The May 2018 Timetable and
Contents: TfGM Committee
Report | SEMCRP
submission | Stockport
MBC response | Stockport
Labour Response | More
from Ann Coffey MP | 2015 Briefing
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
Kate Butler | Text of our
Response | Letter from
: the Consultation
period ended on 7 July 2017: Northern have promised to
make some changes, but it's likely that by the time we
see them it will too late until the next timetable
BBC Radio Manchester item featuring Davenport
Campaigner Chris Hunt
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
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
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
Disley only at 07:07, 09:07, 18:07 (not Middlewood) and
TfGM Committee report
written by Transport for Greater Manchester Rail
Services Development Officer Owain Roberts
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
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
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
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
and Northern, but time is getting short
for major alterations. The Committee page on which the
minutes may be published is
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
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
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
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
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.
09 July 2017
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
. We await further developments.
06 July 2017
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
06 July 2017
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.
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
06 July 2017
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
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.
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
30 June 2017
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
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.
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
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
by over 250,000 people a year' which is the official
total of 'entrances and exits'.
22 June 2017
Local resident Chris Hunt has set up an online
petition on the 38 Degrees website against the
20 June 2017
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
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
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.
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
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.'
16 June 2017
Woodsmoor Station Friends' response to the
Community Rail Officer can
now be downloaded here (PDF)
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
Yours sincerely ANN COFFEY (Prospective Parliamentary
Candidate, Stockport Labour Party)
Reply from Northern to Ann Coffey's letter
Thank you for contacting Northern regarding this
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
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
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.
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).
RE: PROPOSALS FOR DAVENPORT & WOODSMOOR STATIONS
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
Reply from Matthew Worman, Stakeholder Manager,
Good to hear from you and thank you for getting in
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
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
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.