Passenger service back on track

AN exciting first step has been taken towards restoring a passenger rail service between Stockport and Ashton.

Andrew Gwynne, MP for Denton and Reddish, has formally submitted a proposal to the Restoring Your Railway Fund for a passenger service from Stockport to Ashton, stopping at Reddish South and Denton.

The Restoring Your Railway Fund will distribute £500 million of funds to reinstate axed local services and restore stations. MPs, local councils and community groups from across England and Wales can submit proposals to the Department for Transport.

With the support of Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council, Mr Gwynne has submitted a proposal to expand and upgrade the line between Heaton Norris Junction in Stockport and Guide Bridge/Ashton Moss Junction.

Trains would stop at Reddish South and Denton, which would both be upgraded, and there is a possibility of new stations at Heaton Norris and Thornley Lane on the Reddish/Denton border.

The route would form part of an orbital rail route between Stockport and Tameside, something that Greater Manchester is currently lacking.

Mr Gwynne, who has been working closely with the Friends of Reddish South, Friends of Denton Station, TfGM and Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, said: “In Denton and Reddish, we have been under-served by a rail system for far too long. That’s why I was delighted to submit a formal bid for funds for an Ashton-Stockport line, stopping in both Denton and Reddish.

“This line would open up all sorts of new opportunities for people in our area, as well as finally providing a proper rail link between Tameside and Stockport which is long overdue.

“Thanks to the Mayor of Greater Manchester and Transport for Greater Manchester for their technical help in putting the bid together.”

Though the proposal to the Restoring Your Railway Fund had to be made by an MP, Mr Gwynne added Tameside and Stockport Councils and TfGM were sponsoring the initiative.

Mr Gwynne explained there were two options for the route.

Heavy rail using the existing rail infrastructure and which would have two services each hour between Stockport and Manchester Victoria via Ashton Moss.

The light rail option would be for the line to become part of the Metrolink network with five services each hour between Stockport and Ashton Moss where it would join up with the existing tram network into Manchester.

The main capital expenditure would be to reinstate the four kilometre stretch between Reddish South and Denton as double track.

Mr Gwynne added the prime objectives for the proposal were to cut car journeys, explaining poor public transport was responsible for workers taking to the road.

“This scheme opens up options along the eastern corridor and provides viable travel options travelling to Manchester, both to Piccadilly and Victoria stations,” he said.

He pointed there were 88,088 people living within two kilometres of the line, a high percentage being semi or unskilled.

A daily passenger service from Stockport to Stalybridge, calling at Reddish South, Denton and Guide Bridge, ceased to operate in 1992.

Between 1992 and 2018, a single passenger journey between Stockport and Stalybridge took place.

This minimal service, termed a parliamentary train for historical reasons, avoids the official procedures of terminating a passenger service.

The re-routing of TransPennine Express services from Leeds to Manchester Piccadilly in May 1989 removed the main reason for it, with passengers who used the Stalybridge-Stockport shuttle avoiding the need to change stations in Manchester.

The service was initially reduced to five trains per day (three in one direction and two the other), but by 1992 had been cut to one train journey each week.

But in May 2018, Northern introduced a second passenger journey on the line and switched it from Friday to Saturday.

The weekly service leaves Stalybridge at 8.46am, arriving at 9.09am. It returns at 9.45am getting back to Stalybridge for 10.06am.

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