A Ghost of a Chance: Manchester to Chester via Reddish South?

New hope for Britain’s most notorious ghost train

Over 26 years ago, the once frequent Stockport to Stalybridge train was dramatically cut back to a handful of journeys. By 1993, a single journey either northbound or southbound. At present, the parliamentary train only runs out of Stockport with its lone journey departing at 0922.Now, East of the M60 – thanks to an article in this week’s Tameside Reporter – has learned of plans to boost the service. Meetings between the Friends of Denton Station and the Friends of Reddish South Station with rail franchises and Transport for Greater Manchester could see the two stations regain regular services.

Instead of a standalone service from Stockport to Manchester Victoria, they propose the extension of Northern Rail’s existing service from Stockport to Chester. There are plans to increase the Mid Cheshire Line’s service to half hourly between the two stations. Adding Reddish South and Denton – en route to Manchester Victoria – would provide a number of benefits.

Firstly, the people of Altrincham and Northwich would benefit from better connections with Bolton and Blackburn trains. At Manchester Victoria, they could change for Ashton-under-Lyne without crossing the city centre. Secondly, the user groups’ suggested plans would make use of empty rolling stock.  Empty carriage stock workings to Newton Heath (via Ashton Moss) would instead go to Victoria as revenue earning trains.

To ensure the success of this project, and the reliability of Mid Cheshire services, single track sections would need to be doubled. If regular trains are to reinstated at Denton and Reddish South, this would be classed as a success for the user groups.

On the other hand, Stalybridge would still be without a direct link to Guide Bridge. The restoration of which could allow improved connections with Glossop, Hadfield and Marple. With the link between Marple and Stalybridge severed in April 2009 (by the curtailment of the 389 service to Hyde), this too should be a priority. Could plans to switch local services from Huddersfield and Greenfield to Piccadilly be revived with a stop at Guide Bridge, running non-stop to the city centre thereafter?

If accepted, Denton’s and Reddish South’s new service could be added to the May 2016 timetable. We await further developments with trepidation.

S.V., 22 May 2015.

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4 thoughts on “A Ghost of a Chance: Manchester to Chester via Reddish South?

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    1. Hi Conor,

      Highly unlikely perhaps. After Denton, the service may turn left at Denton junction approaching Ashton Moss via Audenshaw. If Guide Bridge was to be included, trains would have to reverse at Stalybridge. Unless the present Manchester Victoria – Stalybridge shuttle service is tacked on to a future Stalybridge – Stockport route.

      One reason why Guide Bridge is (probably) omitted from the plans is the scarcity of track paths. The section east of the said station sees four trains per hour from Marple and Glossop as well as four Transpennine Express services per hour. Plus the odd goods train. Hence the fifth TPE train per hour from Manchester to Leeds serving Victoria via the former L&YR branch.

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

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  1. This is such great news and may in future years lead to impetus for the restoration of a station at Littlemoss in Droylsden. Consideration may be given to an Ashton Parkway station to link up with the Metrolink line at Ashton West, which would mean easier access to Ashton-U-Lyne than a 10 minute journey further into Victoria followed by a reversal in the exact same direction for almost the entire length of the journey. Still very much a good idea though Stuart!

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    1. Hi Ady,

      An Ashton Parkway station could be just off Junction 23 of the M60 though this may be a little close to Guide Bridge station.

      Alternatively, another site could be Richmond Street nearest the Ashton Moss signal box. The station could be called ‘Crowhill’ to avoid confusion with the two Metrolink stops (Ashton Moss and Ashton West). Pedestrian access between train and tram would be shorter than the distance between Eccles’ rail and tram stations.

      I would say a new Droylsden station would have higher community benefits. The 168/169 services could assume the role as conveyors to Littlemoss station with the 231 similarly so from Hartshead. On the other hand it could affect the viability of the 231 from Littlemoss to Manchester. At present the 216 coexists with the trams and retains healthy loads (like the 231).

      I would love to see a regular service for Denton and Reddish South. However I wouldn’t be building any hopes up; the emergency budget scheduled for the 08 July may herald more departmental cuts. Disproportionately affecting Northern England as always.

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

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