New timetable – some trains run earlier! ….

Posted on May 15th, 2014, by The Chairman

Andrew Macfarlane writes ….

The new timetable is valid from Sunday 18 May to Sunday 5 October 2014.

Most daytime trains from Chester towards Manchester are retimed to run 5 minutes earlier on Monday to Saturday (apart from in the morning peak and in the evening) and so they generally leave Chester at 59 minutes past the hour, Northwich at 30 minutes past the hour, Knutsford at 42 minutes past the hour and Altrincham at 59 minutes past the hour.

The first Sunday train from Chester, which is at 09.03 in the new timetable, calls additionally at Lostock Gralam and Ashley and so now calls at all stations between Chester and Stockport.

Off-peak trains towards Manchester still call at Heaton Chapel and Levenshulme on Monday to Saturday (except in the evening).

Sunday trains continue to run to and from Southport or Wigan Wallgate.

Train times towards Chester are generally unchanged except that the first train on Monday to Saturday, the 06.18 from Piccadilly, leaves Stockport 2 minutes earlier at 06.28 and is then 2 minutes earlier at every station (including the arrival time into Chester). On Monday to Friday the 20.17 from Piccadilly leaves Stockport one minute earlier, at 20.29 and then runs 1 minute earlier as far as Knutsford, then 2 minutes earlier from Plumley onwards. On Monday to Friday the 21.17 from Piccadilly is retimed to depart from Piccadilly at 21.22, then departs from Stockport 2 minutes later at 21.32 and then runs 2 minutes later through to Chester.

(Ed. – We hear the daytime changes have been necessary due to a revised Cross Country timetable for us affecting train paths between Stockport and Piccadilly. We’ll be discussing with Northern trying to get the timetable back to true “clockface” at a future timetable change).

Please leave a comment

  1. Jen Says:

    Looks like from next week at Stockport they’ll be an xx:24 XC departure from platform 4 and at xx:25 an EMT departure from platform 3 so presumably a xx:21 departure calling at Heaton Chapel and Levenshulme doesn’t fit in with that. Given the Buxton service departs Stockport at xx:12 I would have thought it would have been easier for that service to additionally call at Heaton Chapel and Levenshulme and then to leave the Chester service at the same time (or maybe a couple of minutes earlier) and to run it fast to Manchester.

  2. Andrew Macfarlane Says:


    The Cross Country is actually 25 off Stockport towards Manchester in the new timetable (24 must be an arrivsl time). At the moment it’s 28 past towards Manchester so at least it provides more connection time for those coming off the Cross Country and wanting the xx.30 Chester train (I know it still doesn’t meet the criterion to be an official connection).

  3. Jen Says:

    Andrew – yes xx:24 is the XC arrival time on platform 4 with xx:25 being the departure time. 5 minutes is the minimum time for an official connection at Stockport or Chester, with 10 minutes being the minimum time at Manchester Piccadilly.

    On a Sunday officially the Liverpool-Manchester Airport service doesn’t provide a connection in to the Southport-Chester at Manchester Piccadilly as there’s only 5 minutes between the two, despite the fact that the arrival from Liverpool will be on the same platform as the departure for Chester but there is an ‘official’ connection at Manchester Oxford Rd.

  4. Jen Says:

    An unusual working today. The unit for the 16:58 Stockport-Manchester arrived at Stockport platform 1 (not platform 2) attached to the unit working the 16:49 Manchester Piccadilly-Buxton service. The 16:58 Stockport-Manchester service was earlier announced as cancelled but was then reinstated, so it sounds like they couldn’t source a unit for the service but then ‘found one’ by taking it off a strengthened Buxton service.

  5. Charles F Says:

    At the moment, due to its success, the duration of travel has been gradually increasing over the years. I’m hoping that when the electric trains start elsewhere, there will be a flow-down of more frequent, faster, more reliable trains on the Mid-Chester line. I understand that a potential new half hourly service will be between Manchester (or Stockport) and Greenbank only. Now as a user of Mouldsworth and naturally biased so I may not have thought it through properly, this opens up the opportunity of trains which only call at major stations between Greenbank and Altrincham. When I lived in Hampshire for a few years, the trains to Waterloo called at all the local stations, until close to London and then only stopped at major stations. If the new Greenbank train called at all stations, this would allow the Chester trains to stop at every station up to Greenbank and then go semi-express to Manchester. This would mean that 1)times between Manchester and Chester reduce, 2)times for the outer stations to Manchester reduce, 3)the larger stations still get an hourly semi-express service. The negative is that there is no connection between all stations which may be a step to far. What are the current plans on this matter?

  6. Jen Says:

    Re Charles F: One thing to note is if you have one semi-fast train and one all stops train you won’t get a true half-hourly service at every station. I think the best thing to do is try to get it as close to every 30 minutes as possible at Knutsford and then it’ll be something like 27 and 33 minute gaps between services at Altrincham and Northwich.

    The question to ask is how many people make journeys from villages one side of Northwich to villages the other side?

    Network Rail consulted on replacing an hourly Manchester Victoria-Huddersfield all-stops service with a half hourly Manchester Piccadilly-Leeds service calling each calling at Stalybridge, Huddersfield and Dewsbury and 2 out of Mossley, Greenfield, Marsden and Slaithwaite. Despite some local media objections to losing connecting services between villages Network Rail reported back that the majority were satisfied or happy with the proposals with some people in Marsden and Slaithwaite saying gaining a direct service to Leeds outweighs the benefits of losing services to nearby villages.

    I do think it would be pointless considering speeding up the through service between Chester and Altrincham if Heaton Chapel and Levenshulme calls then get forced on the service.

  7. E.M. Says:

    To throw another idea in to the mix – why not continue a Manchester to Greenbank train to Warrington Bank Quay to create new journey opportunities?

  8. Simon Barber Says:

    Charles, it’s probably going too far to say that there are ‘plans’ for the new service yet, but MCRUA now has, thanks to our volunteers, a lot of passenger counts data and based on that, we have proposed (and modelled) a second hourly service which runs between Manchester and Chester calling at the principal stations only. Of course, if our campaign is successful, what eventually emerges might be different because the railway’s professional timetablers will have to weave the service in between others on the network. This service pattern has the advantage that journeys from Altrincham, Knutsford and Northwich to/from Chester are considerably speeded up; in fact it appears to us that the journey time between Greenbank and Chester would be only 22-25 minutes non-stop, which is rather faster than it can usually be done by road. So we think this service pattern will boost passenger numbers by attracting more people to use the train to get to Chester as well as to Manchester. Your suggestion does appeal, by speeding up journeys between the west Cheshire villages and Stockport/Manchester, but I think it is likely that there is more potential for increasing passenger journey numbers between the towns and Chester, than there is between the west Cheshire villages and Greater Manchester. Most of our line’s journeys originate at the town stations.

    I agree that calls at Heaton Chapel and Levenshulme by a semi-fast service would be bad news. I’d also like the idea of running some trains to Warrington, but I fear it is a non-starter for two reasons; the section of the WCML between Hartford and Weaver Junction is said to have no spare paths, and Bank Quay station has not got the track or signalling required for terminating trains from the south. Curiously, when the curve between the two Hartford junctions last had a passenger service, most of the trains terminated at Acton Bridge, perhaps for similar reasons!

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