'FRECCLES and FrOPS have not been given a convincing explanation by Northern of why existing services have to be cut...'
Friends of Eccles Station (FRECCLES) and Friends of Patricroft Station (FrOPS) had hoped that 'Britain's biggest train timetable change for decades' would bring extra trains and an improved service to the stations from 20th May – but, instead, discovered cuts to the timetable and confusion for passengers.
"The planned new services, agreed with the Department for Transport, should have given Eccles two more trains per hour in weekday morning and evening peak periods, on top of the standard hourly service throughout the day" state the Friends "FrOPS had also lobbied for additional services, particularly in the light of a steep rise in the number of passengers using that station after two new housing estates were built locally"...
However, they add, "Not only are Northern failing to introduce the additional services that were originally planned for December 2017, they are cutting the existing weekday service by two trains to Manchester in the evening peak, and by two trains from Manchester in the morning peak. On Saturdays a total of six peak period trains will be withdrawn."
On top of this, trains are being mostly re-routed to Manchester Piccadilly instead of Manchester Victoria, and the Friends believe that passengers risk further confusion as there is no set pattern to the Manchester station their train will arrive at or depart from.
"Passengers will have to study the timetable carefully to find out which Manchester station their next train will arrive at or depart from" they explain "There will be a 3-hour gap in the early evening service to and from Manchester Piccadilly, when trains arrive at and depart from Manchester Victoria."
The Friends have made representation to Northern - operated by Arriva Rail North - about the cuts and confusion, as they feel Salford is being badly served relative to other stations on the Liverpool line.
One reason given by Northern, they state, is that delays in the Manchester to Preston electrification have resulted in a shortage of diesel-powered trains. Both groups feel this seems a poor excuse for reducing the service and instituting a chaotic timetable on the Manchester to Liverpool line.
"FRECCLES and FrOPS have not been given a convincing explanation by Northern of why existing services have to be cut and have called upon Northern to ensure that the Eccles and Patricroft rail service is strengthened as soon as possible" the Friends state.
They are asking anyone who has concerns about the new timetables to let Northern know by contacting the 'Customer Experience Centre' on 0800 200 6060 or by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
* FRECCLES (Friends of Eccles Station) is a volunteer group that has 'adopted' Eccles railway station and been looking after the station and the local area around it since 2005. Their work has been recognised nationally with Community Rail Awards, including, in 2016, a Gold status certificate for their work at the station and with the community. The group has consistently campaigned for a better service at Eccles Station, the goal being a half-hourly service to and from Eccles station every day. For further details see www.freccles.org.uk
FrOPS (Friends of Patricroft Station) is a group of volunteers who adopted Patricroft Station in 2009 and work to improve the station environment and campaign for better rail services for Patricroft. For further details see www.frops.org.uk