Back to Davenport station main page

We've made this separate page for documents and options relating to Northern's planned May 2018 timetable, a 'consultation' version of which was issued to stakeholders in May 2017.

This 'improved' timetable was originally intended to begin in December 2016, but delays in electrification work elsewhere in the UK delayed the transfer of the extra trains required.

Unfortunately, for Davenport and Woodsmoor users this proposal offered fewer trains and more inconvenient timetables.

Here will will try to track the progress of the consultation.


TfGM Report July 2017

Labour Party petition

Community Rail Response

Letter to Northern from Stockport MBC.

Positive suggestions, jointly by Friends of Davenport and Woodsmoor

Download Woodsmoor's response to the Consultation

Stakeholder briefing document from 2015

Davenport and Woodsmoor passengers Facebook group

Online petition on the 38 Degrees website

Andy Stobbie of Friends of Woodsmoor Station has (a brave effort) prepared an extract of the full consultation timetable showing the full Buxton line service as proposed. We have uploaded a copy (PDF) which can be found at this link.

If you want the full consultation timetable,  Here it is (PDF)

The full Franchise Agreement on the Dft Website

Download our response to the consultation.

Northern's web page for Davenport includes links to the current timetable.

Some extracts from emails from respondents

“I object strongly to the reduced service. I often travel on the 07.53 or the 08.04, this will have a huge impact on my daily routine, it will also have a huge impact on my child care.”

“I travel weekly from Woodsmoor to Oxford Road and would be greatly inconvenienced if the proposals are accurate and implemented. I currently catch the 06:52 from Woodsmoor to get to work. Although I occasionally catch the 06.38, it really is too early for me although a service which stops at Oxford Road. The two new proposed times of 06.26 and 07.12 are either too early or late. I have been travelling by train now for some years and have very recently seen a sharp increase to the number of commuters using both Woodsmoor and Davenport Stations, during this time period and in my experience there are good numbers using the three services that will change under the proposal. (06.38, 06.52 and 07.02)”

“I use the train to start work at 8.30 a.m. and travel daily from Woodsmoor to Manchester. I currently have the option of two trains 7.53 or 8.04 but the proposed 2018 timetable leaves me
only one option at 7.27. This is almost half an hour earlier than I would wish to travel with no later option that would get me to work on time. This is a greatly reduced level of service provision for which I am sure there will be no corresponding reduction in fare.”

“My wife and I often use the train, sometimes with our bikes, to visit the Middlewood Way and Lyme Park. This facility is one of the best things for us about Davenport, and the proposals
make leisure journeys much more difficult.”

“I am contacting you regarding the proposed changes in frequency of trains from Davenport to Manchester and also the change in route (not running to Oxford Road etc.). This will cause me a
lot of problems as I work in Manchester and to be honest was one of the main reasons behind me buying my house where I have done. Do you have the detail/guidance of where I can
escalate my concerns or are you aware of any petitions which I can sign?”

“I'm very concerned about this and would be severely affected, so want to voice my concerns directly as I want to know what surveys they have conducted about the use of both Davenport
and Woodsmoor (they clearly haven't performed any and I don't feel that they've considered all users of the Buxton line). In addition personally it doesn't suit my working times, not all people can start work at 8am or 9am.....this isn't the 1950s!”

“Just to add my voice to the probably obvious dispute in relation to the reduced timetable at Davenport Station which is already poor. Also the trains are ancient and severely overcrowded, particularly at 7:55 / 8:06 every morning, so reducing the trains at morning commuter times will only make this even worse.”

"Suffering from a rare type of chronic auto inflammatory arthritis I rely on the services of Stockport NHS Foundation Trust at Stepping Hill Hospital on a monthly basis. Due to a combination of being left unable to drive as a result of the condition and also car parking issues
I have to rely on train service to  Woodsmoor station sometimes at very short notice to attend the hospital just to meet my every day needs. These proposals genuinely concern me and could impact on my ability to maintain my everyday life."

"I deliberately bought a house in 2012 that was close to Woodsmoor Station precisely so that I could avoid adding to road congestion and driving in to Manchester. I work at the University
so the ability to travel to Oxford Road is important to me. I see every day the numbers of people who use both Davenport and Woodsmoor stations (I vary the trains I get between the 0755 and 0806 and I rarely get a seat on either) and the same applies coming home in the evening on either the 1723 or 1749."

"Davenport is a very busy station in the morning and it is often hard to find seats on the peak trains. As such, any reduction to these services would be extremely disappointing, especially at
a time when the government should be encouraging greater use of public transport due to concerns over vehicle emissions on the roads."

"I should like to express my dismay on hearing this news, as I travel into Manchester every day. This is experience is not generally a good one, with overcrowded trains and frequent delays
and cancellations. To cut the number of trains at peak times will only exacerbate these problems, and with fares rising year on year, consumers are not receiving value for money."

"To get to a city centre office for 9, the 7.55 and 8.06 services are essential. Given the 7.55 is usually full such that I often have to not get on and take the 8.06, I cannot believe there is any
public service let alone commercial rational for removing both and replacing them with a single, later train at 8.13 which will not allow me to get to the Spinningfields before 9am."

“It seems ridiculous that in the proposed timings the off-peak trains from Buxton, which miss Woodsmoor and Davenport, call at Hazel Grove after the all-stations stopping train from Hazel Grove to Manchester has left, and then catch it up, arriving at Piccadilly just two minutes after the stopping train has arrived there.”

“Davenport station serves a number of educational establishments including Aquinas College and Stockport Grammar. Aquinas in particular provides catholic sixth form provision for the Buxton area so this rail line is an important transport route from its core catchment area to
Davenport. Hulme Hall School is about to move into the old Hillcrest site on Beech Road. As private schools tend to draw their pupils from a wider area than state ones we need more public transport, not less. The Buxton to Manchester rail line follows the route of the A6 which
is a very congested and polluted route which is totally unsuitable to take more traffic displaced from an inadequate train service.”

“Why can't we keep the present timetable?”

The May 2018 Timetable and Davenport

Contents: TfGM Committee Report | SEMCRP submission | Stockport MBC response | Stockport Labour Response | More from Ann Coffey MP | 2015 Briefing | Another letter from Northern | Hold the Front Page! | Online petition | Community Rail Meeting | Day in the life | Mary Robinson MP | Facebook Group | TSR explanation | Ann Coffey MP | Councillors | Cllr Kate Butler | Text of our Response | Letter from 2016

Update: the Consultation period ended on 7 July 2017.

Download BBC Radio Manchester item featuring Davenport Campaigner Chris Hunt (mp3 file)


Here is a final summary of the many deficiencies of the weekday 'Consultation Timetable' issued to stakeholders, from the point of view of Davenport (and Woodsmoor) passengers. Times given below are for Davenport. Northern have said they will make some changes, but details are not yet known. The following is not necessarily in order of priority.

1. A fixed pattern of two trains per hour throughout the day, with no peak time extras as provided currently; even now, with extra services, many trains are overcrowded.

2. Uneven intervals, especially of trains towards Manchester: departures at xx:15 and xx:29 then a 46-minute gap each hour. Currently the pattern is xx:08 and xx:40. Return from Piccadilly is at xx:24 and xx:46 which is slightly better but not ideal (currently xx:21 and xx:49).

3. Particularly absurd: No service to Manchester between 08:29 and 09:29, then 10:15 which will be the first train of the day on which off-peak tickets are valid. (The last departure from Davenport before the evening peak fare period will be at 15:29).

4. All trains will arrive and depart from Manchester Piccadilly only. Currently many continue beyond to Oxford Road, Deansgate, Salford Crescent and beyond. Many local residents work or study at the Universities reached those stations, and may well have chose to live here for the convenient train service. In addition,  Deansgate is now the only single connecting point between trains and Metrolink trams towards Chorlton, Didsbury, Manchester Airport, Oldham and Rochdale, as these trams do not serve Piccadilly.

5. Unbalanced skipping of stops: greatly reduced to Davenport or Woodsmoor from Buxton or other stations beyond New Mills. Direct departures from Buxton to Davenport only at: 06:33, 07:33, 16:36, 17:35 and 22:58 with no sensible connection (over 30 minutes) at Hazel Grove. Very serious for staff, day patients and visitors to Stepping Hill Hospital, students and staff of several schools and colleges, and leisure visitors to the Peak District. Trains to Middlewood and Disley only at 07:07, 09:07, 18:07 (not Middlewood) and 19:07.

TfGM Committee report

A report written by Transport for Greater Manchester Rail Services Development Officer Owain Roberts for the meeting of the TfGM Committee outlines the various changes proposed by the Northern and TransPennine companies for May 2018. Mr Roberts covers our issues at Davenport and Woodsmoor in some detail:
We are concerned that proposals for this route fall some way short of what was proposed in the TSR [Train Service Requirement] and in the case of many of the smaller stations appears to provide a worse service that what is provided today. Woodsmoor, Davenport, Heaton Chapel and Levenshulme appear to show a reduction of services in the height of the AM and PM peaks compared to the current timetable although we understand from Northern that this is to some extent a programming error which will be rectified to ensure TSR compliance in due course. However, this will still leave the corridor short of the number of services it receives during the height of the peak today.

We have noted with some concern the uneven service intervals at all four of the stations highlighted, in particular Davenport and Woodsmoor where the 2 trains per hour are as little as 14 minutes apart. The irregular service patterns are also of concern and will make some journeys more difficult than today – for example the Buxton service calls at most stations on its outbound (from Piccadilly) journey with the New Mills Newtown train running semi fast. Roles are reversed on the inbound journey with the Buxton service running semi-fast and the New Mills Newtown calling at all stations. We believe that some of these compromises have had to be
made due to the non-TSR compliance regarding providing 4tph to Hazel Grove and request that all partners work together to receive a satisfactory outcome regarding this.
He also refers to the matter of trains to Oxford Road and beyond in the section about the Macclesfield line, in terms of service reliability:
We are concerned regarding the potential PPM [Public Performance Measure]  impact of the proposed Blackpool North-Macclesfield service since the current cross Manchester Buxton/Hazel Grove-Blackpool North service already demonstrates some of the worst performance of any of Northern’s service groups. We would therefore like to understand what the implications would be for services in South Manchester to be replanned to switch the Blackpool linkage to Hazel Grove rather than Macclesfield (but still retaining the extra Macclesfield-Manchester service).
He repeats the same concern in the section about Alderley Edge - Airport - Manchester services.Clearly there will need to be further discussions between the TfGM Committee and Northern, but time is getting short for major alterations. The Committee page on which the minutes may be published is here.

It's clear from the report that our line is not the only one with unsatisfactory services. For example it is proposed to run a service to Alderley Edge which will wait for 14 minutes at Manchester Airport en route.
Top  16 July 2017

From the Archives

In our archive is a copy of a report published in 2008 by the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority entitled 'Rail Issues Update'. It refers to the five-yearly 'Periodic Review' of work to be done by infrastructure company Network Rail, which was submitted to the Government's Office of Rail Regulation (ORR)  in advance of the next five-year cycle starting in 2009.

Included was an item 'Manchester – Buxton Journey Time Reductions and Frequency Enhancements' which had been costed at £5 million, later revised to £15 million ... and then deleted by the ORR from the programme, apparently never to be revived.

The work involved is not itemised, but there's no doubt that it involved infrastructure improvements, not a scheme to miss out stops at busy stations; that is not a Network Rail issue. The PTA's disappointed response was that 'The proposals on the Buxton line would have enabled more passenger and freight trains to use the line with relative ease.'

Our recollection is that the plan involved track improvements and re-instatement of signalling, perhaps at Disley, to allow more trains be be on the line at once.

Even adjusted to 2017 prices, this seems a bargain compared to £160 million (or probably more) for the A6 to Airport Road currently being built.

In 2015, a Network Rail publication Delivering a better railway for a better Britain: Route Specifications 2015 proposed an increase in the maximum speed allowed on the Buxton line from 60 mph to 75 mph by 2019.  This too has fallen by the wayside as far as we know, although the new bridge over the above-mentioned road has been specified for 75 mph running.

Top  09 July 2017

Labour petition and Heaton Chapel

Stockport Labour Party (rather belatedly) have created their own petition about cuts to services, which covers Heaton Chapel as well as Davenport and Woodsmoor. Heaton Chapel (and Levenshulme) four trains per hour to Manchester off-peak, with trains from Chester, Crewe, Alderley Edge and Hazel Grove calling at reasonably even spacing.  The 'consultation' timetable has calls by just three trains to Manchester per hour, from Macclesfield at xx.17, Hazel Grove at xx:24, New Mills at xx:43 with many others passing by non-stop. Heaton Chapel is a busier station than Davenport and Woodsmoor put together, with over 750,000 passengers per year according to official figures.

One really does wonder about the competence of the people who compiled this timetable.

Top  09 July 2017

SEMCRP submssion

Our response has been included in a submission sent by the South-East Manchester Community Rail Officer to Northern, as required by Northern's deadline of 7 July.  The PDF document (less the responses from named individuals) can be downloaded here. We await further developments.

Top  06 July 2017

Letter to Northern from Stockport MBC

Stockport Council have sent a response to Northern, based largely on the Community Rail version. We have saved a PDF copy on this link.
Top  06 July 2017

Response from Stockport Labour Group

We ...  write to highlight our concerns over Northern Rail proposals on future Buxton- Manchester timetabling arrangements. These proposals would reduce the number of trains which stop at Davenport, Woodsmoor and Heaton Chapel stations during peak hours, and introduce an uneven service distribution pattern, both factors which will exacerbate overcrowding and reduce service standards for residents.

The proposals seek to reduce journey times between Buxton and Manchester. However, to achieve this they seek to reduce services stopping at Davenport, Woodsmoor stations during peak hours, from nine trains between 7.00am and 10.00am down to seven. Alongside this, the proposed distribution of services would change from regular to intermittent; with two trains 14 minutes apart in the hour followed by a long (circa 45 minute) wait instead of roughly half hour intervals.

These services are important for many travelling to and from Stepping Hill Hospital, Aquinas Sixth Form College, and a range of other local employers and Stockport Commuters. The effect of these proposals would be to see increasing passenger demand upon already overcrowded services. The latest ORR figures show that Davenport and Woodsmoor stations have a combined total footfall of well over 500k / annum. We have also seen evidence, gathered by the  Friends Of Davenport Station and Woodsmoor Friends Group, that passenger numbers at these stops has been increasing in recent years.

In light of this, our view is that Northern Rail should be examining options to increase service levels  (at least by volume, if not by frequency) to accommodate demand at these stops;  while ensuring regular service provision is maintained at times of high demand. If our
understanding is correct, these proposals appear to work against both these points and therefore appear both unworkable and at odds with the interests of residents.

While we are supportive of reducing journey times from Buxton to Manchester, we agree with Friends Of Davenport Station and Woodsmoor Friends Group, that reducing valued services is not the way to achieve this. These aims should be accomplished through the requisite
infrastructure investment, as opposed to cutting corners which will significantly impact people’s lives, many of whom choose to live where they do due to the availability of transport links.

We call upon the relevant parties to consider the above points, and revise these proposals so that they provide the services residents deserve. We look forward to working with you toward this outcome to your response to this letter.

Top  06 July 2017

The 2015 Stakeholder Briefing

The services now proposed date back to a 'Stakeholder Briefing Document' published in 2015: we have saved a copy on our server (4 MB PDF) for future reference. This discusses the results of a consultation held at that time, and lays down what the requirements for the new franchises will be. We responded to this with some concern at the time;  Stockport MBC and the Community Rail Officer also responded but we don't know what they said. It was not clear which station calls were to be omitted until the 'consultation timetable' appeared in May 2017.

There is a section in the 2015 document for the comments and responses received, including a section on 'Speeding-up the service for longer-distance passengers'.

Several respondents indicated that this should not be a priority, with comments
 'Speeding up long-distance services is not a priority for the passengers themselves, as the key priority is for reliable journeys.'

'A faster service for long distance travellers should be achieved by the addition of limited-stop services, rather than reducing the number of stops on existing services. The provision of a limited stop service between Buxton and Manchester, for example, would encourage more road users to switch to rail.'
The result of all this is reflected in the Document's proposal for our line:
Manchester-New Mills Newtown (and Buxton): There is currently one offpeak Northern train per hour on this route. There will be an additional offpeak stopping service every hour between Manchester and New Mills Newtown by December 2017. This extra service provides the opportunity to remove some calls from the existing service between Manchester and Buxton without reducing service frequency at those stations, allowing faster journeys for longer-distance passengers.

(Of course the new timetable has since been delayed until May 2018.)

From the above it is clear that the main function of the extra service from to New Mills is not to provide a more frequent service to any station, but to allow the Buxton train to have a shorter running time.  Completely forgotten is the need for travel between Davenport and Woodsmoor and stations beyond New Mills. Yet Northern have timetabled outbound Manchester - Buxton train to call at Davenport and Woodsmoor, and the Manchester - New Mills train to miss them. Perhaps they think Buxton people care less about how long it takes to get home? Or perhaps it is a pathing problem: the New Mills-bound train will run just a few minutes ahead of a Trans-Pennine train bound for Cleethorpes. Who knows?

Mentioned nowhere in the 2015 document (that we can find) is a reduction in Peak services between our stations and Manchester, or removal of our through trains beyond Piccadilly.

Also missing from the consultation timetable is a fourth train each hour between Hazel Grove and Manchester, mentioned in the Franchise Agreement. It appears from comments elsewhere that this was a promise by Arriva North themselves, rather than a requirement by Rail North, and it has now been deemed impossible to find a path.

Top  30 June 2017

Another Letter from Northern

Matthew Worman of Northern recently wrote in response to a letter from a concerned passenger:

In terms of the consultation; it works on the basis of Northern sharing plans with both Transport for Greater Manchester (of which Stockport Council are represented) and the Community Rail Partnership (Stephen Forde) for feedback on.

Regarding wider points around analysis, this would have been undertaken holistically by both Rail North and Department for Transport when they specified the Train Service Requirement for the franchise. Furthermore, the Arriva bid team also factored this in.

Finalising the timetable for May 2018 is a fluid process as we try to factor in feedback on the consultation, and I know the Davenport / Woodsmoor 'issues' are being looked at in terms of exploring what else we could potentially work in for these stations. Nothing is set in stone yet though and in the context of comparing like for like with what is in place now versus the future offering isn't always feasible given that the May 2018 timetable is effectively a major
recast of our service structure.

The new timetable will, undoubtedly, see a significant uplift in services across the regional network compared to now. There will of course be changes all over the network as part of the May '18 work, but the positives per se will massively outweigh the more challenging tweaks, such as what you’ve highlighted at Woodsmoor and Davenport. It's a complex timetable to deliver, not helped by the volume of services that we are having to squeeze onto routes.

Decisions have to be driven by the Train Service Requirement (TSR) ultimately, as a starting point at least anyway, and then see where we can go above and beyond based on infrastructure and the knock-on ripple effect of impacting on other services.

All of this will be discussed at the session I am hosting with Stephen Forde as part of the consultation, where we will get into the detail as to the operational challenges we encounter when trying to deliver new TSRs versus maintaining the status quo.

Top  30 June 2017

Hold the Front Page!

The inadequate proposals for future train services have made the local press, with Woodsmoor station and a group of campaigners featuring in an item in the Stockport Express. Read the web version. Note that 'rush hour' means 6am to 10am, and 'together .. used by over 250,000 people a year' could be clearer as 'each station is used by over 250,000 people a year' which is the official total of 'entrances and exits'.
Top  22 June 2017

Online Petition

Local resident Chris Hunt has set up an online petition on the 38 Degrees website against the proposed changes. 

Top  20 June 2017

Community Rail Meeting, 19 June

On 19 June, along with from Woodsmoor, we attended a meeting of the South-East Manchester Community Rail Partnership which also includes the Marple / Rose Hill / New Mills Central and Glossop lines as well as our line. Two representatives from Northern, Line Manager Simon Brooks and 'Community and Sustainability Manager' Carolyn Watson, were in attendance as well as Stephen Forde, Community Rail Officer. Unfortunately, there was nobody there from the timetabling department, but we were able to state our case as strongly as we could, pointing out that our users of our stations would suffer greatly in the proposals were implemented.  It was noticeable that people from other lines only raised problems about individual trains and times, whereas the offer to us is almost completely acceptable.

Oddly there was no mention of the fact that a few days earlier, a Northern manager had sent a letter to the local councillors who had complained on our behalf, explaining that errors were made in the Consultation document meaning that are not enough peak trains to meet the Government's original Train Service Requirement, and that work is being done to remedy (just) this.

It was said that we might be able to have a meeting with the Timetable Planners regarding the Davenport and Woodsmoor situation.  It would be interesting to hear how they possibly could have considered that their proposal would be acceptable.  Whether this will take place, and whether it will have any effect,  remains to be seen. Meanwhile, all our concerns will be reflected in an official response by Stephen Forde- by Northern's deadline of 7 July.  Stephen is actually employed by Stockport Council: he is fully in agreement with our points, and has drawn the situation to senior Council Officers, with accent on the likely increase in road traffic.

Top  20 June 2017

TfGM Committee Meeting

We are pleased to day that the consultation timetables were discussed at the 16 June meeting of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, and our concerns were raised. This document prepared for the committee refers.

This image is an extract from the document. Informally we have hear that the peak frequency issue might result from an 'error.' Note the important matters that Northern are not 'looking into.'

Top  16 June 2017

Woodsmoor's response

Woodsmoor Station Friends'  response to the Community Rail Officer can now be downloaded here (PDF).

Davenport's response is also available for download.
Top  16 June 2017

A Day in the Life

Most comments from passengers about the consultation have been generated by the lack of any extra trains in the morning peak period in addition to the basic half-hourly rhythm. Northern insist that the consultation timetable is just a 'first draft' and that they are investigating how extra trains can be provided. This short item, while in no way excusing the inadequate consultation proposal, aims to give an example of how things are currently arranged.

The proposal seems to be based on making the Manchester - Buxton service self-contained, as it largely was years ago when Buxton had its own train servicing depot, but the present service is the result of some quite complicated planning. Northern has one main servicing depot in the Manchester area, at Newton Heath, which is adjacent to the Manchester Victoria - Rochdale line, although some trains spend the night at Buxton station to form the first trains from there, and others 'stable' overnight in sidings at Wigan Wallgate, Blackpool, Stockport and Virgin's Longsight depot.

At 04:36 each weekday morning, an empty train - cleaned, and with enough fuel for the day - formed of four 2-car units, sets off from Newton Heath depot, and runs via the non-passenger line from Philips Park to Ashburys, then to Guide Bridge where it reverses and runs via Gorton into Piccadilly station, Platform 9, arriving at 05:19. There it is divided to form the 06:21 to Hazel Grove and the 06:49 to Buxton.  The 06:21 to Hazel Grove returns as the 06:50 Hazel Grove - Manchester before spending the rest of the day shuttling between Manchester and Chester via Altrincham, until a final arrival at Manchester at 00:13 the next day, and a night spent at Virgin's Longsight depot.

The 06:49 from Buxton returns as the 8:27 to Manchester Piccadilly where it is attached in Platform 9 to the four-car 07:48 from Buxton to form a six-car 09:49 to Buxton, which will return later as the 14:29 to Manchester Piccadilly to take up evening peak services. The reason for the extravagant provision appears to be that Northern are not able to keep trains idle at Piccadilly station during the day. Back at Piccadilly, the two-car unit is detached to work the busy 15:49 to Buxton and the 17:02 Buxton - Blackpool (17:40 at Davenport).

The other four cars remaining in Platform 9 then become the 17:49 to Buxton, 19:30 return, 20:49 Piccadilly - Buxton and 22:57 return to Piccadilly before heading (empty) to Newton Heath depot via a reversal at Salford Crescent station.

The rolling stock for the 07:50 Hazel Grove to Manchester has come from Wigan Wallgate, and the 08:36 Hazel Grove to Blackpool has started from Newton Heath at 04:32 and run to Chester, then back as a passenger via Altrincham to Stockport (where passengers for Manchester have to get off and wait for a connection) and empty to Hazel Grove.

                                                                                         Top   16 June 2017

Mary Robinson MP

Mary Robinson, MP for the Cheadle constituency, which due to the very odd constituency boundary in our area includes Woodsmoor and the also the location of Davenport station itself, has been contacted by the Woodsmoor group. The reply from her aide reads:

'Thank you for your good wishes and your message with regards to the changes to train services at Woodsmoor and Davenport Station. This is an important issue for many residents and Mary has written to the Chief Executive of Northern Rail, to express herat [?] the proposed timetable changes, and highlighting your specific concerns. Mary will, of course, write to you again to update you as soon as she has had a response from Northern Rail.  Thank you again for your email, and if you have any further concerns please do not hesitate to get in touch.'

We note that Ms Robinson's website includes a 'Big Transport Survey' for constituents to give their views...

Top of Page     16 June 2017

Facebook Group

Andy Stobbie writes: we have now set up a Facebook group for Woodsmoor and Davenport passengers. It is a 'public' group so anyone [with a Facebook account] can view but if you want to join in you can send a member request. We will put the information up there on the timetable changes and the contacts to write to, to make your voice heard.

The timeline for responses is that Steve Forde, the Community Rail Officer at Stockport Council, has to respond to Northern Rail by 7th July which will include the 'official' response from the Friends' groups. Writing to your elected representatives early will hopefully prompt them to exert pressure where they can. Sending to representatives individually will be better than a 'Dear Sir' general email to multiple people.
Top of Page    11 June 2017

Train Service Requirement: an explanation

When a rail franchise is to be taken over by another company, the Department for Transport (in conjunction with a new body 'Rail North") specifies the minimum train service to be provided on each line. In our case, they have chosen to specify this as the number of trains in a given time band between each station and Manchester. This is known as the Train Service Requirement (TSR). The full document is here.

Community Rail Officer Stephen Forde  has prepared a table showing how the  TSR for each local station compares with Northern's 2018 'first draft' and the current timetable. The weekday figures for Davenport are below:

Woodsmoor / Davenport weekdays                
Inbound to Mcr 02:00-   07:00-  10:00-  16:00-  19:00  22:00-
06:59 09:59 15:59 18:59 21:59 01:59
Franchise TSR     1       7       12      6       3      2
Current Offer    1    9    11    7    3    2
2018 Offer        1    5    12    6    3    3
For comparison, here are some from the past (pre-Woodsmoor station):
1967              1        9       6       5      3      2
1985  1 15 12 13 6 4
Northern are suggesting that they will find a way to match the TSR, but as can be seen, this would still be still inadequate by present standards. Nowhere that we can find is it specified that so many trains would miss our stations to the disadvantage of people whose destination is not Manchester: however we understand that a shorter journey time between Buxton and Manchester by a certain percentage of trains is included in the document. We would suggest that if a few minutes are so important, work could be done to raise the permitted speed from 50 mph on appropriate sections of the line. We understand that the design of the bridge over the new A555 road was altered at a late stage to allow for 70 mph running.
Top of Page    11 June 2017

Letter from Ann Coffey MP to Northern

I am writing in connection with the 2018 timetable consultation, to express my dismay about Northern’s proposals cuts in services from Davenport and Woodsmoor stations for people travelling into Stockport and Manchester on the route from Buxton.

As I understand it, you intend to shorten the journey time from Buxton to Manchester by simply missing out stations like Woodsmoor and Davenport.  I find this completely unacceptable, when the stations involved are well used by commuters and others – and when the result would be to drive people back onto the heavily congested road system.

As you know I have written to Northern in the past on behalf of my constituents, who contact me about grossly overcrowded trains and poor service. Improvements for rail users are badly needed on this line, which people use both to get the work and for leisure activities.  These rail services are vital and should be expanded with extra peak time capacity and longer trains.  So it is incomprehensible to me that you are planning to cut peak time services next year, with a reduction of trains before 9.30am from ten to six.

All the communications I’ve received from you in recent months have promised an expansion of services and planned improvements under the new franchise agreement.  I really thought that with the new franchise we would begin to see some improvements in the service, as your customers have had to be very patient.  I am extremely disappointed therefore to discover what is being planned, and if re-elected as the MP for Stockport I will be taking this up formally as you would expect.  I should be grateful for your comments.

Yours sincerely ANN COFFEY (Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, Stockport Labour Party)

Reply from Northern to Ann Coffey's letter

Dear Ann,

Thank you for contacting Northern regarding this matter.

The details that you refer to are part of the wider work linked to our May 2018 timetable change, which does see many improved services across the North West.

The programme of work is at a very early stage, whereby an initial first draft of the timetables is available for consultation by local authorities, Community Rail Partnerships (CRP), and Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM). Throughout June, the business will review all formal responses from these partners (representing the general public). The next step is to then identify where we could potentially make adjustments based on the feedback provided. It is important to note that the changes you refer to are only draft at the moment.

I would also ask you to note that the underpinning driver for determining what the service structure will be for a given route is the Train Service Requirement (TSR) set out within our contractual franchise agreement with DfT and Rail North. In other words, this provides the baseline and directs how the train stopping pattern should work. Of course, all timings of trains are also dependent on the available slots and operational workings of the line.

The TSR [for] the route that you refer to sees an enhanced level of daytime services to Hazel Grove. The journey time is also improved for stations to Buxton by means of altered stopping patterns, whilst retaining the current level of two trains an hour at Davenport and Woodsmoor.

The spacing of services is constrained by the available train slots at Edgeley Junction, and between Stockport and Manchester, and the need to balance the spread of service to Davenport and Woodsmoor, to Hazel Grove, and to New Mills Newtown as well as Buxton at peak times.

The current draft timetable proposal is short of some peak time calls at Davenport and Woodsmoor and we intend to add extra calls to meet the TSR as the work stream evolves to a final draft timetable. We will also be reviewing consultation feedback to look at any case for peak calls above the TSR requirement.

You might also be interested to know that we are meeting with Transport for Greater Manchester and the CRP soon to discuss all of the above. Please let me know if you have any further questions – I am more than happy to assist.

Matthew Worman, Stakeholder Manager.

Top of Page    07 June 2017

From Davenport Councillors, 6 June

Below is the contents of an email sent today to Northern Rail. It is supported by the three councillors in Davenport and Cale Green ( Cllr Wendy Wild, Cllr Elise Wilson, Cllr Dickie Davies).


We the undersigned write to you to highlight our concerns over recent proposals which would significantly reduce the number of trains which stop at Davenport and Woodsmoor stations during peak hours.

The timetable proposals form part of a Northern Rail consultation on services from Buxton to Manchester. The proposals seek to reduce journey times on that route. However, to do so these proposals include a significant reduction in services stopping at Both Davenport and Woodsmoor stations, from nine trains pre-9.30am down to six. Alongside this, the proposed distribution of services would change from regular to intermittent; with two trains 14 minutes apart in the hour followed by a long wait instead of roughly half hourly.

While we are supportive of reducing journey times from Buxton to Manchester, we agree with Friends Of Davenport Station and Woodsmoor Friends Group, that reducing valued services is not the way to achieve this. Improved timetables and journey times must be accomplished through the requisite infrastructure investment, as opposed to cutting corners which will significantly impact upon people’s lives, many of whom choose to live where they do due to transport links.

We call upon the relevant parties to work together to find a solution which does not curtail services.

We will continue to work toward this, and look forward to your response to our concerns.

Top of Page    07 June 2017

Email from Councillor Davies, 31 May

Cllr Kate Butler (Stockport Council Cabinet Member for Economy and Regeneration) has indicated that the campaign by Friends of Davenport Station against timetable changes are likely to get council support. Kate intends to lead council opposition to the proposed reduction in services including a robust response to the consultation and statements to the media.

The Text of Friends of Davenport Station's response

As a group dedicated to increasing the use of rail in our area, we are most disappointed, and indeed appalled, to see the proposed May 2018 timetable. Despite all the positive publicity for the new Northern Franchise and its many claimed improvements (“37% increase in peak time capacity") passengers using Davenport and Woodsmoor stations face a weekday train service which is inferior in almost all respects to that we have been accustomed to for many years.

There are no peak-time extra services; there are irregular intervals between trains; skipping of stops destroys many journey opportunities; and all through workings beyond Manchester Piccadilly have been removed. This is despite the fact that there will be three Northern trains per hour on our line instead of two. Missing the busy stations at Davenport and Woodsmoor to gain a few minutes of journey time from Buxton to Manchester is, in our view, very misguided. Many people have chosen tolive and/or work in our area because of the good train service, and will be seriouslyinconvenienced by the proposed changes, in ways outlined below.

We and our respondents believe strongly that most trains should serve all stations on the
Stockport – Buxton line, which has many more uses than simply commuting to Manchester, and that additional stopping trains between Hazel Grove, Piccadilly, Deansgate and Salford Crescent are required in the peak periods. Any time savings that are considered necessary should follow infrastructure improvements. Times quoted are for Davenport station. For Woodsmoor add or subtract three minutes.

Peak-time service

The consultation timetable is based on a simple pattern of two trains per hour, with a one-hour gap at the end of the morning peak, reducing to hourly in the late evening. There are no additional trains for commuters to Manchester either in the morning or evening peaks ('peak' defined as times when off-peak tickets are not valid).
Currently there are nine trains before 09:30, at 06:40, 06:55, 07:04, 07:27, 07:33, 07:55, 08:06, 08:40, 09:08. Proposed service has just six - 06:29, 07:15, 07:29, 08:15, 08:29, 09:29. The 07:15 and 08:15 originate from Buxton and are likely, even if formed of the maximum of four carriages allowed by station platforms, to be too crowded to board by the time Davenport is reached.

In the evening peak, the service is already inadequate, with only one train additional to the pattern – from Piccadilly at 16:21, 16:49, 16:58, 17:23, 17:40, 18:21. The proposed service has 16:24, 16:46, 17:24, 17:46 and 18:24.

Irregular headways
Currently there is a pattern of weekday train service from Davenport to Manchester of two trains per hour, with departures at approximately even intervals: xx.08 and xx.41. This is to be replaced by two trains less than 15 minutes apart at xx.15 and xx.29 followed by a long gap. This is clearly much less satisfactory than an even interval, especially if the xx.29 train is cancelled.

Northern have told us that this is due to pathing issues at Edgeley Junction; however it is noticeable that if the trains from Buxton were to call, the pattern at Woodsmoor and
Davenport, would be much more satisfactory.

Skipping of stops
The Department for Transport's requirements for the franchise are specified by the number of trains arriving at Manchester from each station, and a requirement that some trains have shorter journey time for Buxton passengers. Northern's timetable planners have interpreted this in a manner which ignores the needs of people travelling between intermediate stations on the Buxton line or between intermediate stations and the market town the town of Buxton.

What is proposed is an hourly service from Davenport to Buxton, but in the return direction only five trains from Buxton (06:33, 07:33, 16:36, 17:35 and 22:58), call at Davenport and Woodsmoor, with a very long connection time (over 30 minutes) at Hazel Grove from others. For visitors to the rural attractions of Middlewood and Disley the situation is even worse. These stations are only accessible direct by the 07:07, 09:07, 18:07 (not Middlewood) and 19:07 trains from Davenport. A change at Hazel Grove on other trains enforces a 16-minute wait there.

This policy is turning away revenue on lightly-used off-peak services. More importantly,
Davenport and Woodsmoor are destinations for people travelling from the High Peak. Many students attending Stockport Grammar School, Aquinas College, and Hillcrest School (which will be opening again in September 2017 as Hulme Hall School) use the train. A spot check at Davenport on 25 May found 20 people, mostly home-bound students, boarding the 15:49 Manchester – Buxton (Davenport 16:05). All these will, of course, have travelled down in the morning, and sometimes may wish to arrive and depart at other times of day.

Stepping Hill Hospital, served by Woodsmoor station and with chronic car parking problems, is the designated hospital for all the towns on the Buxton line; staff, visitors and outpatients use the trains.

Loss of through trains beyond Piccadilly
The consultation timetable shows all weekday trains from the Buxton and Hazel Grove area terminating at Manchester Piccadilly in contrast to the existing timetable, which offers direct links on about 50% of trains through Piccadilly to Manchester Oxford Road and beyond. Someone has decided to transfer this useful facility to the Macclesfield line, and arrange things so that a simple connection at Stockport is not possible, as the train from Macclesfield departs there a few minutes before the train from Davenport arrives. The many passengers who travel to the Universities on Oxford Road and at Salford Crescent, and those who take advantage of the easy connection at Deansgate with Metrolink, will be forced to make a time-wasting, and probably unreliable, change at Piccadilly involving the journey over the footbridge. As mentioned above, many people have chosen to live near the Buxton line because of its long-standing through link.

Top of Page    07 June 2017

Looking Back

Although we have only recently been consulted, we have been worried about this matter for some time. Below is some correspondence we had with Northern Rail in July 2016:

To the Managing Director, Northern Railway, 27 July 2016

Dear Mr Hynes,

I'm pleased to see that you have been retained as head of our local railway company. On behalf of Davenport passengers I have been studying the available documents regarding the train services to be provided from December 2017 on the Buxton line, and some statements to the press. I read this material with some concern.

Its clear that Davenport is to have few, or no improvements in service, while Hazel Grove sees many more trains calling. I can perhaps understand what this should be, but what worries me most is that the promise to shorten the journey time between Buxton and Manchester will be achieved, as was tried in the early 1990s resulting in many complaints, by running Buxton trains non-stop through Davenport and Woodsmoor all day.

Direct access to Buxton line stations is valued by many people here, including the students and staff of the schools and colleges who use the train daily. I wonder if you are able to either re-assure me that this will not happen, of alternatively confirm that it will so I can start a campaign.

Perhaps it is not yet decided, in which case please can you take the views of Davenport area users into account. The people who framed the contract seem to believe that local train services are only used by people commuting to Manchester.

Best wishes,

Charlie Hulme

Reply from Matthew Worman, Stakeholder Manager, Central Region:


Good to hear from you and thank you for getting in touch.

The work relating to the future timetable changes is well underway. As part of this process, the operations and planning team are working through Arriva's winning bid, of which their response to DfT's train service specification is included.

While doing that we are also identifying what else is possible, in terms of enhancing services further where it is commercially and operationally feasible. We are, as you might expect, receiving various external enquiries like yours from stakeholders across the network.

In terms of providing a detailed response, and indeed identifying where additional services may be incorporated into the overall timetable changes, we will be undertaking external briefings later this year. By liaising with Transport for Greater Manchester and the Community Rail Partnership, there will be opportunities for groups such as yours to feed into this process, ensuring that your aspirations are captured and explored.

In the meantime, for assistance with any train or station related matters, please contact

Best regards.

Matthew Worman

Well, we did try... Mr Hynes has since resigned from his post and will be taking up a job in Scotland, but Mr Worman is still with us.
Top of Page    26 May 2017