Tameside Train Timetable Changes, 15 December 2019

Stalybridge sees restoration of Liverpool to Scarborough express service

From Sunday [15 December], Stalybridge will regain its direct link with Liverpool Lime Street and Scarborough. Before May 2018, Stalybridge station was served by an hourly service from Liverpool Lime Street to Scarborough via Warrington Central and York. Since the infamous May 2018 timetable changes, this was discontinued with the service being partially replaced by two skip-stop trains from Manchester Piccadilly.

From that month forward, cancellations and delays have drastically risen. Delays caused by the postponement of Platform 15 and 16 of Manchester Piccadilly station and the Ordsall Curve have exacerbated this, causing a knock-on effect across the network. As a consequence, several express trains had been cancelled, or terminated short of their original journey. Many of which have used Stalybridge instead of Manchester Victoria or Piccadilly as the ‘last station stop’.

From the 15 December, Stalybridge will be served by two Transpennine Express trains per hour from Manchester Piccadilly station. The third TPE train will call at Manchester Victoria before continuing to Liverpool Lime Street. Therefore, the basic timetable will be as follows:

Revised Transpennine Express Stalybridge train timetable

Stalybridge to Huddersfield, Leeds, Hull Paragon, York and Scarborough

  • Liverpool Lime Street (LIV) – Scarborough (SCA): 18 minutes to the hour;
  • Manchester Piccadilly (MAN) – Hull Paragon (HUL): 10 minutes to the hour;
  • Manchester Piccadilly (MAN) – Huddersfield (HUD): 12 minutes past the hour.

Stalybridge to Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Victoria and Liverpool Lime Street

  • Scarborough (SCA) – Liverpool Lime Street (LIV): 23 minutes to the hour;
  • Hull Paragon (HUL) – Manchester Piccadilly (MAN): 17 minutes to the hour;
  • Huddersfield (HUD) – Manchester Piccadilly (MAN): 22 minutes past the hour.

The end of skipstopageddon?

From Sunday, the universally reviled skip-stop nature of the Huddersfield to Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Piccadilly to Hull Paragon trains will be discontinued. Therefore, TPE’s service will call at all stops meaning the end of Kafkaesque journey times from Mossley (MSL) to Greenfield (GNF).

This should make for a more user-friendly timetable, but these changes wont be enough to convince its hapless commuters. Mossley and Slaithwaite (SWT) stations are the worst railway stations on Network Rail metals for punctuality and reliability. For many passengers from Greenfield and Mossley, the direct link with Ashton-under-Lyne (AHN) remains sorely missed.

Despite recent changes to its stopping pattern, Marsden (MSN) station will remain off-limits for wheelchair users and passengers with pushchairs. All southbound trains are pathed through Platform 2, which lacks the ramped access that Platform 3 has. To increase the ire of the Huddersfield line’s incandescent commuters, all Northern’s peak hour services under the pre-15 December 2019 timetable will be taken over by Transpennine Express.

The stopping service will leave Huddersfield at seven minutes to the hour, arriving in Manchester Piccadilly for twenty-one minutes to the hour. Return journeys will depart from Manchester Piccadilly at two minutes to the hour, arriving in Huddersfield for nineteen minutes to the hour. Hence:

Manchester Piccadilly to Huddersfield

  • Manchester Piccadilly: 2 minutes to the hour;
  • Stalybridge: 12 minutes past the hour;
  • Mossley: 17 minutes past the hour;
  • Greenfield: 22 minutes past the hour;
  • Marsden: half past the hour;
  • Slaithwaite: 26 minutes to the hour;
  • Huddersfield: 19 minutes to the hour.

Huddersfield to Manchester Piccadilly

  • Huddersfield: 7 minutes to the hour;
  • Slaithwaite: on the hour;
  • Marsden: 5 past the hour;
  • Greenfield: 14 minutes past the hour;
  • Mossley: 18 minutes past the hour;
  • Stalybridge: 22 minutes past the hour;
  • Manchester Piccadilly: 21 minutes to the hour.

To reflect these changes, the departure times of Nexus Move’s 356 Saddleworth Rambler service have also been changed. Buses to Denshaw will leave Greenfield at 0736 (SX), then five to the hour from 0855 to 1555, on the hour from 1700 to 2200 and 2325 (FO).

In the opposite direction, buses will arrive at 0735 (SX), 0835 (SX), 0850 (SO), then ten to the hour from 0950 to 1650. Subsequent journeys will arrive at Greenfield station at five to the hour from 1755 to 2255.

Northern services from Stalybridge

What about the StalyVegas Shuttle to Manchester Victoria? Well, there are no real changes compared with the May 2018 Grayling Amendment other than slight retimings.

The Wigan North Western service, once diagrammed for the forthcoming Class 769 bi-mode units, will see some changes. Instead of going through North Western (which was helpful for InterCity connections and local Preston trains), they will use Wigan Wallgate. Thereafter, they will continue to Southport.

Southport to Wigan Wallgate, Bolton, Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge

  • Southport: 29 minutes to the hour;
  • Wigan Wallgate: 8 minutes past the hour;
  • Bolton: 26 minutes past the hour;
  • Manchester Victoria: 7 minutes to the hour and 21 minutes past the hour;
  • Ashton-under-Lyne: 3 minutes past the hour and 29 minutes to the hour;
  • Stalybridge: 6 minutes past the hour and 25 minutes to the hour.

Stalybridge to Manchester Victoria, Bolton, Wigan Wallgate and Southport

  • Stalybridge: 29 minutes to the hour and on the hour;
  • Ashton-under-Lyne: 25 minutes to the hour and 4 minutes past the hour;
  • Manchester Victoria: 14 minutes to the hour and quarter past the hour;
  • Bolton: 13 minutes past the hour;
  • Wigan Wallgate: 24 minutes to the hour;
  • Southport: 9 minutes past the hour.

We could safely say that the Stalybridge to Manchester Victoria Sunday trains will be cancelled and replaced by buses or coaches till kingdom come. Then again, who knows?

If in the unlikely event of there being any Sunday trains, they will leave Stalybridge at three minutes past the hour before arriving in Ashton-under-Lyne three minutes later. Instead of continuing to Southport, they will terminate at Wigan North Western. Another difference is the fact they will not be calling at Clifton, Kearsley, Farnworth, Moses Gate, and Ince stations.

Other Northern Services

There has been some slight retiming changes to the Manchester Piccadilly – Hadfield/Glossop and the Manchester Piccadilly – Rose Hill Marple/New Mills Central timetables.

As for the Stockport to Stalybridge route, which has the one return journey on Saturdays, the times have been changed. From Stockport, the Stalybridge train leaves an hour later (86 minutes later from Stalybridge) than under the previous timetable. The revised timetable is as follows:

  • Stockport: 1043;
  • Reddish South: 1048x;
  • Denton: 1048x;
  • Guide Bridge: arr. 1057, dep. 1058;
  • Stalybridge: 1103.

In the opposite direction…

  • Stalybridge: 1012;
  • Guide Bridge: 1018;
  • Denton: 1023x;
  • Reddish South: 1026x;
  • Stockport: 1033.

Please note that ‘x’ means this station is a Request Stop. To board, hail the oncoming train in the same way as you would if catching a bus.

Where next?

Will the latest service changes improve reliability on our railway lines? We shall see. Somebody should sort out Marsden station as soon as possible and spend a few quid on improving overall accessibility along all three platforms.

S.V., 13 December 2019.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. K. Booth says:

    Why oh why can’t we have a regular train to Stockport? Thus relieving stress on the Manchester lines?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi K. Booth,

      The answer as to why this is the case dates back to May 1989. After British Rail opened the Windsor Link between Ordsall Lane and Salford Crescent, a lot of through trains that previously used Manchester Victoria station were transferred to Manchester Piccadilly. This in part led to the congestion at Platforms 13 and 14 culminating in those dreaded red lines.

      Before then, to avoid crossing Manchester city centre, London-bound passengers from Huddersfield or Stalybridge could take a regular Stalybridge – Stockport train to the latter station and board their InterCity train to Euston. Back in 1988, the line enjoyed an hourly service, when the only Ashton-under-Lyne – Manchester Victoria trains ran in peak hours. Outside the peaks, the Manchester Piccadilly – London Euston trains ran every 90 minutes: a far cry from today’s 20 minute frequency on Avanti West Coast.

      Another fringe benefit of the Stalybridge – Stockport train was additional connections with Glossop, New Mills, Marple, Buxton, and Sheffield. You could have changed at Stockport and continued to Manchester Piccadilly station from there.

      After 1989, the service was cut to five trains on weekdays and Saturdays (two one way, three in the other direction). Despite a 12,000 name petition, the service was cut to one train a week in the run-up to privatisation. In May 2018, its service was doubled, taking us to today’s solitary Saturday return journey.

      As BR experienced, and forecasted continued decline of its passenger network outside London, they thought it was a good idea to cut Manchester Victoria’s through platforms and turn it into a provincial station instead of an InterCity one. Despite being a valuable facility, the Manchester Arena is now a barrier to hindering the construction of new through lines in Manchester Victoria station.

      What’s more, I do agree with the need for an upgraded Stalybridge – Stockport service. Perhaps once hourly to Manchester Victoria with another hourly train to Stalybridge (two trains per hour between Denton and Stockport). One problem is that the track needs to be redoubled – and (from Heaton Norris to Reddish South) re-quadrupled. Most of the line is single track.

      There is one problem: where’s the funding going to come from, being as North West England rail funding is way behind that for London and South East England? If anything in the next five years, I think the gap might get wider.

      Warmly,

      Stuart.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Douglas says:

    The one thing you have missed is that the Manchester to Hull trains will call at all stations between Stalybridge and Huddersfield for three hours in the morning and evening peaks, in both directions. This gives through trains to Leeds, and restores the half-hourly peak service that existed for about 30 years until May 2018.

    In theory it’s a big improvement on what has existed since May 2018, and something which Stalybridge to Huddersfield Rail Users’ Group have been pushing for since 2017. Whether TPE will be able to operated it competently is quite another matter. Their performance since August doesn’t inspire confidence. But at least if one is cancelled during the peak period it should only be a half-hour wait until the next one, a comment which perhaps reflects TPEs success in lowering passenger expectations.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. scuzzmonster says:

    Other than the very short distance between Ashton and Stalybridge, is there any good reason why Transpennine Express couldn’t stop at Ashton? Ashton is a bigger town, after all. TPE could even alternate between the two, perhaps? Someone once told me it was something to do with Ashton being a ‘Northern station’ which didn’t quite ring true, especially as TPE now runs beyond Middlesbrough to Redcar which has been a Northern station for as long as I can remember or, if not Northern, then Class 142 Pacers or their boneshaking descendants. As with the Stockport service from Stalybridge, joined-up thinking on the transport network in not something we excel at in this country, though it’s more than likely to do with the bottom line than it is common sense.

    Like

    1. Hi Mick,

      I always wondered that myself. I think the Newcastle Central service should have two extra stops at Ashton-under-Lyne and Stalybridge. This could give Ashtonians (and Bridgeites) a direct link to Manchester Airport. The StalyVegas shuttle could be withdrawn (as the inclusion of Stalybridge and Ashton to TPE’s Newcastle service could save a track path). Or it could be absorbed as part of an all-stations service to Kirkby (via the Atherton line) with two trains per hour to Wigan Wallgate.

      Furthermore, if you add Ashton and Stalybridge stations to TPE’s Newcastle – Manchester Airport train on Sundays, this could replace Northern’s Sunday ‘service’. Which, due to rostering issues, has been the subject of bustitution for the last two years.

      As for Redcar Central station, there are still Northern services to Saltburn-by-the-Sea as well as TPE trains to Manchester Airport. If you are travelling to Redcar for the races, TPE’s extension can be a useful addition.

      Like Stalybridge, Redcar Central has passing loops. East of the station, there is a runaround loop and a siding suitable for the stabling of loco-hauled trains. On the eastbound platform (2), there is a short bidirectional section with a set of points that lead to the Middlebrough line. Northern services use both the westbound (1) and eastbound (2) platforms.

      Mossley station is different again. All trains are operated by Transpennine Express, though Northern still manages the railway station. Ditto the above with Marsden, Slaithwaite and Greenfield.

      Till the package holiday boom came, Redcar was a popular holiday resort along with its neighbouring village Coatham. There used to be summer services from Manchester to Redcar and Saltburn-by-the-Sea in the early years of British Railways. As for Saltburn station, it used to be a grand undertaking with its terminus offering a seamless connection (for First Class ticket holders) with the Zetland Hotel.

      In 1974, the station was reduced to its modest status as an unstaffed halt. Thankfully, the old station buildings and the former Zetland Hotel remain in use – albeit for retail and residential activities.

      Warmly,

      Stuart.

      Liked by 1 person

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