I spotted this report on the Manchester Evening News political blog of David Ottewell , their chief politcal correspondent. Since the report suggests that the minister, Chris Mole, would like to experience the overcrowding for himself, I thought I’d get in there and make the point that it’s not just the packed trains that put people off; the timetable means that for many, there won’t be a convenient train back. I’ve therefore written the following letter:
I am writing in respect of a Manchester Evening News story from Friday 10th July reporting on the constructive dialogue between Gtr Manchester Integrated Transport Authority delegates and yourself. The report is copied below:
Leading members of Greater Manchester Integrated Authority (GMITA) headed down to London for their ‘showdown’ talks with transport minister Chris Mole.
They were angry that the Department for Transport plans to cut back on the 182 extra train carriages for Northern Rail services, including those covering Greater Manchester.
Apparently the talks were ‘constructive and encouraging’, with Mr Mole ‘listening very carefully’.
He’s even promised to come up to Manchester to experience train overcrowding for himself.
I hope that you don’t mind me attempting to highlight another aspect of the rail service in Manchester at the same time, but I’d hate to miss the opportunity.
I have two stations serving my ward, Humphrey Park and Trafford Park. The 8:14am from Humphrey Park achieved national notoriety a year or so ago as the third most overcrowded in the country.
Trafford Park is the last ‘picking up’ stop on the same commuting journey as Humphrey Park and by definition is even more overcrowded. It’s therefore clear that most authentic overcrowding experience in Gtr Manchester can be found at Trafford Park station.
However, it is not overcrowding that I wish to highlight. In fact, many of the commuters at these two stations consider an overcrowded train still to be a luxury. Their biggest complaint is that the timetable does not provide an adequate off peak service with no trains at all on a Sunday. I particularly highlight Trafford Park as the busier of the two stations.
Trafford Park Station
The station sits in a high density residential area of Stretford (much of which is deprived economically) and offers a convenient regular 7 minute journey to the city centre in rush hour period only. It is also the most convenient station for supporters coming from the west e.g. Warrington / Widnes etc for Old Trafford football ground which is about 10mins walk from the station.
I must distinguish between the express Trans Pennine services and local services originating at Warrington or Irlam. These local (non express) trains are running regularly during the off peak period and on Sundays, but on the whole they don’t stop at Trafford Park. This is particularly galling considering that:
- Manchester United play so many of their matches on a Sunday, so the option of using the train rather than the car never becomes a habit.
- Part time workers can’t use the train to commute as they are unlikely to find the timetable provides a convenient two way option.
There are two ironies to this; the local trains that trundle through without stopping are not crowded, and at peak times when the overcrowding occurs, the timetable is actually quite good; trains stop half hourly rather than the 120-150 minute frequency during the off-peak.
From my point of view as a ward councillor, I see the Trafford Park station as a squandered resource. It sits in a vicinity requiring a catalyst for regeneration. It is not served by bus services. We have this wonderful facility that other areas only dream about, but we can’t take advantage of it because the operators won’t add an extra 90 seconds to the journey time, allowing the train to be used by the people of Stretford.
I hope that you will take the opportunity to experience the peak-time overcrowding at Trafford Park, but I hope that you will also look beyond the peak-time commute; to see what really needs to happen to allow this wonderful resource to be used by the people ofStretford.
Your very best wishes
Councillor Mike Cordingley
Labour Member for Gorse Hill Ward
First Published 12 July 2009