PARENTS have reacted with anger and disbelief after TransPennine Express (TPE) reintroduced what it described as ‘popular’ local train services to coincide with the reopening of schools.
But they pointed out the two reinstated services are of no use as they run too late to allow children to catch connecting buses.
And they claim two services which would get children from Greenfield, Mossley and Stalybridge to school on time have not been reinstated. They had been withdrawn when emergency timetables were introduced after lockdown was imposed.
Children from Saddleworth and Tameside use rail services 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. We are complaining and we keep getting generic pass the buck responses.
“It’s a disgrace to see TPE claiming to have brought back ‘popular’ services. I would challenge them to find a single student who uses either of the reinstated services.
“I have WhatsApp groups and Facebook messenger groups going mad over this.”
Parents, anticipating issues when schools returned, emailed TPE to highlight what was needed, but were annoyed to receive what they claimed were ‘template’ replies – the same contents for each of them.
Kerri Roberts, whose daughter attends Manchester High School for Girls, said: “The two reinstated services are 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.”
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 have 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: “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.”
The newspaper contacted TPE for a response but had not received a reply by the time we went to print.