Passengers from Whaley Bridge, Furness Vale and other parts of the North West will have more say on how local rail services are run after the designation of the Buxton-Whaley Bridge-Manchester line as a community rail service. The Glossop-Hadfield-Manchester line is also given the same status.
Designation of these lines, linking Derbyshire with the regional ‘capital’ of Manchester, will enable train companies to work more closely with the community rail partnership to better design services for local needs.
Earlier this year, the Friends of Whaley Bridge Station celebrated the 150th anniversary of the extension of the line from Whaley to Chapel en le Frith, Dove Holes and Buxton. In recent years, Whaley station buildings have been restored, and access to trains has been improved.
Rail minister Norman Baker, announcing the latest designations, said: “I want to encourage communities to become more closely involved with their railways to help create the services and stations passengers deserve.
“That’s why I am delighted to announce these two latest community rail service designations. They are a major step towards helping the High Peak and Hope Valley Community Rail Partnership work closely with local groups to provide innovative and more cost effective rail services for their community.”
Alan Chaplin, interim managing director for Northern Rail, which runs services on the routes, said: “We welcome the designation of the lines. These routes are integral to the area and the designation will help them to prosper, benefiting local people and visitors to the region.”
Cllr Damien Greenhalgh, chair of the High Peak and Hope Valley Community Rail Partnership said: “These designations bring well-deserved recognition for the exhaustive work of the partnership over many years to improve these stations and services for our community.”
Cllr Martin Thomas, Chair of Whaley Bridge Town Council said: “Much has been done already to improve the facilities for rail passengers at Whaley Bridge station, and I would like to thank all those involved. Concern still exists about train frequency at Whaley, and even more so at Furness Vale, and about overcrowding on busy services. This partnership enables the needs of rail-users to be addressed in a constructive and innovative manner. With the prospect of significant improvements in the infrastructure across the region with the Northern Hub project, which is about to get underway, the partnership is a marvellous opportunity for the services on our local lines to be re-invigorated and developed.”
- The community rail development strategy looks at innovative ways of operating local branch lines, through a programme of cost management, a drive to increase passenger numbers and direct community involvement via local authorities, community rail partnerships, and other stakeholder groups.
To date, 19 lines with their services have been designated as community rail lines, ranging from St Ives to Derwent Valley (Derby to Matlock) and the Lakes line (Oxenholme to Windermere).