New Timetable from 9th December 2018

New timetables now online at and

The main changes are that the Manchester Piccadilly to Leeds stopping service (the one that calls at Greenfield  and Marsden) is to be split into a Manchester Piccadilly to Huddersfield service (which will call at Greenfield, Marsden and also Slaithwaite), and a separate Huddersfield to Leeds stopping service.

In practical terms this means that times at Slaithwaite will be on the opposite half-hour from now. Apart from one early morning service and two evening trains (at Slaithwaite), there will no longer be through trains between Marsden/Slaithwaite and Leeds.

There are also changes to the peak hour trains westbound operated by Northern.

It seems a bit pointless to compare it with the timetable from May to December 2018, as the current timetable bears little relation to reality.

The reasoning behind this is that it will improve reliability, and it’s difficult to argue against this as an objective. The disruption to the peak services to and from Manchester, and to the daytime services, is something which needed to be addressed.

If your daily commute is to and from Leeds, with minor delays but relatively few cancellations, then you might not be aware of just how difficult the Manchester commute has become, with the peak frequency reduced from half-hourly to hourly and with even the reduced service being regularly cancelled or terminated at Stalybridge. The daytime service, too, has been subject to a large number of cancellations, often leaving two, three or even occasionally four hour gaps with no service.

The disappointment is that the one good thing in the May 2018 timetable, the through trains to Leeds, has had to be removed in an attempt to provide the reliability which should never have been lost in the first place.

Posted in Marsden, Northern Rail, Slaithwaite, timetable changes, Transpennine | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

TPE’s Idea of “Good Service On Most Of Our Network”

It’s things like this that make it difficult for SMART to say nice things about Transpennine Express.

A total of 20 cancellations, all of trains serving Slaithwaite and/or Marsden, on Saturday 3rd November. None of this is because the line is blocked – it isn’t – or because no trains are running along the route – most of the expresses are still running. The reason given for the cancellations is “driver shortage”.

When their website is describing this as “good service” at the same time as TPE journey check is listing a string of cancellations, it is apparent that TPE also have some communication issues.

Posted in Marsden, Slaithwaite, Transpennine | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

“Train driver ‘did not know where to stop’. Anger as teenage girl, 15, left stranded by TransPennine Express”

Train driver ‘did not know where to stop’. Anger as teenage girl, 15, left stranded by TransPennine Express

[from the Yorkshire Post, 26 October 2018]

Bosses at under-fire rail operator TransPennine Express have admitted that a 15-year-old teenage girl may have been left stranded miles from home because a train driver did not know where to stop on one of the region’s busiest routes.

The extraordinary admission comes after the troubled rail firm sent an apologetic letter to Nicola Robinson after she submitted a formal complaint about her daughter Chloe’s plight.

Details emerged just days after Thelma Walker, the MP for Colne Valley, persuaded Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to agree to meet local campaigners who have been highlighting persisting problems on the main line between Leeds and Manchester.

Despite repeated calls and emails from The Yorkshire Post to the TransPennine Express press office, the company did not offer an explanation for the saga which took place on September 29.

Mrs Robinson’s daughter had travelled from Slaithwaite to Leeds that day to spend money that had been given to her for her 15th birthday. She then caught the 13.41 train back home.

Even though the family says that passenger information screens confirmed that the train was due to stop at the Slaithwaite, and that this was backed up by National Rail Enquiries in a subsequent phone call, the first Mrs Robinson realised there was a problem was when she received a frantic call from her panic-stricken daughter.

She said Chloe was in tears as the train passed Slaithwaite without stopping – and then the telephone line went dead as passengers passed through one of the long tunnels along the line.

She was able to get off the train at Stalybridge, on the outskirts of Greater Manchester, before facing an anxious wait on her own before catching a train back home in order to begin her Saturday job at a local shop.

The family complained to TransPennine Express and a member of the operator’s customers relations team replied this week:

“I have investigated this journey for you, and I have been able to see that the train failing to stop was in fact due to an operational issue.

“I could not tell you specifically why this has happened, although it may be due to the driver not being fully informed of whereabouts to stop along that route, and if this is the case you have my most sincere apologies.”

They enclosed £3.70 to reimburse the Robinson family for the cost of the ticket and a £10 rail voucher valid for 12 months which “can be used anywhere on the UK rail network excluding the London Underground and the Heathrow Express”.

More than 750 trains serving Slaithwaite and nearby stations have either been cancelled since new timetables were introduced earlier this year – or seen late-running trains ordered not to stop at Pennine communities in a bid to make up lost time between major towns and cities.

Many commuters say they’re being forced to make alternative travel plans while local businesses claim the unreliability of train services is hitting tourism in the Colne Valley.

Local MP Thelma Walker said:

“The situation that my constituents have had to face over the last several months with rail provision is unacceptable. Journey times have been extended, commuters can’t get to work on time, they have had to sacrifice time with their families and have struggled to make childcare arrangements to cope with the chaos.

“Since the May timetable changes, there have not been two consecutive weekdays without cancellations affecting Slaithwaite and Marsden. Furthermore, there are accessibility issues at Marsden station, making it incredibly difficult for disabled rail users to use the services.

“While the quality of provision has rapidly deteriorated since May, fares continue to rise, and the compensation scheme in place does not reflect the extent of the disruptions. Many of my constituents have reluctantly decided to travel by car, and local businesses are also being impacted.”

Meanwhile Mrs Robinson describes the company’s latest excuse as “pathetic” and said passengers of all ages should expect to receive reliable information at stations – and on trains.

“There’s the safety aspect – Chloe was left very upset – but the thing that annoys me most of all is that the conductor checked her ticket,” she added.

“Why didn’t he tell her that the train was not stopping at the station?

“It can’t carry on like this.”

After this story was published online, TransPennine Express sent an email to The Yorkshire Post. It said “In regards to the enquiry this morning, we would be happy to get in touch with the complainant directly about this matter. Could you pass this onto her so we could reach out to her on Monday?”

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has agreed to meet members of SMART – Slaithwaite and Marsden Action on Rail Transport – to discuss the persistent problems facing passengers on the trans-Pennine line.

Colne Valley MP Thelma Walker has been inundated with complaints and met Mr Grayling earlier this week to put these to him as the number of services cancelled at short notice continues to mount.

“The Government must answer for this chaos,” she said. “The Transport Secretary seemed to be listening, but now needs to meet with the rail user groups who have been campaigning so actively since May.”

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Mark Wylie: “Welcome to TransPennine Express – a passenger’s long wait for a semi-reliable service”

Mark Wylie: Welcome to TransPennine Express – a passenger’s long wait for a semi-reliable service

[from the Yorkshire Post, 10 October 2018]

I have been commuting from West Yorkshire to Manchester for over 25 years. For the past three years, I have been commuting by train after moving to Slaithwaite, a village on the main trans-Pennine line from Leeds to Manchester.

The differences between the benefits that we were told we were going to get and the actual service we do get since TransPennine Express (TPE) took over our daily services is quite dramatic.

TPE promised us newer trains, faster journey times, direct services to Leeds and Manchester, increased seating capacity, services running earlier and later during the day and, crucially, more frequent and reliable services.

When compared to the Northern rolling stock that we were used to, there are some improvements. The trains are both comfortable and air-conditioned, and with wi-fi for those who need it.

We did get the promised services that ran both earlier in the morning and later in the evening, and this has been a benefit to those rail passengers in the Colne Valley.

However, it didn’t take long for our dreams of a better service to disappear and many commuters are now quite simply fed up of TPE’s service since the May timetable change.

We have now got used to the fact that we can no longer travel to Marsden, the next village along the line as our trains now ‘skip stop’ into Manchester. Now you sometimes see confused walkers trying to figure out how to get to their car that they have left at Marsden.

There have been problems almost every week. The delays aren’t always large, normally between five and 10 minutes, and are more of an annoyance than anything else, although it does mean that the TPE services are no faster than the previous Northern ones.

Far more worrying is the number of cancellations. On my journey to and from Manchester each week, there is often at least one train cancelled that I am intending to catch. Sometimes it just doesn’t run, at other times it is ‘part-cancelled’. This is something I had never heard of before May 2018.

Basically, certain stops are deleted from a train’s route or it terminates early instead of reaching its timetabled destination. This has left me and other rail travellers waiting at Slaithwaite while the expected train speeds past non-stop to make up time.

Likewise, if there is more than a 10-minute delay, we have been left waiting for trains in Manchester only to find out that it has terminated early and turned around at Stalybridge, resulting in a hour-long wait for the next train.

This is not just an occasional problem, there have been well over 500 cancellations or part-cancellations since May 2018.

A seven-minute turnaround time at Manchester Piccadilly is simply not long enough for a long-distance service from Hull. For those of us trying to get back to the Colne Valley in the evening, it is normally an hour-long wait for the next service, despite TPE management promising what is called a ‘special stop order’.

This is an additional station stop to make up for a previously cancelled service. That these ‘special stop orders’ are so rare makes me think that TPE management do not care about regular passengers from smaller stations.

Because of late running, cancellations, and part-cancellations, I have missed or arrived late for meetings at work, evening events and rail connections to elsewhere in the country. For those commuters with children it must be even worse, never sure if the train they intend to catch will get them back home in time for them to pick up their children or have quality time with them in the evening.

Despite TPE’s claim to have a significant increase in seating capacity, it is now a regular feature for some commuters to already be standing from Huddersfield, and I expect to stand throughout my journey to Manchester at least three or four times in the week.

Having said all this, the front-line staff are almost uniformly excellent. Most understand the frustrations of commuters on these overcrowded, delayed or part-cancelled trains. They use their common sense and deliver customer service by advising revised connection times on delayed services.

Yet there appears to have been no common sense at play in the management of the timetable change – 
or in TPE management trying to fix 
these issues for the benefit of passengers on a day-to-day basis.

Mark Wylie is a regular commuter from Slaithwaite. A museum curator, he actively chooses to use 
public transport for environmental reasons.



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