New timetable to bring improved service to long-suffering rail users?

CAMPAIGNERS predict “expected improvements” to services when a new rail timetable is released in December.

By then, platform lengthening work at Greenfield, which is Oldham’s last rail station, should have been completed.

Platform extension

But plans to open a disused entry to the station from Oldham Road, championed by Oldham East and Saddleworth, Debbie Abrahams, remain in doubt.

Mark Ashmore, chair of Greenfield Rail Action Group (GRAG), said: “Little did we or anyone else expect the chaos that followed the introduction of the May 2018 timetable or the subsequent deterioration in the Greenfield train service.

“After the changes in May 2018 there is no doubt we had a much worse service. The only gain was the much improved TPE (Trans Pennine Express) rolling stock.

“Since then GRAG members, along with rail users from Mossley, Marsden and Slaithwaite, have met with TfGM, Transport for the North, TransPennine-Express, Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, local councillors and MPs.

“All this hard work by the members of GRAG and our supporters, who have emailed and lobbied the above, has resulted in expected improvements from December.”

Manchester bound platform

The new timetable has to be signed off by Network Rail up to 12 weeks before the December 15 timetable change.

And it is expected to be available for the next GRAG meeting – open to the general public – at Uppermill Civic Hall on Tuesday October 8 at 7.30pm.

Graham Meiklejohn and Lucja Majewska from TransPennine Express, have been invited.

As our pictures show, work is well underway to extend both platforms at Greenfield as part of the Great North Rail Project, to lengthen more than 100 platforms at more than 70 stations in the north of make way for longer trains with more seats.

Work has already finished at Slaithwaite and Marsden while Mossley station is also on the list for improvement.

Talks have already taken place to explore the possibility of re-opening an old path that used to lead on to the Huddersfield-bound platform which is currently only accessible via a footbridge.

Mrs Abrahams said: “You can see from the brickwork, where the current waiting room is, alterations were made many years ago to the station. Originally this is where there used to be an old path leading to the platform.

“The footbridge to the platform is incredibly difficult to use for anyone with mobility issues, as well as for people with small children and buggies.

“Earlier this year, Greenfield was omitted from a list of 73 stations receiving funding from the government’s ‘Access for All’ scheme.

“Having been knocked back we wanted to explore whether this was a way to make the station accessible for everyone.

“The footbridge to the platform is incredibly difficult to use for anyone with mobility issues, as well as for people with small children and buggies. The inaccessibility of Greenfield station has to be addressed.”

Mrs Abrahams, accompanied by Oldham Council leader, Sean Fielding and several members for Transport for Greater Manchester, recently held a ‘private’ meeting at the station to discuss future viability.

Simon Elliott, Head of Rail Programme at TfGM, said: “Over half of all railway stations in Greater Manchester are currently not accessible.

“Improving access to stations across the entire city region, including Greenfield station, is a key priority for TfGM – enabling everyone to use public transport equally, confidently and independently.

“We are liaising with local stakeholders and industry partners Network Rail and Northern to see what improvements to accessibility can be made in the future at Greenfield.”

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