Northern Rail Strike: Two Days of Industrial Action During Whit Week

The latest Arriva Rail North strike dates, and how they will affect passengers east of the M60 motorway

Following a recent spate of cancellations and fundamental changes to our rail timetables, more passengers could be taking to their cars on Thursday and Saturday. Those two days (24 and 26 May) will see continued strike action from Northern guards.

As with previous strikes, Northern will be running a skeleton service. Like previous strikes since March 2017, these concern safety issues and the imposition of Driver Only Operation. In other words, a difference between the kind of railway that its passengers would like over the DfT’s interpretation. Whereas some passengers would like to keep the guard on their trains, some agree with the Department for Transport’s Driver Only Operation plans. Which Arriva Rail North signed up to in their franchise agreement.

These will be the first set of strikes under the new timetable. With Transpennine Express the only operator between Huddersfield to Stalybridge on the strike days, there may be more overcrowding on the skip-stop trains.

Overview of Northern services running on the 24 and 26 May

On previous strike days, the Manchester Victoria – Huddersfield all stops service was covered by a bus replacement service. This ran up to Stalybridge, where they changed for Manchester Victoria-bound trains or buses. With hindsight you could be forgiven for regarding this as a dress rehearsal for the latest timetable.

Previously there had been limited services on the Manchester Piccadilly – Hadfield/Glossop routes, and an extremely limited service between Piccadilly and Rose Hill Marple. During one of the strike days, Hyde North only had two return trains!

  • Huddersfield – Stalybridge – Manchester Piccadilly: bus replacement service during peak hours between Stalybridge and Huddersfield. Transpennine Express’ skip-stop service only rail-based alternative;
  • Manchester Victoria – Stalybridge: half hourly service with intermediate stop at Ashton-under-Lyne. No journeys continuing to Bolton and Wigan Wallgate stations;
  • Manchester Piccadilly – Hadfield/Glossop: half hourly peak service and hourly service outside peak hours;
  • Manchester Piccadilly – Rose Hill Marple: limited service – every 90 minutes in peaks, every two hours outside peak hours;
  • Manchester Piccadilly – New Mills Central: irregular service with some peak hour extras. No trains continuing to Sheffield – alternatives via Transpennine Express and East Midlands Trains from Stockport (via 358 bus from New Mills, plus 383 and 384 buses from Marple);
  • Manchester Piccadilly – New Mills Newtown – Buxton: hourly service to Buxton. Half hourly trains to Hazel Grove with additional stops at Heaton Chapel and Levenshulme on Piccadilly – Hazel Grove trains;
  • Stalybridge – Stockport: no service (as a consequence of the strike, its newly doubled service will begin on the 02 June).

Brief overview of train times

Please note that Northern will not be running peak hour services between Huddersfield and Manchester Piccadilly. Nor will they be running the newly upgraded Saturdays Only service from Stockport to Stalybridge.

  • Manchester Victoria – Stalybridge – Huddersfield:
    • From Manchester Victoria: from 0723 to 1823, 23 minutes past the hour. Additional journeys at 0753, 0853, 1553, 1653, and 1753;
    • From Stalybridge: from 0800 to 1900, on the hour. Additional journeys at 0830, 0930, 1730, and 1830. Bus replacement service to Huddersfield at 0610, 0716, 1615, 1714, and 1815, calling at all stations;
    • From Huddersfield: bus replacement service at 0600, 0712, 0811, 1713, 1813, and 1913, calling all stations.
  • Manchester Piccadilly – Hadfield/Glossop:
    • From Manchester Piccadilly: 0629, 0659, 0729 and 0759. From 0829, 29 minutes past the hour until 1829. Plus further journey at 1659;
    • From Hadfield: From 0713 to 1913, thirteen minutes past the hour. Plus additional journeys at 0743, 0843, and 1743.
  • Manchester Piccadilly – Rose Hill Marple:
    • From Manchester Piccadilly: 0709, 0839, 1009, 1206, 1339, 1539, and 1710;
    • From Rose Hill Marple: 0745, 0913, 1045, 1245, 1414, 1614, and 1745.
  • Manchester Piccadilly – New Mills Central:
    • From Manchester Piccadilly: 0652, 0723, 0740, 0803, 0836, 0908, and 0949. Then 1119 and 19 minutes past the hour until 1619, then 1705 and 1743;
    • From New Mills Central: 0729, 0759, 0828, 0911, 0955, 1033, 1204, and 1303. Then 1404, 1504, 1602, 1701, 1750, and 1829.
  • Manchester Piccadilly – New Mills Newtown – Buxton:
    • From Manchester Piccadilly: 0621, 0721, 0752, 0821, 0847, 0921, and 0948. Then 21 minutes past the hour (to Hazel Grove) and 12 minutes to the hour (to Buxton) until 1747 and 1821. Then 1849 and 1921;
    • From Hazel Grove: 0650, 0750, 0813, 0837, 0850, 0950, 1011, and 1050. Then 10 past and 10 to the hour until 1835, then 1850 and 1950;
    • From Buxton: 0736, 0800, and 0934. Then 26 minutes to the hour until 1534, then 1636, 1735, and 1800.

Alternative methods of transport

If your nearest station has no services on Thursday and Saturday, here’s our list of alternative ways to get to Manchester, Huddersfield and Marple.

  • Ashton-under-Lyne: Metrolink services between Ashton and Manchester City Zone stops. Plus the 216 and 219 buses (Stagecoach Manchester) to Piccadilly Gardens. From Mossley and Greenfield, First Greater Manchester’s 350, 353, and 354 services are worth considering. Due to the skip-stop services and a need to change at Stalybridge, they offer surprisingly faster journey options.
  • Belle Vue: as no trains will be calling there, Stagecoach Manchester’s 201, 203, 204, 205, 206 and 207 services continue to Piccadilly Gardens. For journeys to Marple, Romiley, and Bredbury, the 203 to Stockport then a 383 or 384 could be a good option. Or you could get a 203 to Reddish North and try for the skeleton service to Marple.
  • Fairfield: Stagecoach Manchester’s regular 219 service is a good alternative. In the morning peak, there are four Manchester-bound journeys of the 221 service from Dukinfield (three in the evening peak in the reverse direction).
  • Gorton: as with Fairfield, the 219 and 221 services are a good shout. Or you could walk a little further in the opposite direction for the 201, 203, 204, 205, 206 and 207 services.
  • Greenfield: the easiest way of getting to Manchester, besides the train, is a 180 or 184 bus straight to Piccadilly Gardens. Alternatively, you could alight at Mumps Bridge and change over to a tram. First Greater Manchester’s 184 service offers an hourly connection with Marsden, Slaithwaite, and the other Colne Valley villages without a station. Travelling to Ashton-under-Lyne and Mossley means First Greater Manchester’s and 350, 353 and 354 services (353 and 354 are operated by MCT Travel on Sunday). The 353 and 354 also call at Stalybridge bus station. Nexus Move’s 356 Saddleworth Rambler service will run as normal.
  • Hyde North: for Manchester Piccadilly, you could try the skeleton service from Flowery Field station as an alternative to the more skeletal service from this station. Or you could get a 330 to Ashton-under-Lyne and change for a tram, or walk along Johnson Brook Road for the 340 (early evenings and Sunday daytime), 343, or 389 buses to Stalybridge and change for a Transpennine Express service.
  • Hyde Central: Stagecoach Manchester’s 201 service is a viable alternative. You can also catch the 204 (after 7pm), 206 and 207 (peak hours only), though they offer a less direct route than the 201.
  • Marsden: First West Yorkshire and First Greater Manchester have buses every ten minutes to Huddersfield in the daytime. The 184 from Manchester and Oldham is only once hourly. If you don’t mind standing up or sitting on a table, or a luggage rack, you could chance TPE’s skip-stop service.
  • Mossley: there are two ways of getting to Manchester on Thursday and Saturday. Your best bet are the 350, 353, or 354 buses into Ashton-under-Lyne, and the tram. Travelling to West Yorkshire is more finicky: you need to get a 350, 353, 354, or 356 to Uppermill for the 184 service to Huddersfield (plus Marsden and Slaithwaite).
  • Ryder Brow: like Belle Vue, Ryder Brow will have no trains on the two strike days, and getting to Manchester or Marple will be a real ordeal. Your best bet (other than staying at home) is a walk to Hyde Road for the 201, 203, 204, 205, 206, and 207 buses.
  • Slaithwaite: a few miles east on the A62, Slaithwaite benefits from the same high frequency corridor of buses as Marsden. Or you could squeeze on TPE’s skip-stop service for Huddersfield, Mossley, and Stalybridge up to Manchester Piccadilly.
  • Strines: believe it or not, Strines passengers are going to fair better than fellow commuters of a Hydonian origin. If the skeleton service doesn’t suit you, the 358 bus could be a viable alternative up to Stockport (where you could change for Manchester Piccadilly-bound services).
  • Woodley: try Stagecoach Manchester’s 330 service to Bredbury station for the skeleton service into Manchester Piccadilly (which is more frequent than the skeletal service from Woodley). As the 389 bus hasn’t served Woodley since April 2009, a journey to Romiley or Marple may be best done on foot along the Peak Forest Canal.

Before You Go…

Allow extra time for your journey. In other words, keep your digital devices fully charged (that free WiFi access will come in handy), take a good book with you as well. On the skeleton services, expect them to be busier than usual. Likewise with the trams and the buses.

If you’re doing the Rail Ale Trail, this is off limits (unless you can work it around bus routes and TPE services). Expect gross overcrowding on Transpennine Express, thanks in no small part to our latest timetable changes.

Useful References and Resources

For further updates on the strike, Northern’s website and Twitter feed will stand you in good stead for Thursday and Saturday.

In Brief:

  • Industrial Action is about the safety issues of DOO (Driver Only Operation), involving the RMT union with Arriva Rail North, Southern, and Merseyrail guards and drivers;
  • Normal service on First Transpennine Express, Virgin, Arriva Trains Wales, East Midlands Trains, and London Midland routes;
  • Limited service on Northern routes, with some areas having no service at all (where alternative modes may exist).

S.V., 23 May 2018.

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