Mid Cheshire Overcrowding ….

Posted on December 6th, 2017, by The Chairman

Vince Chadwick writes ….

I travelled on a Chester to Manchester train last Saturday lunchtime as far as Knutsford. It was a 2-coach class 150 and set off from Chester about half full. By the time it reached Cuddington it was full.

At Greenbank it was well overfull with passengers standing in the vestibules and aisles. At Northwich the driver and guard walked down the outside knocking on the windows for people to move right down the aisles and somehow everyone squeezed on. At Lostock Grahlam some passengers could not get on and about 10 were left behind. At Plumley no-one could get on (about 3 waiting).

I had to get off at Knutsford and wondered if this would be physically possible (I was seated about half way down the front coach). Luckily quite a few (maybe 50) got off at Knutsford so I was able to get off as well, but there were about 150 people on the platform hoping to get on!

As we know, the Mid Cheshire Line is noted for overcrowding at peak times and for only having one train an hour each way. But when loadings are expected to be exceptional, such as when Chester Races are on, the trains are strengthened to 4 coaches (2 units). With Manchester Christmas Markets on and Christmas shopping attracting many more passengers to the city, why didn’t Northern strengthen these trains this weekend? If they can find the stock to do it for the races, why not pre-Christmas weekends as well?

Please leave a comment

  1. The Chairman Says:

    Hi, Vince,

    Not good to hear.

    For the last 3 years following requests from MCRUA Northern, previously Northern Rail have strengthened Saturday services to 4 coaches as standard. Your story shows how necessary this is.

    I have sympathy for the passengers, and on this occasion for Northern as well. Saturday was a difficult day for Northern at Piccadilly as there was an axle counter failure at Marple West Junction. This caused much disruption to Northern’s services to Rose Hill, Marple, New Mills and the Sheffield stopping service (the “Eastern” services). This was the second time there was an axle counter failure at Marple West Junction in three days, as there had been a similar failure the previous Thursday. As you know, Network Rail, not Northern maintain the axle counters, which are part of the signalling system. Such failures can cause a lot of delays, as used to happen quite often on the West Coast Main Line.

    Although only a few of our trains inter-work with the Eastern services, units were borrowed from other services to try to keep some semblance of a service going for those passengers. Some of the services coming in from Sheffield were over an hour late and some diverted via Stockport.

    Best wishes,

    John

  2. Andrew Macfarlane Says:

    John,
    I think you mean Marple Wharf Junction.

  3. Peter Black Says:

    Why did the last comment feel it necessary to blame another company for an axle counter failure? Presumably to direct attention from the fact that Northern had extra carriages available, but chose not to use them. The rail industry needs to grow up and present a common face.

  4. The Chairman Says:

    Hi, Peter.

    Good point. Train running performance (Moving Annual Average) is currently the worst it’s been since 2002 on the Mid Cheshire Line, and most of the fault (80-85% we estimate) is with Network Rail. The continuing apparent lack of action by Network Rail to sort this out is proving rather trying for Mid Cheshire Line users. There will be more about this in the coming Rail Report.

  5. Jon Says:

    When is the new hourly train from Greenbank to Piccadilly that only stops at the main stations coming in? I thought it was meant to be from this month, along with the new upgraded trains?

  6. The Chairman Says:

    Hi, Jon,

    You’re right, the new timetable was planned to start last Sunday but had to be postponed due to the expected cascaded trains from Great Western Railway being delayed due to the overruns to the electrification programme on Great Western. The new timetable is now expected for May 2018.

    We’re not seeing new trains on the Mid Cheshire Line, rather trains that passengers will think are “like new”. The refurbishment programme is in three phases. We’re starting to see trains with the 1st stage of refurbishment (retention tank / disabled toilets and passenger information displays). This programme is planned to see the 3rd phase complete before the end of 2019.

    John

  7. Jen Says:

    I heard Network Rail were supposed to undertake some improvements in the Greenbank area regarding renewing the signalling and moving the turnback so that trains terminating at Greenbank don’t have to reverse twice to move between platforms. Is that correct?

    On a different topic – according to Northern’s Twitter feed the waiting room on the Chester bound platform at Knutsford can only be opened during daylight hours, due to no longer having working lighting inside. Are there any plans to modernise stations on the Mid-Cheshire line? The facilities at Knutsford don’t really resemble what you’d expect for a station getting annual usage of over 500,000 journeys.

  8. Jen Says:

    Does anyone know why after cancelling both the 15:17 and 16:17 Manchester to Chester services yesterday (14th December) that Northern decided to run the 16:58 Stockport-Chester non-stop from Altrincham to Chester? It wasn’t even as though they did it to reduce disruption in the other direction, as the 16:59 and 18:04 Chester-Manchester trains were both cancelled, while the delayed 19:04 appeared to be the return working of the delayed 17:09 Manchester-Chester. It also seems new Northern don’t organise replacement buses when two consecutive services are cancelled on a line with an hourly service, like old Northern used to.

  9. The Chairman Says:

    Hi, Jen,

    Re: Greenbank, Network Rail have been cutting the foliage back on the line from Greenbank to the ICI Works, this I expect for the use as a turnback. I don’t know about the signalling requirements.

    I hadn’t realised the Knutsford waiting room was closed when dark. Have you reported this to the Northern faults system using their website or the email address of “faults(at)northernrailway.co.uk”? You should receive a fault log number, then be able to track progress through ringing them (Carillion) in Sheffield. As regards upgrades to stations, it’s coming, though we don’t yet have the detail.

    Turning to 14 December, there was a significant problem at Heaton Norris Junction in the afternoon. This caused a lot of difficulties such that we and others had a pretty patchy service for the rest of the day, but at least something. Far better than last Sunday, when the last 2 trains to Chester were cancelled (they’re 2 hours apart as you know) and the last one back from Chester was cancelled, with buses only provided for the last two services.

    We’ll be discussing this in our next meeting with Northern’s Central Region Managing Director, Liam Sumpter in mid-January.

  10. Charles F Says:

    On the subject of the new timetable, didn’t the specification identify the Greenbank to Piccadilly would be the stopper and the Chester to Piccadilly would run semi-fast after Greenbank? Has this changed?

  11. Simon Barber Says:

    Hi Charlie,
    I looked into this for MCRUA at the time. The train service specification only specified the minimum number of trains that must call at each station in specified time periods, not the calling pattern. There was a separate document that suggested the calling pattern you describe. MCRUA responded to the consultation on the new timetable objecting strongly to that pattern because it would break some existing journeys. We think our comments have been taken on board. It is one of the things that we’re waiting to have confirmed when the May 18 timetable is published. As John has said, this is late, but there are a very large number of interlocking changes involved.

  12. Jen Says:

    Do we know anything about proposed diagramming for May 2018? I was just thinking if we end up with 2 carriages on Greenbank-Piccadilly semi-fasts on Saturdays and 2 carriages on Chester-Piccadilly all-stops, then maybe some all-stops could get overcrowded, while there’s spare space on the semi-fasts?

  13. John Oates Says:

    Hi, Jen,

    We know the services are to be inter-worked with the Buxton line, which since 142s are not allowed to Buxton means our services will be (almost) all 150 or 156 operated.

    However we don’t yet know the diagrams.

    John

  14. Andrew Macfarlane Says:

    Interesting to hear about the clearance of foliage on the Winnington branch. Looking at it logically, it could only be used as somewhere to stable the Greenbank turnback unit clear of the main line (presumably to let freights go past). The Winnington branch is not a passenger line and passengers could not be conveyed along it. Its use would mean that the second reversal at Greenbank would take place clear of the main line but far better to amend the locking for the Hartford East down home signal (as Simon has suggested) so that you could use the facing crossover at Hartford East and then run straight into the up platform at Greenbank.

  15. Andrew Macfarlane Says:

    I wonder if it is currently a signalled move from the Winnington branch to the up platform at Greenbank? Without that the Winnington branch would not be much use as a layover point for the Greenbank turnback unit (unless you reversed three times). Passenger trains are not permitted to depart in the up direction from the down (Chester-bound) platform at Greenbank because they would do so under the authority of a position light ground signal. In a similar case at New Mills Central a few years ago a full-height signal was provided to enable such a move.

  16. Charles F Says:

    Looking at the specification for times between Chester and Manchester, 9 trains a day have to be less than 90 mins, but others are less than 95 mins. This would suggest that some trains will have to skip stops somewhere. This points to a either peak trains calling at all stations or off peak calling at all stations. To make this logical, it will be the smaller stations between Greenbank and Piccadilly which will be skipped. This also has the benefit of separating the local schools traffic from the Manchester commuters who are the dominant flow. it may not suit every individual, but the wider public will benefit from this.

  17. Simon Barber Says:

    Hi Charles, I agree with your reading of the specification, but I’m not sure you can draw a conclusion about the future stopping pattern from it. A 90 minute end-to-end timing is achievable on an all-stations train and there are significant allowances included in that 90 minute timing, for example long dwell times at some stations which have become necessary as Mid Cheshire Line trains have become heavily loaded. So I would say that with careful pathing and perhaps shorter dwell times (a more frequent service should mean less crowded trains), the 90-minute timing should be possible with any stopping pattern.

  18. Jen Says:

    Hi Simon,

    My understanding is the times Charles has given are maximum permitted journey times, not target journey times, which would mean those 9 services have to run in no more than 90 minutes even during leaf fall season and even if a wait at Edgeley Junction can’t be avoided.

    Although, I agree that some dwell times could be reduced, especially if most services are operated by Sprinters with 4 sets of doors, instead of by Pacers with 3 sets of doors.

  19. Simon Barber Says:

    Hi Jen,
    Yes, my understanding is the same. In fact I think these maximum permitted times are the same as they were under the previous franchise. Only a fraction of services each day have to meet the 90 minute timing. I think it’s not an ambitious timing and it has been met in the past by enough all-stations trains to comply with the franchise specification. It’s an interesting question whether there is an exception allowed for the leaf fall timetable – I don’t know.

  20. Jen Says:

    Hi Simon,

    The old Northern franchise agreement is archived on the DfT website. It appears the old franchise was required to run services in no more than 91 minutes with an exception to allow up to 93 minutes included.

  21. Peter Says:

    A railway worker has informed me that Northern’s current plan would see a unit leaving Piccadilly at ten past the hour running all-stops to Chester, then leaving Chester on the hour running all stops to Manchester. The same unit would then leave Piccadilly for Greenbank at twenty to the hour, running semi-fast and back to Manchester, again semi-fast. However, he also informed me that there’s some issues with pathing which have to be addressed, meaning the current plan is subject to change.

  22. Jen Says:

    More severe overcrowding last night due to poor Northern planning. Northern agreed to accept Metrolink tickets due to disruption at Cornbrook but then cancelled the 18:17 service from Piccadilly, which resulted in passengers at Stockport being unable to board the 19:17 Piccadilly-Chester due to the train being too full.

  23. Jen Says:

    Northern have announced the Buxton line will get 2tph from May, despite it not being a franchise requirement but it sounds like a number of improvements which are franchise requirements will be postponed: https://www.buxtonadvertiser.co.uk/news/transport/northern-announces-plans-to-increase-number-of-trains-on-buxton-to-manchester-line-1-9075969

  24. The Chairman Says:

    Hi, Jen,

    As Chair of the Mid Cheshire CRP, I was invited to a restricted meeting yesterday afternoon to hear about what changes, if any, would be taking place on South Manchester services including the Mid Cheshire Line.

    We were allowed to take notes and told we could circulate these afterwards as well as the associated Powerpoint presentation.

    In summary, there are improvements for the Mid Cheshire Line, though not to the extent committed in the Franchise Agreement, the delays primarily due to Network Rail further delays in the electrification Manchester-Bolton-Preston, meaning electric services cannot be run over that route from May, with the effect diesels must be used and therefore cannot be cascaded to other routes. To add to this the TPE timetable changes in May are taking place, meaning Northern have to operate their Liverpool-Manchester services via Warrington Central using diesels. These services have to be 4-car services in the peak, in some cases replacing 6-car 185s. May be rather crowded!

    What we were told is expected to be confirmed by Network Rail on 7 April (T minus 6) and until then is provisional.

    The hope is the full timetable changes expected will be implemented from December 2018, this depending on Network Rail completing the Bolton electrification.

    Here are my notes from the meeting (which I typed up in a hurry) ….

    Monday-Friday

    In the Chester direction the standard departure from Piccadilly will be xx41 and with peak hour extras, most from Piccadilly and one morning one as a Stockport starter, such that the morning peak service in the Chester direction will be approximately half-hourly.

    In the Manchester direction, trains approximately half hourly, leaving Chester at 0558, 0621 (only to Stockport, forms a service back to Chester), 0651 arr Picadilly 0818, 0715 Saturdays excepted to Stockport only arr 0839 and 0758 arr 0931. In the evening the services are more evenly spread than at present with the last being the 2246. No Heaton Chapel and Levenshulme stops anymore.

    The 1459 equivalent is diagrammed for a 142. I’ve let them know this won’t work with the scholar loadings from Greenbank. They will see what can be done to swap it for a 15x which I think would be crowded but wouldn’t leave anyone behind.

    Saturdays

    As above, though without the Saturdays Excepted services. These to be all 2 cars, which I pointed out won’t be sufficient on special event days. They will aim to strengthen all services to 4 cars for these occasions.

    Sundays

    Similar to as present with 4 cars diagrammed.

    Summary

    Rather better than I had expected as the rumour machine had suggested no real change until next December.

    There has been a circular from Northern’s Central Region Director, Liam Sumpter, which I’ve copied below. It states no changes for Mid Cheshire, but as you can see it’s better than that.

    John

    ********************************************

    Further to my previous correspondence last month I wanted to write to you again to provide you with an update on our May 18 timetable introduction.

    As you will recall our proposed timetable for May 18 was critically dependent on the successful delivery by Network Rail of the Manchester to Preston Electrification Project, which has been significantly delayed.

    Unfortunately, the knock-on effects go way beyond the North-West region, and as a result we have had to make changes elsewhere across the network to reallocate diesel trains to cover the Manchester to Preston route, which would otherwise have been served by electric trains.

    To understand the impact of this lack of infrastructure our Train Planning Team have carried out a major review of our proposed May 18 timetable and we are now able to share with you what service improvements we will be able to introduce in May. Disappointingly some of the extra services we had planned for May will now be arriving later. Whilst this is frustrating and means some customers will have to wait longer for improvements, they are improvements worth waiting for.

    Calder Valley through Manchester Victoria
    • Six trains per hour will still be provided weekdays between Rochdale and Victoria
    • Providing new regular journey opportunities:
    • Half hourly Rochdale – Manchester Victoria – Bolton – Blackburn, extending hourly to/from Clitheroe
    • Hourly Blackburn – Todmorden – Manchester Victoria – Wigan – Southport, with reduced Burnley to Manchester journey time
    • Hourly Leeds – Dewsbury – Manchester Victoria – Wigan – Southport
    • Two trains per hour Leeds – Bradford – Manchester Victoria

    Manchester Victoria to/from Stalybridge
    • Two weekday trains per hour between Stalybridge and Manchester Victoria, one extending to/from Wigan via Bolton.
    • Daytime services at Mossley, Greenfield, Marsden and Slaithwaite will be provided by TPE.
    • Northern will operate some peak services between Manchester Piccadilly and Huddersfield to serve these stations.

    Manchester – Preston
    • Original plans amended, as services will now be diesel worked rather than electric:
    • Half hourly Preston – Manchester Piccadilly via Bolton service will still be provided, one train an hour running Blackpool North – Manchester Piccadilly and one train an hour Preston – Manchester Airport
    • Four through Barrow – Manchester Airport and vice versa services will run, along with one Manchester Piccadilly – Windermere and two Windermere – Manchester Piccadilly services
    • Hourly Preston – Manchester Victoria service will now run between Buckshaw Parkway and Manchester Victoria
    • Hourly Manchester Airport – Blackpool North via Wigan EMU service

    Manchester – Wigan – Southport
    Six weekday trains per hour will now be provided between Wigan and Manchester:
    • Three trains per hour via Atherton, comprising Kirkby – Victoria, Southport – Blackburn and Southport – Leeds (fourth train per hour provided at peak times)
    • Two trains per hour via Bolton, comprising Wigan – Victoria – Stalybridge and Wigan – Piccadilly – Alderley Edge
    • Hourly non-stop electric service between Manchester Oxford Road and Wigan North Western
    • Two morning peak services from Southport – Wigan – Piccadilly – Alderley Edge departing at 06:17 & 07:17
    • Two evening peak services from Alderley Edge – Piccadilly – Wigan – Southport departing at 16:49 & 17:49 from Alderley Edge and 17:19 & 18:18 from Manchester Piccadilly

    In the evening peak because of the capacity constraints through the Manchester Piccadilly to Salford corridor the 17:19 off Piccadilly (16:49 from Alderley Edge) will call at Deansgate but not Oxford Road; and the 18:18 off Piccadilly (17:49 from Alderley Edge) will call at Oxford Road but not Deansgate.

    Chester and Greenbank – Manchester Piccadilly
    • An hourly service will continue to be provided between Chester and Manchester Piccadilly, with peak time extra services running between Chester and Stockport, as now
    • A two hourly Sunday service will continue to be provided between Chester and Manchester Piccadilly

    Stoke and Macclesfield – Manchester Piccadilly
    • An hourly service will continue to be provided between Stoke and Manchester Piccadilly, with peak time additional services between Macclesfield and Manchester Piccadilly
    • The Sunday service level between Stoke and Manchester will remain as now, with five services in each direction

    Buxton and Hazel Grove – Manchester Piccadilly
    • Three weekday trains an hour will be provided between Hazel Grove and Manchester:
    • Two trains an hour Buxton – Manchester Piccadilly
    • Hourly Hazel Grove – Manchester Piccadilly
    • Most services will call at Davenport, Woodsmoor and Disley
    • Two Sunday trains an hour between Hazel Grove and Manchester:
    • Hourly Buxton – Manchester Piccadilly
    • Hourly Hazel Grove – Manchester Piccadilly

    Sheffield/New Mills Central/Rose Hill – Manchester Piccadilly
    • Hourly Sheffield – Manchester Piccadilly service every day
    • Two weekday trains per hour New Mills Central – Manchester Piccadilly via Bredbury (one of which is Hope Valley Sheffield service)
    • Two weekday trains per hour Rose Hill – Manchester Piccadilly via Hyde

    Crewe and Alderley Edge – Manchester Piccadilly
    • Hourly Crewe – Manchester Airport – Newton-le-Willows – Liverpool Lime Street service
    • Hourly Crewe – Stockport – Manchester Piccadilly service
    • Hourly Alderley Edge – Stockport – Manchester Piccadilly – Bolton – Wigan service

    Manchester Airport – Manchester Piccadilly
    • Four Northern trains per hour between Manchester Airport and Piccadilly/Oxford Road
    • Liverpool – Airport – Crewe will call at all stations between Piccadilly and Airport
    • Heald Green will have three services per hour in each direction
    • Mauldeth Road, Burnage and Gatley will have two services per hour in each direction
    • East Didsbury will two Northern services per hour in each direction, with off peak ATW calls continuing

    I would like to reassure you that despite this delay to some of our proposed improvements our modernisation plans to transform the train journey experience for our customers by 2020 remains our number one focus. May and December are the key dates for timetable changes on the rail network, and as part of our modernisation programme, we will provide 2000 extra services per week and increase the peak time capacity by 40% by 2020.
    To deliver these extra services we have 98 brand-new trains currently being built to replace the Class 142 Pacers that will be retired at the end of 2019, whilst we refurbish the rest of the fleet to deliver a significantly improved customer experience right across the network.

    Should you require any further information please do not hesitate to get in touch.

    ********************************************

  25. Charles F Says:

    Thank you John. Does this mean that the last train from Chester is 10:46 pm rather than 10:59 as now? Also is the last train from Manchester 10:41 pm or 11:41? If both departures are earlier then this seems contrary to the plans to have later trains.

  26. The Chairman Says:

    Hi, Charles.

    The last train from Chester is currently 2248. It will be 2246, 2 minutes earlier. I don’t think we’re that fussed for 2 minutes.

    The last train from Manchester is currently 2317. It will be a little later than that, though I don’t have those details.

    There will then be a further timetable change in December 2018.

    Best wishes,

    John

  27. Andrew Macfarlane Says:

    Train times from 20th May are now in the National Rail website Journey Planner. The new standard departure time from Piccadilly on Monday to Saturday is confirmed as xx.41.

  28. Paul Wilkinson Says:

    It appears there is a 2341 from Manchester Mon to Sat. Sundays it appears last train from Manchester is 2106
    The pdfs of the Northern timetables are apparently on line from May 7th but printed Northern timetable booklets only from 1st June
    MCRUA is looking to circulate a single sheet of the timetable once final times are published by Northern on 7th May.

  29. Jen Says:

    Someone set up a website http://www.railwaydata.co.uk which uses open access data to compile timetables, it’s not complete or guaranteed to be error free but it includes the May timetable for the Mid-Cheshire line (table 91) and I think gives a good overview of the changes. However, note 2H31 Chester to Stockport on Saturday is an error as that service is Saturday and Sunday excluded.

  30. Peter Says:

    Pdfs of the new timetables are now available on Northern’s website. The Mid-Cheshire one includes a few strange anomalies. Does anyone know why the 22:40 Manchester to Chester will call at all stations except Navigation Road or why the 15:41 Manchester to Chester on Saturdays will take 15 minutes longer than the normal timings?

  31. Paul Wilkinson Says:

    These were due next Tuesday so a week early!

    The 2240 not stopping at Navigation Rd – presume to avoid delaying a frieght train or something coming the other way on the single line
    The S 1541 seems to lose 5 mins by Navigation Rd and more as it progresses – again perhaps waiting for something else on the single line before Navigation Rd or following a freight??

  32. Paul Wilkinson Says:

    In fact arrival times at Chester on S look allover the place from an xx41 departure at Piccadilly: 0911 1010 1110 1219 1310 1410 1514 1610 1725 1810 1912 2009 2110 2209 2309

    M-F are lot smoother 1010 1110 1219 1310 1410 1510 1610 1710 1810 (1835 from Stockport) 1909 1936 (from Stockport) 2009 2110 2213 2314

  33. Dan Hughes Says:

    Have we lost the semi-fast trains that were proposed on the Chester-Manchester line then stopping at only the larger stations?

  34. Paul Wilkinson Says:

    Unfortunately they have been postponed again and likely to now be from the December change date
    On line timetables now at https://www.northernrailway.co.uk/travel/timetables
    Route 17 – Manchester to Chester via Altrincham
    Upcoming Timetable
     Route 17 – Manchester to Chester via Altrincham 20 May 2018 – 8 December 2018. (1.30 MB, pdf)

  35. Dan Hughes Says:

    Thanks Paul, wondered if it was a postponement to a future date or whether they’d just decided to can the semi-fast trains. Don’t suppose anyone has any idea as to how much quicker the semi fast trains will be when they’re in service. Still can’t believe in this day and age it’s an hour from the likes of Northwich to Manchester. Let’s be honest, in London it would be 20 to 25 minutes!

  36. Charles F Says:

    I’m confused why several of the new trains in the new timetable now take over 100 mins between Piccadilly and Chester. I thought 90 mins was the maximum. The c35 miles from Mouldsworth to Piccadilly can now take over an hour and a half which works out less than 25 miles an hour. In the end the new timetable is a lot worse. Not sure how this state of affairs has been deemed acceptable to the various stakeholders. If people want this line to thrive, the service has to improve, not get worse. The only way these trains can meet the specifications are to travel semi-fast between Manchester and Greenbank.

  37. Peter Says:

    The 15:02 Chester to Manchester was a single 150 when I caught it last week. As Northern should be getting additional trains between now and the December timetable change is there any chance of it returning to being a 4 car working by the start of the next academic year in September?

  38. The Chairman Says:

    Hi, Peter,

    We think this in unlikely. Northern already have all the 150s coming from Great Western Railway, and it seems the 3 expected from what was London Midland are staying with them for the moment.

    When we (the CRP) had the timetable meeting with them last March, the 1502 was diagrammed for a 142. I said this wouldn’t work, as we wouldn’t be able to get everyone on at Greenbank. They’ve found a way to put a 150 into this diagram, but I understand there’s no chance of it moving to a larger train until the next timetable change.

    If the train starts suffering from delays due to boarding and unloading (dwell time delays), they’ll probably look at this again (once they have some time after sorting out the current very poor performance problems).

    John

  39. Peter Says:

    Hi John,

    Thank you for your reply. If the ‘Class 769 Flex’ idea works aren’t they supposed to be used on the Alderley Edge to Wigan services which are currently mainly 150s? I also understand there should be more DMUs arriving from Scotrail before the end of the year.

  40. The Chairman Says:

    Thanks, Peter.

    You’re right about both the 769s and the 158s & 170s from Scotrail.

    Once the 769s start working acceptably, then we’ll have a better idea. The project is running behind schedule, though most of us thought the DfT announcement on the project timescales was unrealistic.

    The 158s & 170s should be down from Scotrail by now, but I hear Scotrail are doing their best to delay sending any more until either the 385s are sorted or the 365s drafted up there are running acceptably. Once they arrive, they will release 150s from east of the Pennines, though by then they should have started withdrawing 142s & 144s. Meanwhile, Northern have acquired some more 153s, though they’re only for short-term use.

  41. Chris Says:

    There also should be 5 x class 156s arriving from Scotrail. Scotrail are supposed to be releasing 10 but I’ve got no idea what is supposed to happen to the other 5. Incidentally are there still any class 156s booked to work the Mid-Cheshire line?

  42. Peter Says:

    If I’m not mistaken 142s seem to have been popping up on both the 06:51 and 15:02 Chester to Manchester services recently.

    In response to Chris I’ve only travelled on a 156 on a Mid-Cheshire once since the timetable change and that was on a service which is usually operated by a 150.

  43. Peter Says:

    There’s an article in The Guardian about the December 2018 timetable change

    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/jul/09/rail-firms-forced-to-abandon-winter-timetable-changes

  44. Peter Says:

    Overcrowding on the 15:02 Chester to Manchester and delays caused by overcrowding seems to be getting worse.

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