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.