Passenger Numbers

This page gives details of the number of people using Walkden station.

Rail passenger numbers have grown dramatically across the country in recent years, and regular passengers from Walkden will be familiar with the rocketing demand experienced here - and the over-crowding that results.

To quantify how services from Walkden are being used and how demand is changing over time, each November FOWS volunteers conduct a count of passengers boarding and alighting each train from the first train of the day (the 06.29 to Manchester) until 1.30pm. GMPTE have also kindly shared the results of their annual passenger counts on stations in the Greater Manchester area, which enables us to make comparisons with other stations. Both the FOWS and GMPTE surveys are conducted on weekday mornings in November.


FOWS Survey 2016

The Passenger Count was held on Thursday 17th November and revealed a significant (25%) decline from 683 to 506 people boarding or alighting at the station from the start of services until 13:30. Weather conditions and service reliability were good on the day, and we suggest the unprecendented downturn is a direct result of passengers in southern Walkden and Ellenbrook migrating to the new Guided Busway.

Peak/Off-Peak and Inbound/Outbound Trends

The drop in patronage was fairly evenly distributed across all time slots and directions of travel.

Punctuality

Bucking the trend of recent weeks, punctuality was good with only 3 of the 31 trains more than 4 minutes late.

Over-crowding

Short forming the 0757 to Manchester (running 2 carriages instead of the usual 4) led to delays and severe over-crowding on this and the following service, however all passengers were able to board.

Graphs

The graphs below give a train-by-train picture of the passenger volumes at Walkden.


Passengers Boarding/Total Passengers Boarding or Alighting, FOWS Passenger Surveys, 2007-2016
Passengers Boarding/Alighting Trains Toward Manchester, FOWS 2016 Survey


Passengers Boarding/Alighting Trains Toward Wigan, FOWS 2016 Survey


FOWS Survey 2015

The Passenger Count was held on Thursday 21st November and revealed a small (4%) decline from 714 to 683 people boarding or alighting at the station from the start of services until 13:30.

Peak and Off-Peak Trends

"Pre-peak" (trains before 0730) and "Peak" (trains from 0730 to 0930) were virtually unchanged from the previous year with 16 more pre-peak travellers and one less peak. But the main change was a drop of 20% (46 passengers) travelling on Off Peak services after 0930. It is tempting to ascribe this to the unpleasant weather conditions on the day which probably dissuaded some people from making "leisure" trips.

Inbound and Outbound Flows

Travel towards Wigan was virtually unchanged from 2014, but numbers into Manchester were hit by the drop in off-peak travel and fell by 32.

Punctuality

Continuing the November trend, punctuality was poor with only 1 of the 31 trains departing on time. The average delay was 5 minutes.

Northern Rail suffered particularly acute "leaf fall" problems this November due to still, damp conditions causing leaves to stick to lines longer.

Over-crowding

Seven trains were “full & standing” and 32 passengers were denied boarding.

Graphs

The graphs below give a train-by-train picture of the passenger volumes at Walkden.

For full details of passenger numbers for each train, please see our 2015 passenger count results.

Passengers Boarding/Alighting Trains Toward Manchester, FOWS 2015 Survey


Passengers Boarding/Alighting Trains Toward Wigan, FOWS 2015 Survey


FOWS Survey 2014

The 2014 Passenger Count was held on Thursday 20th Novemberand revealed the tiniest of declines in overall passenger numbers using the station: a decrease from 711 to 707 people boarding or alighting at the station from the start of services until 13:30.

Peak and Off-Peak Trends

There was a small swing from Off-Peak to Peak travel, with 20 new peak travellers almost exactly offset by 17 less off-peak. This is the first rise in peak travel we have recorded since 2010, and may perhaps be due to the current high levels of road congestion caused by the A580 Guided Busway construction work.

Note that the third train of the morning to Manchester moved from 0738 to 0719 this year, causing an apparent swing of 70 passengers from the Peak to Pre-Peak statistics.

Inbound and Outbound Flows

There was a similar swing between towards Manchester and Wigan: trains towards Manchester served an extra 46 passengers while trains towards Wigan served 40 less. This fall may be partly explained by fewer students travelling from Walkden to Pemberton college since their direct morning service was lost this year.

Punctuality

Punctuality was good: the maximum delay was 10 minutes, the average only 2 minutes, and just 1 service was cancelled.

Over-crowding

Five trains were “full & standing” but no passengers were denied boarding this year.

Graphs

The graphs below give a train-by-train picture of the passenger volumes at Walkden.

For full details of passenger numbers for each train, please see our 2014 passenger count results.

Passengers Boarding/Alighting Trains Toward Manchester, FOWS 2014 Survey


Passengers Boarding/Alighting Trains Toward Wigan, FOWS 2014 Survey


FOWS Survey 2013

The 2013 Passenger Count was held on Thursday 21st November, reverting to its traditional late November slot. The figures revealed a 7% increase in total passenger numbers, taking them back to 2011's record high.

Peak and Off-Peak Trends

Peak travel was level with last year (down 0.5%) but off-peak saw a 22% rise to 257, exceeding even 2011's 240, and suggesting off-peak travel is continuing to grow whereas peak travel has declined slightly every year since 2010.

Inbound and Outbound Flows

Travel toward Manchester was up 14% in contrast to a 14% fall in the Wigan direction, raising the possibility that extra passengers using the train to avoid the East Lancs roadworks are masking a flat or falling underlying trend.

Punctuality

Only 2 of the 31 trains arrived at their scheduled times, and 1 was cancelled. The average delay was 6 minutes.

Over-crowding

Several trains were “full & standing”, even during the mid-morning “off-peak” period, and 15 passengers were left behind when the 0759 was too crowded to board. When the delayed express arrived at Walkden 7 minutes later with plenty of room on board the passengers were not allowed to board even though the train spent several minutes alongside the platform waiting for a signal.

The graphs below give a train-by-train picture of the passenger volumes at Walkden.

For full details of passenger numbers for each train, please see our 2013 passenger count results.


Passengers Boarding/Alighting Trains Toward Manchester, FOWS 2013 Survey


Passengers Boarding/Alighting Trains Toward Wigan, FOWS 2013 Survey


FOWS Survey 2012

The 2012 Passenger Count was held on Thursday 8th November, two weeks earlier than in previous years. For the first time since our surveys began in 2007 the figures revealed a fall of 7% in the number of people using the station.

Looking at the breakdown for this year's figures, it appears the additional coaches introduced to peak services in December 2011 have helped keep numbers high despite the continued economic depression. Off-peak services saw a 12.5% drop which we believe may be explained by the survey taking place earlier in November and therefore picking up less Christmas shopping traffic.


Passengers Boarding/Total Passengers Boarding or Alighting, FOWS Passenger Surveys, 2007-2012

The graph (left) shows 4 years of growth preceding 2012's small decline.

The graphs below give a train-by-train picture of the passenger volumes at Walkden.

For full details of passenger numbers for each train, please see our 2012 passenger count results.


Passengers Boarding/Alighting Trains Toward Manchester, FOWS 2012 Survey


Passengers Boarding/Alighting Trains Toward Wigan, FOWS 2012 Survey


FOWS Survey 2011

The 2011 Passenger Count was held on Thursday 24th November and yet again revealed a remarkable increase in the number of people using the station. This year the increase was just over 20% - a quite incredible rise against a backdrop of economic stagnation, job losses, and above-inflation fare rises.

The rise since FOWS' first passenger count in 2007 is an amazing 66%. During this time one extra rush-hour train has been added - the majority of the extra passengers having squeezed on to increasingly over-crowded services.

Looking at the breakdown for this year's figures, it appears peak service have reached saturation point: pre-peak and off-peak services have seen passenger growth of 54% and 83% respectively - while peak numbers dropped very slightly by 2%. We believe this is explained by commuters being forced to make their journeys earlier or later to avoid the most over-crowded services.


Passengers Boarding/Total Passengers Boarding or Alighting, FOWS Passenger Surveys, 2007-2011

The graph (left) shows the pre-peak, peak, and off-peak passengers for the last 5 years of FOWS surveys, and this year's explosion in non-peak travel is plainly visible.

The graphs below give a train-by-train picture of the passenger volumes at Walkden.

For full details of passenger numbers for each train, please see our 2011 passenger count results.


Passengers Boarding/Alighting Trains Toward Manchester, FOWS 2011 Survey


Passengers Boarding/Alighting Trains Toward Wigan, FOWS 2011 Survey


FOWS Survey 2010

The 2010 Passenger Count on Thursday 11th November was quite the most eventful yet after a night of wet and windy weather deposited piles of slippery leaves on the track. From the first train of the day until 10am nearly every train was delayed by 20-30 minutes and a couple did not even stop at Walkden. From 07.50 to 08.30 there were no departures toward Manchester and the platform was packed with waiting passengers.

Then, to add to the mounting confusion for our volunteer counter, a pair of drunks arrived at the station and became abusive with passengers and staff, eventually punching a waiting commuter. At this point our volunteer abandoned counting to assist the victim and call the Transport Police.

As a result we have only rough estimates for the two busiest departures of the morning which makes it difficult to draw any confident conclusions from the count. Overall we found passenger numbers 13% up on last year (including the estimated figures). If we apply a "caution factor" of 25% to the estimated figures, we still find overall patronage very slightly up on 2009, which our friends at Northern Rail have confirmed matches their passenger statistics.

One feature of the graphs below that stands out immediately is the inbound peak is much more pronounced than in previous years. This can be explained by the fact that the trains were running late and therefore the two trains scheduled at 07.59 and 08.18 actually picked up all the passengers who arrived at the station between 07.50 and 09.00 - a period normally served by four trains.

Off-peak numbers are 30% lower than 2009: we believe this is almost certainly due to the unpleasant weather and late-running trains which probably acted as deterents to the leisure and non-essential travel that forms a higher proportion of off-peak traffic.

For full details of passenger numbers for each train, please see our 2010 passenger count results.


Passengers Boarding/Alighting Trains Toward Manchester, FOWS 2010 Survey


Passengers Boarding/Alighting Trains Toward Wigan, FOWS 2010 Survey


FOWS Survey 2009

The FOWS Passenger Count of 2009 took place on the morning of Thursday 12th November and revealed passenger numbers still on the increase despite this year's economic downturn.

As ever, our figures only present a snapshot from one particular morning, but by picking a Thursday morning in early November we try to keep the basis for year-on-year comparisons as even as possible.

The key results from this year's survey were:

The most glaring anomaly on the charts below is the dip in numbers boarding the 0818 toward Manchester. This train was too full to accept all passengers, but even if the 20 people who were denied boarding had been accommodated it would still have taken less passengers than those trains immediately before and after it. We suspect this indicates passengers are avoiding this particular service because their chances of being denied boarding are too high to make it a reliable option. At this time of the morning we really need all trains to be at least 4 carriages long, but unfortunately there is more capacity heading out of Manchester (toward Wigan) than in where it is most needed.

FOWS believe that for passenger numbers to have continued growing, albeit at a slower rate, after a year of economic recession is compelling evidence of the potential demand for rail services from Walkden.

Undoubtedly Northern Rail's achievements in improving punctuality and reliability have been a key factor in Walkden's continued boom, something for which they deserve great credit. However, the fact that commuters are regularly being crammed into hopelessly over-crowded trains, or failing to board at all, demonstrates how much more capacity is needed on this service.

For full details of passenger numbers for each train, please see our 2009 passenger count results.


Passengers Boarding/Alighting Trains Toward Manchester, FOWS 2009 Survey


Passengers Boarding/Alighting Trains Toward Wigan, FOWS 2009 Survey


FOWS Survey 2008

The FOWS Passenger Count of 2008 took place on the morning of Thursday 20th November (the closest Thursday to the anniversary of last year's survey).

Total passenger numbers for the survey session - boarding or alighting, on Manchester or Wigan bound trains - showed a massive 19% increase over last year. During the morning peak the growth was even more dramatic - up a staggering 23% between 0730 and 0930. Although our survey can only offer a "snapshot" of passenger demand, the news of more year-on-year increases will be no surprise to regular passengers.

Of course, the vast majority of morning travel to/from Walkden is commuter traffic to Manchester. This year's figure of 227 people boarding Manchester-bound trains in the morning peak means that this traffic has more than doubled in just 4 years.

Thanks in part to the additional 0818 service (the Atherton express that now calls at Walkden on a regular "exceptional" basis), only one passenger was unable to board during the morning, but with an incredible 100 people squeezing on to the already full 0801 the levels of discomfort can easily be imagined. Regular passengers will know that services are even more crowded earlier in the week.

The mix of trains in use showed a slight increase in capacity and comfort over last year's survey, with the most common type of train being the medium-sized class 150 (45% of services). Longer-bodied class 156's made up 24% of services, with the unpopular class 142 "bone-shakers" down to 31% of services from over 50% last year. On the other hand, the number of 4-carriage trains dropped from 2 last year to just one this time (the 0818 Atherton express).

Passengers Boarding/Alighting Trains Toward Manchester, FOWS 2008 Survey


Passengers Boarding/Alighting Trains Toward Wigan, FOWS 2008 Survey



FOWS Survey 2007

The FOWS Passenger Count of 2007 took place on a cold Thursday morning, the 22nd November. Passenger numbers were relatively light on the day, possibly due to the fact that dozens of commuters had been unable to board over-crowded trains the day before. On the day of the survey many trains were full to capacity but no passengers were unable to board.

Of 22 trains, just over half (12) were formed by the unpopular "Pacer" class 142 trains. 6 trains were formed from slightly larger class 150 units, and just 4 were the longer-bodied class 156 units. All but two trains comprised of just two carriages.

The two charts below show the number of passengers boarding and alighting from each train during the survey hours of 06.29 to 13.30. Unsurprisingly services toward Manchester were far busier than toward Wigan in the morning, and the rush hour peak can clearly be seen with 72 passengers managing to squeeze aboard the two carriages of the 0801 which was already carrying dozens of standing passengers when it arrived at Walkden.

Passengers Boarding/Alighting Trains Toward Manchester, FOWS 2007 Survey

Passengers Boarding/Alighting Trains Toward Wigan, FOWS 2007 Survey



Comparison of Passenger Numbers at Stations Along the Atherton Line

Comparative chart of passengers boarding at stations along the Atherton line.

This chart compares passenger numbers from GMPTE's surveys over the past 17 years.

It can be seen that passenger numbers have grown markedly in recent years at virtually all stations.

In terms of comparison with other stations on the line, Walkden is second only to Atherton and - very narrowly - Daisy Hill.

Walkden is clearly busier than Hindley, Hag Fold, Moorside and Swinton.