In December 2009 FOWS celebrated a major breakthrough on our campaign to re-introduce Sunday services to the Walkden line. At a meeting of the Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority funding for a one-year trial of Sunday services, to begin in May 2010, was approved. The decision was successful culmination to several years of planning and commercial negotiations between the Authority and Northern Rail.
The trial service was launched on May 23rd 2010 and provides an hourly service between Manchester and Wigan, running until around 6pm in the evening. These trains offer the first passenger service on the Walkden line for over 40 years and are a great boost to the rail users of not just Walkden, but the other major towns along the route like Swinton and Atherton.
GMITA funding for the Sunday service has been confirmed until May 2016. FOWS have the challenge of ensuring that Sunday trains are written into the contract for the next Northern franchise which begins in 2016.
FOWS' campaign for Sunday services has been actively supported by numerous local politicians, in particular Barbara Keeley MP who has met with Northern Rail and the DfT several times, and Salford councillors Ian Macdonald and Iain Lindley who have worked determinedly for several years to help achieve the launch of this service.
The station is only staffed from 0645 to 1400, and used to be an intimidating place after dark or when fewer passengers are around. In the past vandalism was common with graffiti on the walls, damage to the flower beds, and theft of the litter bins (pictured) the most usual casualties.
In September 2010 Northern Rail and Salford City Council's Community Committee for Little Hulton and Walkden agreed to split the cost of installing CCTV on the platforms and in the Booking Hall, triggering a dramatic drop in the incidence of anti-social behaviour at the station.
A year later in September 2011 Northern Rail upgraded the 3-camera system with an extra 6 cameras, improving passenger security at the station even further.
In summer 2013 Network Rail raised the platform level to remedy the large gap that used to exist between carriage doors and the platform (see picture, right).
We're delighted this 6-year campaign has been brought to such a successful conclusion !
Until 2011 there were no monitors at Walkden meaning passengers were often unaware of delays or cancellations.
In Dec 2009 a local PA system was installed at Walkden. Our thanks to Steve Magner at GMPTE for delivering this valuable improvement to the station.
Latest status ...(December 2011) Walkden has been fitted with electronic train information boards and automated train announcements.
Parking for passengers is very limited with nearby Park Road suffering the worst congestion. Considering the station's large catchment area (which includes Walkden, Worsley, Boothstown, Little Hulton and Astley, amongst other areas), the demand for a station car park is obvious.
In December 2007 FOWS wrote to Salford Council asking that some of the land proposed for housing development along Holyoake Road be used as a station car park. The request was rejected, meaning that congestion and parking problems in the area are likely to get worse. FOWS continues to press local councillors to find a solution to this worsening problem.
The Holyoake Road development was approved by Salford City Council without any provision for commuter parking. Unfortunately this can only mean the dire lack of parking available around the station - and the disruption to local residents and business - is set to get worse. Meanwhile Salford City Council have extended the area of double-yellow lines along Park Road to ease local road congestion, but this has deprived commuters of some of the closest parking spaces to the station. Salford and GMPTE have no plan to provide alternative parking.
Walkden Road runs immediately past the station entrance and is very busy during the rush hours. Crossing the road can be time-consuming and dangerous for passengers as drivers show little inclination to stop where there is no marked road-crossing or warning signs. The overhead bridges make the area outside the entrance gloomy and add to the dangerous situation.
In February 2008 FOWS engaged with Salford City Council and the local Walkden Road Traders Group to devise solutions for the safety, parking and congestion problems around the station.
(8 Aug 2008) Discussions with Salford City Council started well and in spring 2008 they conducted a survey of passengers crossing the road outside the station. Although the survey showed many people crossing outside the station, the planners concluded that installing a crossing to assist them would cause too much disruption to road traffic. We are sceptical that the planners will make any road traffic management changes to benefit pedestrians and rail travellers if there is any possible disadvantage to car drivers.
(May 2009) Salford City Council have completed some improvement work on the roads outside the station, laying a new surface and installing new bollards and fences. However, FOWS' top priorities - a pedestrian crossing, improved lighting under the bridge, signs to warn drivers of pedestrians crossing the road - have not been met.
For passengers from Walkden travelling to Manchester Piccadilly or the airport, connection times at Salford Crescent vary widely. For trains leaving Walkden at around half-past the hour, the wait is usually 20 minutes or more.
FOWS have lobbied Northern Rail for better connections to the south of the city for all trains from Walkden.
FOWS have contacted Network Rail regarding signalling arrangements at Salford Crescent, suggesting a change that might allow some Victoria and Piccadilly bound trains to call at Salford Crescent simultaneously and thereby offer better connections for passengers on both services.
In spring 2008 FOWS sent a list of suggestions (download as a PDF) to Northern Rail for relatively cheap and easily achieved "tweaks" to the timetable that could be a huge difference to the quality of service from the station. Unfortunately all the ideas where rejected for reasons ranging from timetabling difficulty to the fear of confusing passengers with a choice of direct service destinations !
FOWS proposals to improve evening connections at Manchester Victoria were adopted by Northern Rail from December 2012, but further suggestions for changes to improve connectivity from Walkden to Piccadilly and the Airport are still under consideration.
The entrance hall and platforms at Walkden could be enhanced by measures such as repainting and decorating, removal of lineside litter, and the installation of facilities like bike lockers and more litter bins.
As the picture shows, trackside litter, peeling paintwork and overgrown tracks give a general feeling of scruffiness to the station environment. The staff at Walkden do a fantastic job of cleaning up litter every day, but these are problems in areas where the staff are not allowed to go.
Since 2007 GMPTE have been working towards the installation of bike lockers.
(10 Dec 2007) FOWS have renovated and planted up flower beds on both platforms, and are pursuing more funding to install planters and baskets on the open areas of the platform.
(30 May 2008) FOWS have used a grant from Salford City Council's "In Bloom" fund to install three large planters on the open area of platform between the canopy and wooden fence. The planters have been built by J. Hughes of Monton and planted up with materials from Linnyshaw Garden Centre.
(Oct 2008) FOWS continue to clean the station at weekends and have recently replanted the Manchester flower bed with winter colour. We also offered to repaint the dirty walls in the station entrance hall and stairways, but were not granted approval by Northern Rail.
(Dec 2008) FOWS secured a second In Bloom grant from Salford City Council. The money was used to install two new steel planters at the east (Swinton) end of the platform, install a new flower bed at the west (Atherton) end, refresh the flower beds on both platforms, and provide winter wreaths for the nearby Walkden Road Traders in order to improve the environment in and around the station.
(Nov 2009) Network Rail complete extensive repairs to the entire length of roof from the street entrance, through the Booking Hall, Ticket Office and associated rooms, and up the steps to the platform. The stairway and booking hall walls have also been repainted during as part of the project.
(Dec 2009) GMPTE installed a station tannoy.
(May 2010) Northern Rail installed anti-pigeon netting in the station canopy and completed a range of other improvements to coincide with the Sunday Service launch gala. These included deep cleaning, repainting, and installing new panels in the platform shelter.
(Sept. 2010) After a summer of thefts and vandalism Northern Rail, with joint funding from the Little Hulton and Walkden Community Committee, installed CCTV on the platforms and in the Booking Hall.
(March 2011) A Northern Rail grant is used by FOWS to plant the station borders and planters with spring colour.
(Sept 2011) Northern Rail install a further 6 CCTV cameras taking the station's conplement to 9.
(Dec 2011) Electronic information boards are installed.
(March 2012) Platform extended by Northern Rail to accommodate 4-carriage trains.
(July 2012) Entrance hall and stairways re-painted by Northern Rail.
(Nov 2012) More "In Bloom" planters installed by FOWS.
(Jun 2014) More "In Bloom" planters installed by FOWS.
(Aug 2014) More "In Bloom" planters installed by FOWS.
(May 2015) Final set of 4 "In Bloom" planters installed by FOWS.
One of the most common complaints made to FOWS is that the 48 steps in the station entrance make it completely inaccessible to wheelchair users - and difficult to access for anyone with restricted mobility or indeed just travelling with a pushchair or pram.
Walkden station can only be accessed by climbing two sets of stairs from street level, rendering it practically inaccessible for many disabled people. Northern Rail's Guide for Customers with Disabilities states that a taxi will be provided to convey disabled passengers to or from the nearest accessible station (Atherton) or an intermediate point as required by the passenger. However, FOWS believe that Walkden station should be accessible to all passengers who wish to use it and would like lifts or ramps installed such as those at stations along the Piccadilly-Manchester Airport line.
Please see our Disabled Access page for more details.
A common complaint amongst regular passengers is that on-board ticket inspections are not made regularly enough, allowing valuable revenue to go uncollected. FOWS believe that a strong fare collection policy is in the best interests of all legitimate users of the local rail service.
FOWS are pleased to note that under Northern Rail's management ticket inspections are conducted more regularly and barrier checks in Manchester and Salford are much more comprehensive. However, there are still too many trains - especially in the evening when the Booking Office is closed - where inspections are not performed and revenue that could be used to invest in the service is lost.