Future service patterns

SMART’s aspiration is for two trains per hour throughout the day, with additional trains at peak times.

The one good thing in the otherwise dire and unworkable May 2018 timetable was the introduction of through trains from Marsden and Slaithwaite to Leeds. This ended with the December 2018 timetable change.

The December 2019 timetable has seen peak frequencies to/from Manchester, which were cut in the May 2018 timetable, restored. It also provides some through trains to and from Leeds at peak times. It’s certainly the most frequent service we have had since Slaithwaite station reopened in 1982, and probably the best we have ever had.

Travel to Manchester Victoria has been made much more difficult at the May 2018 timetable change, and needs to be improved either by providing more reliable connections at Stalybridge or by restoration of through services, or by a combination of both.

SMART has been making the case for 2 trains per hour throughout the day, to anyone who would listen (or even anyone who would pretend to listen!), for several years now. Some of them even went so far as to include this as an aspiration in their transport plans.

It turned out (January 2021) that most of the railway industry organisations we have been talking to have indeed been listening. A consultation document was issued (by the one rail industry body we never got to talk to, the Department for Transport) with three options for changing the timetable pattern for services around Manchester. Two of those options involved Marsden and Slaithwaite (and Greenfield and Mossley) getting a half-hourly service throughout the day. If it seemed too good to be true, that what we had been asking for was now being proposed a lot earlier than we had thought either possible or likely, it was.

Unfortunately the Department for Transport then chose to go against the principles they had set out for their own consultation (a half-hourly repeating service pattern) for reasons which range from flimsy to absurd. It seems that even though all the regional transport bodies strongly support our stations getting a half-hourly daytime service, the DfT in London has decided that we do not merit a half-hourly service.

We have not given up on trying to get the half hourly service which most routes in the Leeds and Manchester city regions take for granted.

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