Thursday, November 06, 2008

All change! (The short version).

Earlier, I wrote this long detailed version of the changes to the Blackrod timetable. If you have any thoughts on this, perhaps add them in the comments below. If you would like to join the e-mail list for the Friends of Blackrod Station (an occasional e-mail group to keep people informed of changes to the service), click here to send me an e-mail.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too am none too chuffed about the proposed changes to the Blackrod service. It actually causes me a lifestyle issue. At present, I use the 8.11 service from Blackrod to Oxford Road Station. Instead of doing the usual 9 till 5, I have half an hour for lunch and leave at 4.30 to get the 4.56 service from Oxford Road to Blackrod. This gets me home for a respectable 5.35. I do this to spend that "extra bit" of quality time with my daughter who goes to bed at 8.00 pm.
With the new time table and major station changes, it means that I will have to go back to working 9 till 5, as there is no longer a suitable train in the evening which goes to Blackrod as the 16.56 (now 16.58) from Oxford Road, will no longer stop at Blackrod. When I say 9 till 5, in essence, I can see this adding an extra hour at least to my working day. Let me explain. Firstly, we have the new 8.10 from Blackrod to Manchester Victoria. This will get me in (allegedly) at 8.46 at Victoria. Even if it does run on time (highly unlikely), the problems transiting the station, as no doubt we will be arriving and departing on the platform furthest away from civilisation, and getting from Victoria to my place of work, mean that I will in no way be turning up for 9.00 o'clock. After a few weeks of disapproving glances and back handed comments from my work colleagues for constantly turning in late, I can see that I will have to head for the 07.40 (which goes to Oxford Road/Piccadilly!), thus meaning that I will have to drop my daughter off half an hour earlier in the morning. I'm fortunate that I have her grandfather who takes her to school and picks her up. Others with this problem, will not be as lucky.
Turning to the evening, as explained, I can no longer get a train at about 5.00 o'clock. The next alternative to Blackrod is either the 17.19 from Victoria, or the 17.27 from Oxford Road, both these will get my home at either just before or just after 6, thus reducing the time I spend with my daughter. Again, it's unlikely that I'll make the Victoria train, due to the problems that I mentioned earlier due to 1) Getting there and 2) Getting through the damn station! However, if I did manage to make it, what happens when the train is inexplicably delayed or even worse, cancelled?? Well, then I have less than 10 minutes to get my behind up to Manchester Piccadilly to get the next train which goes to Blackrod, as there isn't another one from Victoria for another hour!!! I feel that most of my time trying to get home in the evening is going to be like watching a version of the 80's classic "Run-Around" with Mike Reid!!
I think you need a degree in Quantum Mechanics to understand that time table! Come on First and Northern, make your mind up, are we travelling on the Victoria or the Piccadilly line!
Congestion charge? Pah! If this is improvement - I don't want it!

14 November 2008 at 09:49  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I catch the 0811 To Manchester oxford road which arrives at Manchester Oxford road At 0843 On the new service I would have to change at Bolton and only arrive at 0851 increasing the time by 7 min
This is the major train of the day not only for me but for the Manchester universities this morning 173 people disembarked at Oxford road

Also there is now a 1 hour gap to the next train from Blackrod at 0910 which in rush hour is not acceptable.
And No direct link to Manchester Airport
I feel that this is a downgrade in service there are now over 50 people boarding the 0810 train at BLACKROD a lot of which go to Deansgate or Oxford road.
The trains from Bolton to Manchester are always overcrowded with commuters being left behind regularly,
On the return journey the new time would mean a change again at Bolton with a 5 min gap so if the train is late there would be a 1 hour wait to BLACKROD.
When the station was built at Horwich Park Way we where assured that the service from blackrod would be affected!
But now we have a reduced service from Blackrod.

14 November 2008 at 11:26  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a daily commuter from Blackrod to Manchester Oxford Road and can't believe the underhand way in which these changes to the timetable have been handled by the people whose wages we pay.

I live on the Blackrod side of Chorley and have chosen to use Blackrod Station for my commute as it is £15 cheaper to travel from here, the trains are fairly regular both ways and you can always park legally (Chorley weekly is currently about £36 and parking is ridiculous).

If I continue to use the direct service from Blackrod this will increase my commuting time by about 45 minutes a day as I will now have to leave home at 7.15am and won't get home until 6.15pm, making it an 11 hour day of which only 8 are work related!! As a single parent this will have a significant impact on my family life and time with my child as well as an increase in the cost of childcare.

If I choose to use the indirect service from Blackrod this won't increase my current commuting time as I will still leave home at 7.45am and get home at 6.00pm (all being well) but it will significantly increase the stress levels due to having to make quick connections, having to stand on already overcrowded trains and if trains are delayed, cancelled or to full to board (as is often the case) having to run, bus, taxi it across Manchester to get to Victoria Station.

So what options are there?? Traveling from Chorley will increase my weekly commute by £30 (£15 for the train and £3 per day parking) which in the current climate is an increase not many people could afford and would impact on my personal finances. Traveling from Horwich isn't an option due to traffic over the M61 and limited parking.

Seems like I'm be stuck between a rock and a hard place!

17 November 2008 at 18:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am attending Manchester Metropolitan university next year. However, i may change my mind due to this inconvienance. Who would have thought Northern Rail would shape my future? Just because we're a small station, they think its acceptable to erase it? Have they no consideration at all? Manchester Victoria is nowhere near Oxford Road, and although they have proposed a change at Bolton, Salford Crescent etc it is simply not good enough. For once, i'm more bothered about the quantity of the journey rather than the quality. And also, have they forgotten Horwich Parkway is quite a distance from Blackrod?

17 November 2008 at 19:34  
Blogger JPE said...

I catch the 9:00 to Oxford Road most days after dropping my daughter off at Blackrod school. This gets me into work by about 10:00 as I work on the Oxford road campus of the University. I would need to get the 9:10, and wait another 10 mins for another train at Salford Crescent in the morning. Assuming the trains are all on time this will get me into work around 10:30 which is clearly not acceptable. I will have to pay for childcare in the morning and get the 7:45. Does anyone want to hazard a guess at how overcrowded this service will be? I could of course get the 8:10 and fight with the hordes to get on an Oxford road service from Bolton or Salford "move down the train" Crescent, but have decided against this as I don't want to be left behind on the occasions when the train is full. Still, worse for my wife who accepted a job near Hazel Grove station three weeks ago - which up until the changes has been on a direct service from Blackrod. What a mistake that was. She will now have to creep down the M61 and round the M60 in the commuter traffic in the morning. The general consensus is that if you are not on the M61 by about 6:50 its rammed solid - Oh dear

20 November 2008 at 15:35  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am also very upset about the new timetable. Like L Allcock it causes me major problems that currently I am at a loss as to how I will resolve.
I regularly use the Blackrod Station-Oxford Road line- 4-5 days/week. I have 2 young children and work flexible hours to try and (a)accomodate my husbands long hours and (b) spend some time with my children. As such I use trains at different times. Most commonly I either catch the 6.59 (which will no longer exist) to enable me to leave at either 2.33 (if I am picking the kids up from school) or 3.33 (in order to spend some time with my kids). The difficult time has always been when I take the kids to school and nursery as the trains as they are currently didn't really accomodate that well (8.10 and 9am when school gets in at 9?). The days I do the school drop off I work later so that I make up my hours ctahcing anything form the 4.33, 4.56, 5.19 or 5.33 home. Unfortunately it appears that now I will not be able to do any of these things. I will now have to plan which station I leave form or face th edelight of chnaging at bolton. It was a major advantage for me to be able to work flexibley but realistically now I cannot continue to do that as many of the trains I used to take no longer exist. I am extremely uncomfortable about relying on changing at Bolton when I have to collect my children as bitter experience over the year I have been commuting has shown me just how reliable the trains are.
Furethmore, if I can longer work felxibly, this also has a knock on effect on my husband who will not be bale to meet his work demands unless I am there to cover for him, by looking after the children. The hcildren may need to go into more after school care, which they do not enjoy and this will also add a financial strain to us. This train change will therefore put an enormous strain on our family and life.
I will serioulsy have to consider how I get to work now. Driving will definietly be an option or I will have to look into Horwich Parkway again (not good as we all know how bad the parking is and the traffic makes getting there a major issue- it can take me >30 minutes to get there at rush hour)or even going to Westhoughton (apparently Wigan trains have benfitted from the timetable changes). At present I just don't know what I will do.
I find it incredible that a decision has been made like this without so much as consulting with, polling or informing the current passengers. Blackrod is very busy station with at least 50 passengers borading each train at rush hour times ( an I hjave commuted at all the rush hour times) the majority of which travel through to Deansgate, Oxford Rd or Picadilly. The current trains are overcrowded and probably not frequent enough so how does reducing the numbers of trains going through Blackrod improve anything for anyone? And why Victoria station? In light of the proposed congestion charge, this seems particularly ironic. How can the council promise to improve the trains services when the train companies can, on a whim, just effectively cancel an entire train service?

25 November 2008 at 08:59  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It appears that our train frequency will be cut, and the majority of the service sent to Victoria, but from January, to add insult to injury, we will have a significant ticket price rise for a poorer service!

I catch the 0740 hours train to Oxford Road daily (very convenient for a quick dash to the office). Lucky for me, this seems like one of the few trains left as is.

The journey home, however I'm dreading. Usually I catch the 1715 from Oxford Road and then the connecting 1719 from Oxford Road at Bolton. I've come to this tactic as at least I'm half way home if the connection is cancelled or heavily delayed. Whereas now both trains run down from Piccadilly, one behind the other, on the new timetable the connection will run from Victoria instead. There is only a 5 minute connection time at Bolton. I will be amazed if I catch that connection more than twice per week.

Mostly, I feel 'deceived' by Northern Rail - the posters at Oxford Road (which appeared for only three days) mentioned time changes, but did not mention that most of our trains would be going down a different line in the city! There seems to be no transparency over this.

I've seen an email response from one of the train companies' head honchos promoting Victoria Station as convenient for the Printworks, and Salford Central as a good alternative to Deansgate or Oxford Road. For those of us who work in the Piccadilly - Oxford Road - Deansgate vicinity, this is laughable. Having spent two years dashing from Piccadilly to Victoria whilst using trains on the Southport line, very rarely could passengers board at Salford Central. The trains were simply full when they left Victoria. The dash down to Victoria is exhausting at the end of a long day, and the last few minutes walk, not a particularly comfortable experience for anyone after dark walking on their own.

I do feel particularly sorry for working mums who these changes will affect considerably. It also makes doctors/dentist appointments more difficult than they are already to fit around work with longer journey times due to connections.

From the two years' I've caught the 0740 hours train from Blackrod, there seems to be a similar number of passengers that embark at Blackrod as at Lostock. Why is it just our services that are cut/disrupted? Just curious.

Anyway, rant over. I hope more people raise their concerns/opinions on here as one big united Blackrod voice is potentially a powerful thing.

26 November 2008 at 20:43  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

D Bradshaw.
I travel to Stepping Hill Hospital every day and catch the 06.59, which currently goes straight through to Stockport, I then catch the bus and get in work for 8:15. The earliest traing I will be able to get to Stockport will be the 07:40, which will not get me into work until 9 am. I also have a problem getting home if I do not catch the 17:06 (which will mean leaving work 5 mins early every day), as this is the only train from Woodsmoor straight through to Blackrod. I think it is ludicrous how the trains stop at lostock but do not stop at Blackrod!

1 December 2008 at 10:21  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have lived in Blackrod for almost 20 years and have used the train to Piccadilly for the past 5 when i got relocated to the City Centre.

I have to catch the nine o'clock as i have no other alternative - my son goes to Our Ladies in Aspull but breakfast club does not open until 8:00am.

When i used to catch the 8:11 i had to leave him outside school at 7:50 so i could get back to Blackrod to make the 8:11. He was 7 years old but his sister would stay with him, however she is now at Winstanley and i will not leave my 8 year old son alone outside school particularly at this time of year. Neither will i make him go to more childcare - i feel guilty enough putting him in breakfast club and after school club!

If i was to get the 9:10 to Victoria i would be late for work everyday. So now i have to leave blackrod at 7:50 to get me to Aspull for 8:00 am and then drive to Horwich (as i will miss the 8:11) - so get stuck in traffic and pay parking everyday.

I agree with the other posts too about the underhand way these new changes have been implemented, i have asked everyday at Piccadilly for the new timetables but they are (apparently)not available yet.

I also believe (via the rail ombudsman) that if major changes are to be made the 'service provider' is 'suppossed' to consult us. I must have missed that meeting.

I heard a rumour this Government wanted us to use more public transport!! HA! HA! HA!

4 December 2008 at 10:54  
Blogger Mick Hillman said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4 December 2008 at 16:25  
Blogger Mick Hillman said...

I work in Oxford Road (and about to move to Blackrod end of Horwich so most upset by the changes - ridiculous in light of the rhetoric about better transport TIF / congestion charge from GMPTE etc. I sometimes get the slow train from Blackpool and have seen the large number of passengers getting on at Blackrod in the morning peak. This move will just put more cars on the road, clog up Horwich Parkway and leave passengers stranded for no justification that I can see except an empty boast from NR about 'more trains' (have they got drivers trained up for these major changes by the way, someone should ask management!). Manchester Vic is no substitute, as it is difficult to get in and out of and not accessible to Uni students at Manchester Uni and MMU who will suffer from this in meeting lecture timetables and who have no alternative mean of transport. Many students juggle study, work and family (they have no choice) Speaking of which, does anyone at Northern Rail have kids and if so how do they work out the only two trains of the day should be before 8 am?

4 December 2008 at 16:31  
Blogger Lee said...

I currently catch the 06:59ish service to manchester Oxford Road in the morning. The new timetable will obviously bring inconvenience but the reasons for the changes seem to be mixed. I have been told that Northerns reasons for the changes where to increase service reliability between Blackpool and Manchester in the morning. However, according to Network Rails Route Utilisation Strategy the congestion and journey time issues are actually located between Salford and Manchester Piccadilly. There is therefore some logic to re-directing services to Victoria. However, nothing is mentioned of the fact that Northern currently taxis its train crew from Wigan to Preston for the 06:59 from Blackrod. Problems in getting train crew to the train are most often the reason why my train in particular runs late or has been cancelled. Recent national media and TIF scheme news and marketing trumpets the introduction of longer trains to address congestion, however these trains are to replace the existing Northern trains rolling stock, which are approaching the end of their working life (they were introduced between 1982 and 1986) in 2013. What is also not mentioned is that GMPTE and Northern only have to introduce 80% of promised trains to meet the TIF fund requirements to allow congestion charging. So trains might be physically slightly longer but they can be just as overcrowded as they are now. Furthermore, we will have to wait until 2012-2013 to get this rolling stock, which is also about the same time as Northern Trains franchise runs out. Blackrod is marketed as being a commuter town, but Bolton Council wants to allow 1600 houses and offices to be built on a redeveloped Horwich Works. Assuming it will be possible to drive to Horwich or Blackrod if that happens, where do Northern, Network Rail and GMPTE propose we all park to catch the train to avoid the congestion charge? Can anyone else see a theme beginning to develop here? I also note that Blackrod is to receive some improvements, assuming there is any money left in the TIF scheme once Metrolink and Manchester have been taken care off, what is being proposed for Blackrod. I'm sure the lampo-posts need repainiting. Maybe they could spend it on ramped access to the both platforms so the disabled can actually use the station now that they have parking spaces in the car park?

8 December 2008 at 09:50  
Blogger Unknown said...

Well, TiF is now dead but the timetable changes continue apace.

Personally I rarely take the train in the morning but it's always an option if I moved jobs to Manchester.

For socialising in the evening, however, the changes are less than convenient if the Oxford Road end of town is your destination. The 19:10 train makes it all but impossible to reliably reach a venue for 20:00 if there's any delay - the 18:17 is similarly a problem.

This is not so much an issue with Victoria (although that is irritating) as for the entire train line. It also appears that the two trains an hour Lostock used to enjoy (and shouldn't have : Blackrod passenger numbers are much higher) have been cut down to one..

It does make travel to the Printworks viable now - which it wasn't before, but I'm not sure I like the tradeoff.

12 December 2008 at 15:13  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't complain to Northern about the timetable changes, as it isn't their fault. It is the Department for Transport who are responsible for setting timetables, as they have to revise trains in order to fit in any timetable improvements around the "pathing" availability (i.e. spaces in the line schedule). Because of changes to the West Coast Mainline services (the Virgin services to/from London), all services have had to be revised in order to get all trains to fit in nicely.

I'm affected by these changes too - I live in Hindley and catch the train from there to Manchester virtually every Sunday. My train to Manchester will run 10 minutes earlier, and my train from Manchester will be 20 minutes later. So I now have to leave earlier and will arrive home later. And I can no longer connect at Salford to get to Victoria, as the one train per hour that did goes to Victoria will leave Bolton/Salford about 10 minutes before mine arrives. So now I have to head all the way across Manchester City Centre in order to get the bus to Cheetham Hill.

12 December 2008 at 23:00  

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