranger £6.40), the Rail/Bus Day Saver (£6.90), the Rail/Tram Day Saver (£8.20) and the Rail/Tram/Bus Day Saver (£8.90) cannot be used for train travel within those times. (All are only valid by train and tram after 09:30, and all bus travel can be any time. However, they are cheaper than the Adult Wayfarer if all your journeys will be at allowed times and within Greater Manchester.

There is no 'Anytime' version of any of these tickets, which is a great anomaly. If you buy a Rail/Tram/Bus Day Saver, say, and find that for some reason you are delayed and need to get home from Manchester after the 16:01 cut-off, what 'excess' fare do I need to pay?

Speaking of Metrolink, a quirk of the recent fare increases is that through tickets to Metrolink destinations have not been increased, so for example an off-peak return from Davenport to Manchester is now £5, to MediaCityUK (Zone H) or Stretford (Zone E) is only £5.50.  The 'anytime' ticket is £7.50. The 16:01 to 18:29 restriction applied to when you board the train, not the tram.
29 June 2017

RMT plan three-day strike

The RMT union has announced a three-day strike by Northern train conductors, on 8-10 July, justified by a long rant on the RMT website. Arriva Rail North, operators of the Northern franchise, are accused of 'sheer intransigence' but that's not surprising since the requirement to run 50% of services with Driver-Only operation was included in the Department for Transport Franchise Agreement which they have signed in return for the amount of Government Subsidy on offer. Such clauses were also included in the contracts for the Merseyrail and Southern companies, on which strikes are still ongoing. So unless the DfT relax their conditions, it's stalemate.  Meanwhile, Northern managers have been receiving training to act as conductors.

Safety is continually cited as the reason for the RMT action, but the problem with this is that accidents involving passengers getting on and off trains are so rare now that most trains have doors interlocked with the train power, and occur with both driver-only trains and those with guards. So accurate statistical proofs are a matter for constant argument. Passengers will surely feel safer with a Conductor looking after them, but is it an expensive luxury for the taxpayer to fund? Who knows.
22 June 2017

Archive from 1994: but the problem's coming back again (in reverse) in 2018!
21 June 2017

25 May Update

Passengers will need to check their train times at the moment, as problems following the closure of Manchester Victoria station mean that several of our Hazel Grove - Blackpool services are not operating.

A tiny bit of better news: the conductors' strike threatened for 30 May will now not take place.

25 May 2017

Changes from 21 May

The Summer timetable came into operation on 21 May: There seem to be few changes to train  times on the Buxton line, but we would recommend checking your train on the Northern website. The same day also saw another leap in Off-peak fares: an off-peak day return to Manchester is now £5.  'Anytime' day return remains £5.90 and, while the only single ticket available is the Anytime Day single at £3.70. A seven-day season ticket is £21.70, less than the cost of four 'anytime' return tickets, or five 'off-peak'.

Another Northern conductor strike is planned for Tuesday 30 May so that staff get an extra long holiday weekend. Read the RMT Union's view and Northern's response.

On the subject of the May 2018 timetable (see below) considerable correspondence has taken place between Friends of Woodsmoor and Davenport stations and Northern Railway managers, and a response is in preparation. Thanks to everyone who has emailed with their own comments, which will be incorporated into the response document. More comments are welcome, particularly from those who see Davenport as a destination (students, for example) rather than a home station.

21 May 2017

Spring is here

Fares shock (3)

Yet another increase in local Off-peak fares will be applied from 21 May: The off-peak return from Davenport to Manchester will increase to £5.00, compared to £3.50 in Summer 2016.  The 'Anytime Fare' remains at £5.90; the policy is (we understand) to bring off-peak return fares to the same discount rate as has been normal outside Greater Manchester. There will also be some increases in the price of 'Wayfarer' tickets and Day Ranger tickets.

While on the subject, it seems that some holders of Greater Manchester concession cards believe they cannot travel free by train within Greater Manchester in the Mon-Fri 16:01 to 18:29 'Evening Peak.' This is not the case: only travel in the Mon-Fri pre-09:30 morning period requires you to buy a ticket.
06 May 2017

Timetable consultation worries

We have received a copy of the 'Stakeholder Consultation' proposed timetable for Northern trains from May 2018, which we find quite disconcerting, as - despite promised to improved services in the new franchise - Davenport and Woodsmoor users will find their journey opportunities much reduced, as although there are extra trains shown, it is proposed that many of them should not stop here, and of those that do, departures to Manchester will no longer be evenly spaced within each hour.  How anyone can think these changes are an improvement, we cannot imagine. We have prepared a summary of the changes which can be downloaded here.
06 May 2017

Refurbished trains

Northern trains have started to appear in the chosen new livery of white with blue ends and various coloured blobs, signifying that they have been given the 'refurbishment' promised in the franchise award.   We recently found ourselves in the first refurnished example of the 'Class 150' trains which run many of our services, and had a chance to check out the interior. Unfortunately for anyone larger or wider than average, the cramped '3+2' seating has been retained, with new upholstery and a general clean-up inside. Facilities for the disabled have been improved, including a new toilet and information displays, but these will be of little benefit to users at Davenport, as the station platforms are not accessible.
06 May 2017

Bus service change

Travellers to the Handforth and Wilmslow areas should note that the 378 bus service from Stockport via Davenport no longer continues beyond  Greater Manchester to Handforth and Wilmslow. All journeys now terminate at Grove Lane. Travel by train, with a change at Stockport, is quite feasible; the connection times are mostly quite convenient and the fares not too expensive (off-peak tickets are valid in the evening peak for these journeys). Concession card holders need tickets only from Cheadle Hulme - such tickets can be bought from Davenport station.
06 May 2017

Another strike

The RMT Union has called another strike of Northern Rail staff, again on a date chosen to cause maximum inconvenience to passengers, Friday 28 April, the day before the Bank Holiday weekend. No doubt there will be the skeleton daytime service that we have seen before.

At the risk of offending our friends on the railway, we really must question the purpose of this action. The new Northern Railway management seem to have no idea yet how they are going to meet the Department of Transport's requirement to run 50% of trains under the control of the driver only, and when they do actually have an idea, there will be many changes and modifications to (existing) trains, stations, and signalling needed - and who will assist disabled people at un-staffed stations? There's no practical possibility that Metrolink-style gap-free boarding can be applied to 'heavy rail' lines.

The RMT's position is that the fight is 'all about safety' and not jobs, and a guard -  a conscientious one at least - on the train has a value, and most passengers are, we feel, happy with the current situation, except perhaps when they are trapped on the train while he finishes selling a ticket and returns to the back to open the doors, or doesn't bother to come round causing you to join a queue on arrival. The Government says it costs too much money and driver-only trains have been running in the London area for years.

Meanwhile, the guards lose a day's pay, and the Company loses nothing in the short term, as the Government has promised to underwrite any financial loss due to strikes related to this subject.
21 April 2017

Engineering work, Easter Weekend

Network Rail are working on the line over the Easter Holidays: 'Structures and level crossing improvements' apparently. (Will they take the chance to revove the fallen tree from the roof of our waiting room, we wonder. [Update - No.]) All trains are replaced by buses between Stockport and Buxton on Sunday 16 April and between Hazel Grove and Buxton on Monday 17 April. The timetable is on the Northern website.

Buses on Sunday will pick up / set down at the bus stops at Cale Green Park gates and the stop across the road from there.  Passengers should note that at Woodsmoor the buses call at a stop on Bramhall Lane and at Middlewood the at a stop on the main A6 road near the junction of Middlewood Road.  Bikes are not carried.

There are also engineering works elsewhere, notably around Manchester Viictoria, where work continues to complete the 'Ordsall Chord.'
14 April 2017

TfGM bids to run stations

Plans to 'put passengers first and transform Greater Manchester’s local rail stations into community hubs'  have been unveiled by Transport for Greater Manchester.
TfGM has submitted its ‘Case for Change’ to the Department for Transport, in a bid to secure a multi-million pound investment and regional accountability by bringing Greater Manchester’s rail stations under local control. The submission has been made on behalf of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), in line with the 2014 devolution agreement and 2040 strategic vision for transport to drive economic growth and regeneration.

The detailed business case recommends the wholesale transfer of station ownership and management from Network Rail and train operators to Greater Manchester as the best solution to help stations realise their full potential.

Fuller information on the TfGM website. A similar arrangement already exists on Merseyside, but the network there is much more self-contained than ours.
28 March 2017

Strike news

The RMT union (which represents train conductors) has called a 24-hour strike on Northern Railway for Monday 13 March, in protest against the proposed introduction of driver-only operation on some services, which was part of the requirement of the Department of Transport when the new franchise agreement was signed with Arriva. It seems likely that this will go ahead, especially since the DfT are so keen to bring in the new way of working that they are willing to underwrite financial losses by the company due to any industrial action.

Northern intend to run a basic service on some lines, and bus replacements on others: the have set up a page on their website with links to the planned timetables for the day. In the case of our line, this consists of an hourly service between Buxton and Manchester between starting late and finishing early. (Read what RMT say about this 'scab timetable'.)

There also will be fairly frequent trains available all day between Stockport and Manchester, run by other companies (Virgin, etc.) The strike also applies to the Merseyrail company in the Liverpool area, where new trains designed for driver-only working have just been ordered.

The guards say that the proposed change will be unsafe, as the driver will not be able to ensure people's safety before closing the doors and starting the train. Northern say they haven't even started planning how this will work, as it's not due to start for some years and lots of extra equipment (mirrors, cameras?) will be provided at stations. Ticket-sellers would be provided on train when necessary.

What do we think? We think that rail strikes are a terrible idea, as they do nothing to encourage people to use the train, which is the point of this website. On the other hand, the current system where the conductor is expected to work the doors and also sell tickets does not work well. An ideal procedure (from the passengers viewpoint) would seem to be that to reduce delays the driver can release the door locks at a station, but the conductor is in charge of closing them. But the RMT say this is the thin end of the wedge, and the Bureaucrats DfT are desperate to save money on subsidy.

Disabled passengers are likely to lose some of their flexibility to make ad hoc journeys, as there will be nobody to deploy the ramp, even if a station (unlike Davenport) has step-free access, lifts, etc. The driver is not really in a position to help in such matters. 

10 March 2017

Up on the roof

'Storm Doris' on 23 February brought down a large part of the horse-chestnut tree in the garden of Davenport Lodge on to the roof of the station waiting-room, which fortunately does not appear to have been damaged, but removing the tree could be tricky.
07 March 2017

New local history article

We have uploaded a new feature to our local history section: 'Tasmania Cottage and its Neighbours' in which we try to trace the history of some buildings in the historic Adswood Lane West area, including the (recently closed) Adswood Hotel, and try to explain why some buildings are named for places in Tasmania.  Some of the answers have eduded us: any comments or elucidation would be particularly welcome.
07 March 2017

Looking ahead

A short summary of the progress of the new Northern company's plans may be in order. The change of franchise last year was accompanied by a requirement to acquire more trains, new and second-hand, to introduce a new, improved, timetable. The first stage of this was to commence in December 2017. However, the fleet increase by that date depended on the completion of the electrification work on the Great Western line out of London, releasing some 1980s-built Class 150 diesel railcars to add to the Northern fleet, as well as the completion of the Manchester - Blackpool electrification which would allow second-hand electric trains transferred from the London area to work Blackpool services.

However, it's clear that those projects are not running smoothly, so Northern management have taken the decision to delay the major timetable changes until May 2018. There is still no detail available about how the franchise requirements are to be accomplished; from the skeletal information available, there are few timetable improvements likely at Davenport and Woodsmoor stations, although we can hopefully expect to see Class 319 electric trains on services terminating at Hazel Grove. Possibly we might even see them running to Buxton as well, as the owners of the 319s, leasing company Porterbrook, have hatched to plan to fit some of them with diesel-powered generators to become allow them to continue beyond the electric wires. This is known as the '319 flex' project.

Update: We wondered whether such a set-up would manage the hills to Buxton, but an informed reader writes to tell us that our line was actually a parameter in the design, and that 'the trains are designed around the 1-in-60 climb up to Buxton after a United-City Derby.'  Good news.

Brand new trains are on order, but these are likely to be used on long-distance 'express' services, leaving the old 1980s stock, refurbished internally, to soldier on in to the uncertain future. What Northern will not tell us is whether anything will be done about the cramped narrow 3+2 seating layout of the Class 150 units (and indeed also the 'new' 319s)  which many people cannot sit in without coming into contact with the adjacent passenger. Trains of this type used by Arriva Trains Wales have been re-fitted with 2+2 seating, a great improvement.

The Government's requirements for the new franchise also require at least 50% of services to be converted by 2019 to 'driver-only operation' - the driver being in full charge of the train including the opening and closing of the doors. A conductor would sell tickets and look after passengers, but a train could still run if a conductor was not available. This has, predictably, led to threats of industrial action by the conductors' union, the RMT, starting with a 24-hour strike on 13 March.

As for stations, we understand that Transport for Greater Manchester have ambitions to take over the leases on station buildings within Greater Manchester from Northern, by analogy to what has been done in Merseyside. Why this would be an improvement, we are not sure.

01 March 2017

Steam through Davenport

A steam-hauled excursion passed through Davenport on 25 February, heading to Buxton via Hazel Grove and Chinley.
25 February 2017

It's pleasing to see that the Council have laid some improved footpaths across the green between Kennerley Road and Davenport Park; it's now possible to reach the seats without wallowing in mud. The path leading to the Davenport Park houses was partly funded by the Davenport Park Committee; the one past the seats was (it is rumoured) laid by the contractors due to a misunderstanding.
Update 7 March 2017

St George's Vicarage - saved?

The following message is from John Fidler, organiser of the petition reported below:

As of 17:15 on, Monday 30th January 2017, the online and hard copy petition  signatures to save St. George's Vicarage, Stockport totalled 502 - a fewmore  than when we submitted the petition to Stockport Council earlier that afternoon. 

We just received good news that the architect-developers, Purcell, and their  client, the Chester Diocesan Board of Education, have withdrawn their demolition  application today (as our petition suggested) before Stockport Council could determine the case.

Objections to demolition had been received from Historic England, the Victorian  Society and the Ancient Monuments Society, besides, in this petition:275 concerned Stockport citizens (55% of all petitioners) of whom well over half live near to or regularly pass by the Vicarage site;
47 neighbouring Mancunians;
At least nine eminent architectural historians expert in Victorian and Edwardian architecture;
20 prominent architects and conservation officers;
Numerous members of the Victorian Society nationwide (from Lerwick in the Shetlands to St. Helier in Jersey; and
The Stockport diaspora, including renowned authoress and media star, Baroness Joan Bakewell.
The Stockport Heritage and Building Preservation Trusts have asked Stockport Council to intervene now and call a meeting with the  architect-developers and the Diocese to discuss appropriate and sufficient enabling development to repair and restore the Vicarage. Or suffer the service  of a Repairs Notice to stem the awful longstanding neglect of the listed building.

31 January 2017

Steam specials

There was a steam-hauled excursion run by the Railway Touring company advertised to pass through Davenport on Saturday 4 February. However, it has been cancelled due to insufficient bookings. There's another planned for Saturday 28th February using locos 76084 and 45690: Preston - Stockport - Buxton - Burnley - Preston - Manchester. Will that one run? Who can say. Information and booking via the Railway Touring Company website. The cheapest adult ticket is £99, which rises to £249 should you wish to enjoy the full meals service. Perhaps the lack of bookings for the earlier tour is not so surprising?

Further afield, there is to be a very interesting experiment on the line from Leeds to Appleby over three days, 14 - 16 February: the normal Northern Railway train service, with added extras, will be worked between Skipton and Appleby by a seven-coach train hauled by new-build steam loco 60163 Tornado, with normal Northern Rail tickets valid in three of carriages, although no standing will be allowed. Tickets for the other four carriages are now available by only pre-booking. Full details are on the Northern website.
30 January 2017

St George's Vicarage

A planning application (No. 64183  on the Council database)  has been made by developer Purcell to demolish the listed, but derelict, Vicarage by St George's Church and replace it by two rows of 'Arts and Crafts' houses inspired, according to the archirects, by Letchworth Garden City and Port Sunlight. The picture above is the view from Bramhall Lane, from their 'Design and Access Statement.'

Nice, isn't it. We are not sure. There is an online petition which you may possibly wish to sign, proposing that the vicarage be retained and rebuilt as part of a housing development. Oddly, it is man living in Amercia who has cared enough to raise this petition. Some might be moved to think that the owners of the building have been negligent in allowing it to get in the the present state, even though they claim to have spent over £200,000 on security measures. Other developers have looked and the place and been refused their plans or walked away; one thing is sure, it should not remain as it is.

24 January 2017

New local history feature

We have compiled for our local history section a short history of Davenport's Post Office on Bramhall Lane, which has been serving the community in the same building for over 110 years, with some history if its near neiggbours. As always, comments and corrections are welcome at info@davenportstation.org.uk. In particular, does anyone recall shopping at John Williams & Sons grocery (now Spar) in the 1960s?

5 January 2017

More for your money

It's not just the fares that have increased - so has the size of tickets issued by train conductors - a return ticket is now 15 inches long!

Fares shock (2)

Annoyingly, Northern Railway's off-peak fares within Greater Manchester, already increased in September 2016, were hiked up again from 2 January, meaning that an Off-peak return to Manchester has risen from £3.50 to £4.50 since summer 2016, on top of the evening peak restrictions imposed in 2014.  Northern say that this is to 'bring them into line with other areas.' This will mean that if you are travelling to Manchester and back five times (or more) in a week, even if all your travel is off-peak times, it will be cheaper to buy a Weekly Season ticket. 

02 January 2017