Relief for children and parents as rail services are reinstated

FOLLOWING a public outcry, TransPennine Express (TPE) is reinstating three rail services which were suspended when emergency timetables were introduced due to lower demand during lockdown.

It comes as a massive relief to parents who were worried that without the services it could add as much as an extra two hours to their children’s journey time to school each day.

TPE publicised they were bringing back two ‘popular’ services to coincide with the return of children to school on March 8.

However, parents pointed out one ran too late to catch connecting buses in Manchester and the other left children with a lengthy wait before college began in Huddersfield.

And they argued three services – two in the morning and one late afternoon – which served children better had not been restored to the timetable.

After a deluge of complaints, TPE has reinstated the services which used to run pre-lockdown.

Jerry Farquharson, TPS service planning director, said: “We recently reinstated two, morning services for those travelling between Huddersfield and Manchester which have been well used by key workers and those making essential journeys.

“Following very valuable feedback from the local community, we are pleased to share that from March 29, we will be bringing back further services, including the 07.14 train from Greenfield to Manchester, the 07.53 to Huddersfield and the 16.30 Manchester to Huddersfield.

“We want to thank all those from the local area for their feedback on these services.”

Children from Saddleworth and Tameside use rail services from Greenfield, Mossley and Stalybridge to get to Manchester Grammar School, Manchester High School for Girls, Withington Girls’ School, Chetham’s School of Music, Xaverian College, Stockport Grammar and Greenhead College in Huddersfield.

A parent, who did not want to be named, wrote: “Children who go to school in Manchester cannot possibly get there in time on the reinstated 8.14 from Greenfield. They need the 7.14 which hasn’t been reinstated.

“And Greenhead College students in Huddersfield would get there a full hour early with nowhere safe to go on the reinstated 7.22.

“Lots of parents have been messaging TPE to say they need the 7.14 from Greenfield to Manchester and the 7.53 to Huddersfield, neither of which have been reinstated.”

Kerri Roberts, whose daughter attends Manchester High School for Girls, said: “It is brilliant, fantastic news and will make life a lot simpler.

“My daughter and other girls were left hang around in Manchester for about 45 minutes and they were all noticing the effect of the trains not being run.

“The services were only suspended because of lockdown which was reasonable with demand lower. We always thought it would come back as it was a scheduled service but it would be a matter of when.

“The two initial reinstated services were no help. What TPE don’t appreciate is that schools are not near to Piccadilly. They need to catch a school or public bus and that adds another 25 minutes to their journey.

“The 7.14 train links to the school bus which picks up children from Piccadilly. The 7.45 is not reliable and, if it runs late, children miss the school bus.

“And if my daughter catches the 6.45 train, she is left waiting for an hour at Piccadilly for the school bus, something which is unacceptable for a 12-year-old.”

Greenfield train station

Kerri, who lives at Pots and Pans, added there is also a problem on the return with the 16.30 service from Piccadilly having not been reinstated.

She continued: “The school bus drops them off just after 4pm so children have to hang about for just under one hour with nowhere to wait.

“Getting an earlier train in the morning and coming home later is adding two hours to an already long day for children.”

Greenfield’s Jacqueline Grout, whose 18-year-old daughter is at Manchester High School for Girls, explained it is more of a concern for parents of younger children who rely on school buses from Piccadilly.

She said: “TPE reinstated the wrong services which could mean an extra five hours each week travelling for children.

“If they get the 6.45 train, they are waiting for an hour for the school bus at a draughty station where even the cafés are shut.”

Sarah Shepherdson, from Diggle, whose 15-year-old Thomas attends Stockport Grammar School, explained he has to catch a second train to Davenport.

She said: “I am pleased to hear the news. It will make a big difference to the children and make more reasonable journey times for them.

“Tom went to stay with his dad for much of the week because on the one day he travelled by train from here he was late for school.

“It is nice to see TPE has listened to its customers and taken on board what they have said.”

She continued: “What was galling was to read the TPE press release saying the ‘popular’ services were being reinstated for children.

“The 8.14 is useless and the 7.14 is needed. To catch the 6.45 would mean leaving home at 6.30 and having a lot of hanging around.”

Students studying at Greenhead College, Huddersfield, are also affected by the 7.53 not being reintroduced as they have to use the 7.22.

The unnamed mother said: “The earlier train means my son gets to college one hour early but, because of Covid, they are not allowed to arrive early. What are they supposed to do to kill time?

“What was annoying was we only found out about the changes on Friday as the children returned on Monday and had little warning what was happening.”

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