Local Rail Passenger Numbers Rise Despite Punctuality and Reliability Issues

Despite Transpennine Express’ and Northern’s crises, more people are taking to the trains in Tameside and Glossop

The latest ORR (Office of the Rail Regulator) figures for the Entries and Exits of our railway stations have been released for 2018 – 2019. Given the kerfuffle caused by delayed rail projects in Central Manchester and the imposition of Skipstopageddon on the Huddersfield line, the figures should make for interesting reading.

Across the UK, there has been a slight increase in rail journeys. From Penzance to Thurso, over three billion journeys have been made by rail. In spite of Northern’s and Transpennine Express’ well documented problems, there has been a rise in patronage in Northern England. In Tameside and Glossop, rail is pretty much in rude health.

Entries and exits in railway stations across Tameside and Glossop

It may come to no surprise as to where Tameside’s Number One railway station is: Stalybridge (468th place across the UK). 1,244,122 entrances and exits have been made at Stalybridge railway station. In the High Peak, top dog is Glossop station (525th place), due to the Hadfield line’s status as a popular commuter route. 1,114,454 entrances and exits have been made at Glossop – more than at Buxton where the figure is 345,596.

Hadfield’s total for the last year is 400,912, making it the third most used railway station in Tameside and Glossop. This is followed by Guide Bridge with 382,542 entrances and exits (1,047th place) and Mossley (336,906 entrances and exits, 1,123rd place). Of the top five stations, Glossop made the biggest climb from being 592nd to 525th place.

The Top Ten

  1. Stalybridge: 1,244,122 (468th place – up from 489th place in 2017 – 18);
  2. Glossop: 1,114,454 (525th place – up from 592nd place in 2017 – 18);
  3. Hadfield: 400,912 (1,020th place – up from 1,078th place in 2017 – 18);
  4. Guide Bridge: 382,542 (1,047th place – up from 1,116th place in 2017 – 18);
  5. Mossley: 336,906 (1,123rd place – up from 1,170th place in 2017 – 18);
  6. Ashton-under-Lyne: 326,674 (1,142nd place – down from 1,130th place in 2017 – 18);
  7. Flowery Field: 274,162 (1,243th place – up from 1,335th place in 2017 – 18);
  8. Newton For Hyde: 219,478 (1,349th place – up from 1,461st place in 2017 – 18);
  9. Broadbottom: 197,316 (1,414th place – up from 1,494th place in 2017 – 18);
  10. Dinting: 171,004 (1,487th place – up from 1,542th place in 2017 – 18).

Of the Top Ten stations – and the sixteen stations within Tameside and Glossop, only two stations saw a drop in passenger numbers. Ashton-under-Lyne fell twelve places from 1,130th place down to 1,142nd place. This could well have been affected by the Metrolink service, which saw its daytime frequency doubled from every twelve minutes to every six minutes.

Despite the doubling of its frequency from one train a week to two trains a week, fewer people used Denton station. Last year, there was 70 entries and exits compared with this year’s figure of 46. The equivalent of 0.7 people boarding the once-weekly service per week. What has distorted the figures at Denton is the number of weeks where Northern’s rail strike meant the cancellation of the Stalybridge – Stockport route’s passenger services.

Outside the Top Ten

  1. Hattersley: 111,354 (1,679th place – up from 1,778th place in 2017 – 18);
  2. Hyde Central: 108,708 (1,693rd place – up from 1,713rd place in 2017 – 18);
  3. Godley: 107,450 (1,702nd place – up from 1,768th place in 2017 – 18);
  4. Hyde North: 48,836 (1,990th place – up from 1,991st place in 2017 – 18);
  5. Fairfield: 41,296 (2,046th place – up from 2,074th place in 2017 – 18);
  6. Denton: 47 (2,560th place – down from 2,557th place in 2017 – 18).

Denton’s total entrances and exits of 46 is exactly the same as that for Stanlow and Thornton station on the Helsby – Ellesmere Port. The two stations are the least used railway stations on Network Rail metals. At Stanlow and Thornton, entrance to the station is very limited on any means of transport. Its main road, Oil Sites Road, isn’t open as a public highway.

Denton, on the other hand, is on the northern side of the A57 trunk road and the end of the M67 motorway. There is a frequent bus service that stops nearby, in the form of the 201 from Hattersley to Piccadilly Gardens. The case for improved rail services along the Stockport to Stalybridge line is a no-brainer. A frequent train from Denton to Reddish South would make a difference.

Reddish South (60 entries and exits, ranked in 2,559th place) is closer to the town centre of Reddish than Reddish North. The potential for improving local links as well as having hourly trains to Stalybridge or Manchester Victoria is huge.

Entries and exits at principal railway stations serving parts of Tameside

Huddersfield line stations

  1. Manchester Piccadilly: 30,251,948 (14th place – up from 16th place in 2017 – 18);
  2. Huddersfield: 4,897,612 (104th place – down from 94th place in 2017 – 18);
  3. Greenfield: 398,628 (1,025th place – up from 1,121st place in 2017 – 18);
  4. Slaithwaite: 208,096 (1,378th place – up from 1,382nd place in 2017 – 18);
  5. Marsden: 157,350 (1,525th place – down from 1,518th place in 2017 – 18).

Key to Marsden’s falling figures could well be the change of platform from 3 to 2 on southbound journeys of its stopping service. Before the May 2018 timetable changes, wheelchair users could use the station for Manchester-bound trains. Today, this option no longer exists.

Other principal stations served by trains from Ashton-under-Lyne and Stalybridge

  1. Leeds City: 30,838,554 (12th place – no change on 2017 – 18 figures);
  2. Liverpool Lime Street: 14,221,388 (33rd place – down from 30th place in 2017 – 18);
  3. York: 9,990,538 (43rd place – no change on 2017 – 18 figures);
  4. Manchester Victoria: 8,949,948 (50th place – up from 56th place in 2017 – 18);
  5. Southport: 4,271,792 (124th place – up from 125th place in 2017 – 18);
  6. Bolton: 3,074,022 (192nd place – up from 195th place in 2017 – 18);
  7. Hull Paragon: 2,356,812 (260th place – down from 236th place in 2017 – 18);
  8. Wigan North Western: 1,683,184 (358th place – up from 371st place in 2017 – 18);
  9. Dewsbury: 1,662,850 (365th place – down from 348th place in 2017 – 18);
  10. Wigan Wallgate: 1,551,286 (394th place – down from 393rd place in 2017 – 18);
  11. Salford Crescent: 1,288,586 (453rd place – up from 496th place in 2017 – 18);
  12. Scarborough: 958,026 (603rd place – down from 564th place in 2017 – 18);
  13. Salford Central: 772,844 (698th place – up from 773rd place in 2017 – 18);
  14. Selby: 656,086 (775th place – down from 760th place in 2017 – 18).

If Salford Central was open on Sundays, there’s every chance that entrances and exits could pass the one million mark. How about considering it, Northern? Network Rail? Anyone…? The station is a viable alternative to Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria for getting to central Manchester via Spinningfields. Well, that is if you remember your umbrella for the jump off your train to the platform and the dripping water in the subway.

Despite the shortcomings, why are we still taking the train?

Whilst the service is at its best, speed is a most obvious answer. Even at modest speeds, a short train journey could give the car a run for its money and outperform the bus. In some cases, the train can be a direct replacement for the bus. After 6pm, it is the only way of getting from Mossley to Stalybridge on public transport. Likewise from Greenfield to Huddersfield, but the lack of a bus between the two points at that time means wheelchair users cannot use the train.

In Tameside, local rail services have bridged the gap left by cuts to the bus network. The only way of getting from Hyde to Marple is via Hyde North or Hyde Central stations. Whether the train terminates at Marple or Rose Hill Marple stations, both stations are a hilly walk away from the town centre. If the 389 continued to serve Marple, Romiley and Hyde, low floor buses would have made life easier for the journey.

Given that a fair number of Tameside railway stations lack full access for wheelchair users, even the most basic journeys can be far from seamless. Especially if a rail journey from Hyde to Marple only has step-free access in a southbound direction. Don’t get us started on the issues of switching from one mode to another.

S.V., 15 January 2020.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. scuzzmonster says:

    Those numbers for Leeds are astonishing. Almost as many as they get every home game.

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  2. Bee says:

    Bizarrely, as I live in Gee Cross, I have five stations in Hyde to choose from. I don’t choose any of them. I actually choose Woodley to travel into Macnester as it’s the only one on the 330 route!

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    1. Hi Bee,

      I can understand why you chose Woodley over the five Hydonian stations besides it being on the 330 route. Transferring between Hyde bus station and Hyde Central station is finicky and – if you are a wheelchair user – impossible to use for Manchester-bound journeys. (The ramp up to the Marple platform is pretty steep too).

      As for Hyde bus station in relation to Newton (for Hyde), it is quite a trek and – once again – it lacks wheelchair user access. Unless you are going to Glossop and even then it is some distance from the nearest bus stop (the 346 on Victoria Street). Hyde North, despite being off the 330 route and a modest walk up Johnson Brook Road – has fewer trains than Hyde Central – and no wheelchair user access for Marple trains other than a muddy path from Rutland Street (off Bennett Street in Flowery Field).

      The problem with Hyde’s railway stations is accessibility between train and bus, foot or cycle. Hattersley is probably the most accessible railway station in Hyde, being as part of Hattersley Road West has been diverted towards the station forecourt. It is also the only station with level access for wheelchair users and pushchairs. Apart from the lack of wheelchair access, your choice of station [Woodley] comes close to Hattersley in terms of regular bus links.

      Flowery Field is better in terms of its distance from bus stop to station platform. The 343’s hourly frequency (now daytimes only) stymies its potential as a first choice railway station for passengers from Dukinfield. As for Godley, Hyde Central and Newton stations, you might need an oxygen mask for the stairs.

      What probably puts people off using Hyde North is its bleak setting. If you chose to alight outside The Village, the walk along the forecourt driveway is satisfactory for fully fit passengers. During dark nights, it is the last railway station on earth where you wish to be kept waiting for your train. If you are coming in from Dukinfield (i.e. Cheetham Hill Road, Richmond Park estate, Birch Lane), the walk along Johnson Brook Road is a great advert for sticking with your car. Even more so as the trains finish for 8pm.

      Warmly,

      Stuart.

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  3. Ian Ashwo says:

    I think I was on that Sprinter train from Ashton station, me and the other 340,000. Lol. Seriously though, I happened to travel from Victoria to Ashton mid weekday afternoon, I think it cost me £4.40 single. Shocking: and it was a Pacer train, which was unbelievably poor; awful in fact.

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    1. Hi Ian,

      This is why I prefer to take the tram from Ashton-under-Lyne to Manchester city centre. Though slower, they are every six minutes instead of every half hour. The rolling stock is more modern and consistent. The only time I take a train to Ashton is if I am using Stalybridge railway station on Sundays, because I cannot be bothered waiting for another bus.

      If the trains are cancelled, that half an hour delay till the next one is better spent on a warm tram or bus with free WiFi. For another sixty pence on your £4.40 single, you could have bought a Stagecoach Day Rider for use on the 216 and 219 routes, and countless other Stagecoach routes in Greater Manchester.

      My last journey was on the same Sunday you posted your comment. I was stunned to find that Northern were running trains along the full route from Stalybridge to Wigan North Western. Then again, they would have been in serious doggie doo if they only had buses on that week. Engineering works on the Huddersfield line meant a bus replacement service from Stalybridge to Huddersfield calling at all stops.

      Warmly,

      Stuart.

      Like

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