The old station’s not for turning
In an ironic twist of fate, the severance of Diggle Old Station Turning was announced at around the same time as Theresa May’s appointment as Britain’s second female Prime Minister. Whilst the MP for Maidenhead took her cue from Thatcher, the only thing that hasn’t been for turning was First Greater Manchester’s cuts to the 184 service in Diggle.
Throughout Oldham Council boundaries, this summer’s set of changes will affect Manchester-bound services. Most notably Saddleworth’s buses and the thinning out of evening journeys along Manchester Road. Could we point the finger of suspicion towards the trams, or competing indoor forms of entertainment?
If we could apportion the blame on the decline of Oldham’s evening services on Metrolink, some critics could say that about the 59 service to Rushcroft. Its half hourly evening service (great for seeing the odd show at Playhouse 2) will be cut to once hourly, departing Rushcroft at five to the hour (22 minutes past the hour from Piccadilly Gardens). Between Shaw and Oldham, the tram has considerably more journey options.
A small number of evening journeys will be withdrawn on the 83 service from Sholver to Piccadilly Gardens. This will also be true of the 81 service to Manchester via Moston where some early evening journeys will be discontinued. Could we blame the tram on changes to the 181 and 182 services from Rochdale to Manchester via Chadderton? With the exception of peak hour, evening, Sunday and Bank Holiday journeys (southbound AM, northbound PM), both services will terminate at Shaw [Wren’s Nest]. The 181 will serve St. Mary’s Road in Moston.
Changes to the 24 service (the other Rochdale to Chadderton and Manchester bus via Oldham Road) will see Manchester-bound journeys in the morning peaks. Evening peaks will only see Rochdale-bound buses. A far cry from the years when Bacup used to be its northerly terminus.
This Summer sees the continuation of The Incredible Shrinking 149 Service. Over 20 years ago it offered a rare cross-city connection to Heald Green. From Summer, its Manchester link will be severed. Instead, journeys will terminate at Cheetham Hill, outside the Manchester suburb’s TESCO store.
Besides Manchester-bound buses out of Oldham, the popular 409 service is set to see some changes. In line with its Sunday service, Monday to Saturday evening journeys will be half hourly – cut from every 20 minutes.
There is only one operator change, and this affects the 403 service (Shaw – Rushcroft Circular). From the 25 July, MCT Travel (or Manchester Community Transport if you prefer), will be its new operators. They will take over from Checkmate who are leaving the Greater Manchester bus scene.
Of greatest controversy are First Greater Manchester’s changes to Saddleworth routes into Manchester. The most severe cuts entail affect the 184 service. Though the 184 will help to maintain a ten minute frequency from Grotton to Manchester (co-worked with the 180 service), the 184’s link to one part of Diggle will be discontinued. One journey per hour from Uppermill will no longer Dobcross village and the Old Station Turning circle at Diggle.
Diggle passengers wishing to call in The Diggle Hotel will have to walk the extra distance for 184 journeys to and from Huddersfield. First Greater Manchester’s decision could bite them in the posterior five years from now, if Saddleworth School moves to Diggle. There will only be a smattering of morning journeys from the Old Station Turning stop. Two hourly journeys on Sundays and Bank Holidays will continue to serve Old Station Turning.
There will also be some timing changes to the 180 service, plus the peak hour X84 route via Oldham Way.
The following Oldham and Saddleworth area services will operate summer timetables, taking advantage of the reduced traffic volumes in the school holidays.
- 59: Rushcroft – Oldham – Middleton – Heaton Park – Manchester [Piccadilly Gardens] (First Greater Manchester);
- 76: Oldham – Hollins – Limeside – Failsworth – Manchester [Piccadilly Gardens] (Stagecoach Manchester);
- 81: Derker – Oldham – Butler Green – Moston – Manchester [Piccadilly Gardens] (First Greater Manchester);
- 83: Sholver – Oldham – Hollinwood – Failsworth – Manchester [Piccadilly Gardens] (First Greater Manchester);
- 409: Rochdale – Royton – Oldham – Hathershaw – Ashton-under-Lyne (First Greater Manchester);
- 425: Fitton Hill – Hathershaw – Oldham – Glodwick – Holts Estate (First Greater Manchester).
For Oldham and Saddleworth bus users, the last year hasn’t been a good one. In the last five years, Saddleworthians have been at the sharpest end of service cuts. With FirstGroup intending to close one of their Greater Manchester depots, Oldham’s buses lie in the balance. The rest of 2016 could be interesting and gut-wrenching at the same time.
S.V., 20 July 2016.