The Stockport – Stalybridge Train (1128 hours, Saturdays Only)
Is this the worst scheduled passenger rail service in Europe in terms of frequency?
Running once a week, Saturdays only, is a train with only one journey – just one journey in one direction. The train calls between Stockport and Stalybridge via three intermediate stations: Reddish South, Denton and Guide Bridge. Both Reddish South and Denton are unstaffed stations without disabled access and (wait for it) platform lighting.
Before privatisation, this line had a much better service than that of passengers travelling to Mossley by rail from Stalybridge, with an hourly frequency. In 1991-92, 12,000 people signed a petition against cutbacks to the service, which boasted a frequency of five trains a day (two one way, three the other). Now, the current service is once weekly, and passengers to Mossley are now afforded an hourly service with a two hourly Sunday service.
The latest Network Rail Draft Network Management Statement for the North West proposes the closure of Denton and Reddish South stations. The local MP Andrew Gwynne favours the launch of a direct service from the doomed stations to Manchester Victoria. This move will increase journey opportunities for Denton and Reddish residents, as they would be able to travel to Bury, Bolton, Oldham and Blackburn without crossing Manchester city centre. This plan will involve turning left at Denton junction onto the line leading to Ashton Moss and Miles Platting. However, there is one problem in that links between Stalybridge and Guide Bridge would be severed.
In my opinion, I would give 2.5 cheers to this plan (the .5 being due to the real ale lovers missing their once weekly unidirectional shuttle to the Stalybridge Station Buffet Bar). Perhaps Gwynne’s proposal could prompt the reopening of Droylsden station. Cut off from the rail network since 1968, the Droylsden area suffers from congestion between Manchester Road (Audenshaw) and Edge Lane/Ashton New Road. This would be alleviated by a reopened Droylsden station off Lumb Lane near Littlemoss (as well as the Metrolink).
To make up the loss of the Stalybridge – Guide Bridge – Denton section of the route, I would recommend retaining the once weekly train for the time being, in addition to Gwynne’s proposal. This could be replaced by a direct London service, or other services to Cheshire, starting at Stalybridge or Huddersfield. This section also offers potential for a prospective Huddersfield to London Euston route (calling at Stalybridge, Guide Bridge and Stockport stations), though subject to line access issues.