Three Awards and we get Government backing ….

Posted on January 20th, 2012, by The Chairman

The Mid Cheshire Line that runs from Chester to Manchester via Northwich has won three awards in the Cheshire Best Kept Station Competition and has on Wednesday also received government backing as a Community Rail Service.

This will mean people in mid Cheshire will have a bigger say on their train service and access to extra funding to improve the line will become available.

The Awards were presented on Tuesday at The Weaver Hall Museum on London Road, Northwich. 

Over 90 guests attended the evening including the Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire, the High Sheriff and six local Mayors. 

Announcing the Awards, John Hulme, Organiser of Cheshire Best Kept Stations, said: 

Northwich Station won the “Cheshire West and Chester Award for best efforts in the Borough. Over the past few years the station has seen a vast improvement for its passengers and a considerable reduction in anti-social behaviour. 

Greenbank Station won the “ACoRP Award” for strong partnership working where thanks to the local Rail Officer, Station Adopter and Cheshire West’s Local Area Manager there has been considerable change at the Station. 

At Greenbank they are now looking to develop a Friends Group to keep on top of the work.

Lostock Gralam has won the “Most Improved Station in Cheshire Award” for turning a near derelict station into one that now has waiting shelters, seating, a new car park and even artwork and planters on the Station.

The judges said that the Station had a long way to go but had made a very positive start. 

David Roberts, retired Managing Director of Roberts Bakery in Rudheath and the Special Guest presenting the Awards, said:

“Roberts Bakery has been pleased to support Cheshire Best Kept Stations since its inception.  Having a better rail service with better stations is good news for those that live and work in Northwich.  Whilst there is still a lot of work to be accomplished, there is marked improvement at stations. 

I especially want to thank the Friends Groups and volunteers – those unsung heroes in the Community.” 

Sally Buttifant, the Mid Cheshire Community Rail Partnership Officer said:

“I am absolutely thrilled that the Mid Cheshire Line has been designated a Community Rail Service.  This means we have access to new government funds and the people of Mid Cheshire will have more say in how their railway line is run.

The three awards we have won, tells us that we are already getting things right. I must thank all my partners especially the volunteers groups who have made winning these awards possible.”

Northwich Town Mayor, Cllr Alison Gerrard said:

“This week has been good news all round for our local stations and the Mid Cheshire line. Sally and her team should be congratulated on these wins and what has been achieved for the line. The Town Council are keen to support her with the many things that are still to be done.”

John Oates, Chair of the Mid Cheshire Community Rail Partnership said:

“The Awards for Lostock, Northwich and Greenbank are down to the work of the volunteers and good co-ordination by our Rail Officer. I both congratulate them and thank them for all their hard work.

Community Rail Service Designation for the Mid Cheshire Line will help us to achieve even more for passengers on our line. We look forward to having greater flexibility and the opportunity to work more closely with the rail industry, users, local councils and others to maximise the benefit of rail services and station improvements in Mid Cheshire.”

Ian Bevan, Managing Director of Northern Rail, which runs services on the route, said:

“Northern welcomes the designation of the Mid Cheshire line as a Community Rail Service. This line plays an important role in the area and designation will assist in identifying innovative ways of developing this line to the benefit of local people and visitors to the region.

The Community Rail Partnership for the line is already doing a great job and this will enable it to go from strength to strength.”

Please leave a comment

  1. Mike Battman Says:

    Great news.

    My trade magazine ‘New Civil Engineer’ has this article in its on-line version…

    Mid-Cheshire railway handed over to community

    Rail minister Theresa Villiers has today announced the Mid-Cheshire railway line in north west England will now be run as community rail service, giving passengers more say on how the service will be run.

    Designation of the line between Chester and Manchester via Northwich will allow train companies to work more closely with community rail partnerships to better design services to meet local needs.

    Mid Cheshire Community Rail Partnership will now be able to work with current train operator Northern Rail to better design services to meet local needs on the route.

    The designation of the line is part of the Community Rail Development Strategy which is looking at innovative ways to operate branch lines. This includes a programme of cost management and direct community involvement via local authorities, community rail partnerships, and other stakeholder groups.

  2. Peter Says:

    One question I have regarding the ‘Community Rail Development Strategy’ is how much can it help to ‘better design services to meet local needs on the route’ with the constraints faced by the number of carriages available to Northern and the number and times of paths available between Edgeley Junction and Manchester?

  3. Mike Battman Says:

    Is there not some mileage in considering running intermediate trains that terminate at Altrincham or Stockport?

  4. The Chairman Says:

    At the moment turning trains round at Stockport to go back towards the Mid Cheshire Line is not an option due to lack of track capacity from Edgeley Junction onwards.

    However, if the mooted platform 5 on the west side was built and signalled so trains could arrive/depart without going across the Down Fast and Up lines, this would present an opportunity.

  5. Andrew Macfarlane Says:

    The Northern Hub scheme should provide additional paths between Stockport and Manchester. One document I read spoke of the possibility of two trains per hour to/from the mid-Cheshire line.

  6. Mike Battman Says:

    Andrew, I fail to see how the Northern Hub scheme can add capacity to the Mersey Viaduct at Stockport (which I understand to be the problem)- I can see that the additional platform at Stockport would help with Mid Cheshire Line trains; but not between Manchester and Stockport.
    If anything, with through trains from Blackburn, Rochdale, etc being added, won’t the situation be worse?

    Am I missing something?

  7. Jen Says:

    The Northern Hub plans mentions more off-peak services to Greater Manchester from the Mid-Cheshire line opposed to Manchester itself. There are also plans for a Stockport-Denton-Victoria service and if both go ahead one option mentioned is running the two as a through service between the Mid Cheshire line and the Denton line.
    See Page 37 of

    I imagine one problem with regular pattern services terminating at Stockport or Altrincham would be the Northern crews are all based in Manchester.

    Network Rail have mentioned the possibly of linking our line to Manchester Airport post-Northern Hub (2019-2024)
    See Page 27 of

  8. Andrew Macfarlane Says:


    The alleged peak hour capacity “problem” beteen Stockport and Manchester at the moment is at Slade Lane Junction. However spare off-peak paths already exist. Manchester-Llandudno ATW diversions have left Piccadilly at xx.42 and gone via Stockport in the fairly recent past.

  9. Jen Says:

    Re: Andrew regarding paths. Apparently, diverted trains don’t need to be allocated paths as such. At least that was the response I got given when I enquired how a peak time Llandudno service diverted along the Mid Cheshire line, running 10 minutes ahead of a Northern service on the Mersey Viaduct, when there were no paths for Chester-Stockport services to continue to Manchester.

  10. Andrew Macfarlane Says:

    Of course we had the fiasco when the pointwork at Heaton Norris Junction was out of action a few months ago. The 07.35 Chester to Stockport normally runs empty from Stockport via Denton but obviously it could not do so. Therefore the train simply ran straight into Piccadilly! Something else you notice is that when the mid-Cheshire line train is 10 or 20 minutes late you often get a clear run between Piccadilly and Stockport.

  11. Conductor Says:

    The Arriva diverted trains seem to have quite a bit of slack added into the timetable from memory. Journeys are timed at around 1h 15mins compared to usual Northern 1h 25 mins to allow for waiting times at Edgeley, Mickle Trafford Single Lines.

    The problem is indeed Slade Lane to Manchester Piccadilly, there are too many additional trains from the likes of Hazel Grove, Crewe, Buxton to accommodate additional Mid Cheshire trains.

  12. Mike Battman Says:

    If the Northern Hub is implemented won’t the number of trains through Slade lane increase due to the new services from north of Manchester to the airport

  13. Edd Says:

    Re: Mike. The Northern Hub includes plans for platforms 15 and 16 at Piccadilly and additional capacity between Slade Lane Junction and Piccadilly.

    The Northern Hub plans mentions the following for Airport services:

    Ten tph from Manchester and beyond, two tph from Crewe and beyond:
    • half hourly from Leeds via Huddersfield: one from Newcastle and one from Middlesbrough
    • half hourly from Preston: one from Scotland and one from Blackpool
    • half hourly stopping service from Liverpool
    • half hourly from Crewe with one starting from Stoke-on-Trent
    • hourly from Cleethorpes via Sheffield
    • hourly from Southport via Salford Crescent
    • hourly from Chester via Manchester
    • hourly from Bradford and Halifax

    It’s currently 9tph to Manchester.

  14. Mike Battman Says:

    Re Edd
    Although I knew about platform 15/16 at Piccadilly, I don’t think that will help with paths south of the station. As I understand it, that will free up the platforms to enable trains to wait a bit longer and get the freight trains through easier.
    The additional capacity at Slade Lane Junction will obviously help
    The list of Airport services, how does that compare with existing services (ie what is the increase?)? The Bradford/Halifax is new, is the Chester one new?

  15. Edd Says:

    I think the current hourly service pattern for northbound departures is:

    Piccadilly only (starts at the Airport)
    Piccadilly only (from Crewe)

    Chester is currently limited to a couple of trains per day.

    To me that looks like the Piccadilly terminators will become through services if implemented as sugggested. Blackpool to Crewe via Manchester Airport could be a possibly with Blackpool going over to electrics

  16. Ted Says:

    It seems a pity Network Rail don’t know where our line runs to and from. In a planning permission application response they refer the line running from CastleFORD to Dee Marsh If they want to introduce some Wrexham-Chester-Northwich-Stockport-Stalybridge-Wakefield-Leeds services I certainly won’t complain!

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