New train timetable expected to bring major cuts to local services

Saddleworth rail users can expect a major cut in local services when a new timetable is revealed next May.

Greenfield Train Station

Fewer trains will stop at Greenfield Station as part of a national focus on more direct inter city services between Manchester and Leeds.

And Manchester Piccadilly station rather than Manchester Victoria is the preferred destination for the Department of Transport (DoT), who are pressing ahead with the changes despite fierce opposition from local rail passenger groups.

Under current proposals peak evening services from Victoria through Ashton and Stalybridge to Mossley and Greenfield will be reduced from three to two trains an hour.

In off peak times, only one Transpennine train an hour will stop at Slaithwaite and Mossley and one train an hour at Marsden and Greenfield.

At Greenfield and Mossley, hourly morning and evening peak period trains to and from Manchester will also be provided, Monday to Friday, by Arriva Northern.

More than a million people annually use Slaithwaite, Marsden, Greenfield and Mossley stations.

The final proposal for next May’s timetable will be submitted to DoT by franchise operators, Transpennine and Arriva Northern, later this month.

Richard Knowles, a Professor of Transport Geography and member of the Greenfield Rail Action Group (GRAG), said: “By any standard it is a bad cut just so Manchester to Leeds can have six expresses an hour.

“As it stands two skip stops will go to Stalybridge and then to Piccadilly. We lose all trains between Greenfield and Mossley, Greenfield and Slaithwaite, Greenfield and Ashton plus Greenfield and Victoria unless they cave in.”

Campaigners from GRAG, Friends of Mossley Station plus Slaithwaite and Marsden Action of Rail Transport have met with Transpennine and Arriva Northern.

“The meeting with Arriva was quite productive,” added Mr Knowles, a former leader of Oldham Council.

“They are prepared to listen to what rail user groups have put to them in terms of people getting to work and trying to get the best we can out of a depressing cut in our services next May.

“But there are all sorts of issues in terms of trains being full before they get to Greenfield and Mossley. Will you be able to get on?  Will you be able to get a seat?

‘There are also issues about trains being too long for our stations and so, because of selective door opening, it will take longer for people to get on and off.

“All in all it’s not good news. The whole of the rail network is geared to improving intercity passenger traffic. The losers are the local trains and the local passengers.

“You can’t dress up the fact we are going to get a deterioration in our rail service next May in order to facilitate Leeds to Manchester having six trains an hour.

“Personally, I think that’s shocking. There ought to be some public consultation.

“But the rail industry is so rigid anything not conceded by August will be unlikely to change.

“Arriva are prepared to keep the peak trains into Victoria, Salford Central and beyond.

“Lots of surveys show two out of three passengers prefer Victoria and Salford Central to Piccadilly.

“But Arriva can’t guarantee that because the Department of Transport might say ‘no’ when they put their final timetable bid in.”

After hearing about the planned changes, Saddleworth and Lees District Partnership has written to Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling about their concerns.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *