Rail campaigners hope for Burnham boost in Greenfield timetable battle

GREENFIELD station users will discover the severity of new rail timetable changes by the end of next month.

But rail campaign groups hope the influence of Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, can gain them some concessions to the controversial proposals.

Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham

If they come into force from May 20, 2018 all peak time journeys from Greenfield will run to Manchester Piccadilly, with no direct service to Victoria.

Passengers currently travelling to Salford Central at peak times will be worse affected. Instead of three direct services commuters face a 70-minute journey time via Stalybridge.

The changes are being introduced to allow for six express trains an hour on the TransPennine route.

Members of Greenfield Rail Action Group (GRAG), the Friends of Mossley Station (FOMS) and Slaithwaite and Marsden Action on Rail Transport (SMART) recently met with Mr Burnham to relay the fears of thousands of local rail passengers.

Mark Ashmore is chair of GRAG and also umbrella group, the Stalybridge and Huddersfield Rail Users Group, (SHRUG).

“Nothing has definitely been fixed in stone as yet,” he said.

“That is encouraging but we are still very concerned the timetable proposals aren’t going to work so we have to be prepared for the worst.

“However, Mr Burnham took on board our belief it shouldn’t just be about inter city travel and it is equally important people should be able to get in and out of city centres for work and leisure.

“I am optimistic he will raise our issues with Transport for Greater Manchester and also Rail North, who are going to have a lot of influence, particularly from April when they become part of Transport for the North.

“In the long term, we are slightly encouraged a lot of these decisions will be made in the North of England rather than London.”

The campaigners also presented Mr Burnham with some possible ‘quick wins’ to lessen the potential upheaval the changes are predicted to cause.

“They are things that could be done comparatively essily and quickly rather than wait for the entire Trans Pennine electrification upgrade,” added Mr Ashmore.

“We know people working in Salford and Swinton who are going to lose their jobs if it takes three trains to get to work.

Greenfield station

“Northern are doing two trains an hour from Stalybridge to Victoria via Ashton.

“But only one of those per hour runs through to Salford Central, which is important for workers in Spinningfields.

“So, we have asked Mr Burnham to put it to Rail North it can’t be too hard to link it through with another service that runs through Victoria to Salford and onwards.

“Additionally, most people have to be in Manchester to start work on the hour.

“Under the proposals though the arrival at Piccadilly is very close to the hour and is going to cause lots of problems.

“It can’t be that hard to make the arrival times suitable for the majority of people who have to be in work on the hour, especially as they will be arriving at Piccadilly which is further away than most people want.”

The groups also believe the changes could lead to over crowding at stations, including Marsden, Slaithwaite and Mossley, forcing delays to services.

“The ‘dwell times’ are only scheduled for 30 seconds,” continued Mr Ashemore.

“But if they don’t get it right, the overcrowding would lead to increased dwell times, affecting the timetables of all the subsequent trains at busy periods.

“Wouldn’t it be better to plan this properly rather have then have enforced unplanned delays at our stations?”

Further meetings are planned with Rail North director, Gary Bogan, and First TransPennine.

“The statutory period for all the changes to be set in concrete is three months before May 20,” confirmed Mr Ashmore. “So, mid February is the absolute cut-off when we will find out what is happening.”

 

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