Dispute as a result of possible missing changes to train times information

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Starmill

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I made a journey home from York to Mauldeth Road on Tuesday evening, changing at Manchester Piccadilly. Following a trespass incident near Huddersfield, I had arrived at Manchester Piccadilly around 90 minutes late and after my intended 2247 service to Mauldeth Road had already departed. Normally, a final train follows this one, coming from Blackpool North (where it leaves around 2245) and going to Manchester Airport. This is listed in the Northern rail timetable here as departing from Manchester Piccadilly at 2359.

This evening (or morning?) I made for this connecting service to find it was running instead at 0006. It isn't uncommon for it to run a few minutes earlier or later due to engineering work. However, I was surprised as there has been no mention of this change on station posters. As it is occasionally replaced by a bus it is prudent to check, and I haven't seen any publicity. The problem was that the train was advertised on the screen at Manchester Piccadilly as calling at Mauldeth Road and Manchester Airport only, none of the other intermediate stations at Burnage, East Didsbury, Gatley or Heald Green. I assumed there was an error with the screen. However, the NRE app corroborated this story and so did the open data at Real Time Trains.

When the train arrived, a man with a paper copy of the timetable spoke to the guard. He asked if the train were going to Gatley. The guard replied that the train was for Mauldeth Road and Manchester Airport. The man then asked when the next train to Gatley was. The guard replied that he had no idea.

I thought that this was very suspicious, so I checked the National Rail Enquires page for changes to train times for Northern services. Initially I also tweeted and checked the TransPennine Express website, but this drew a blank as in my haste I had forgotten that the service is now run by Northern rather than TransPennine Express. I think I can be forgiven, as the driver and guard are still TransPennine Express, on account presumably of this work still being allocated to their Manchester Airport traincrew depot, rather than having a Northern crew. Sometimes a TransPennine Express branded train also works this service.

Anyhow the National Rail enquiries page for changes to train times does not show any alterations which might affect a Blackpool North to Manchester Piccadilly to Manchester Airport stopping service.

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As you can see there is a notice about the long-standing changes as a result of the landslip between Carlisle and Appleby, some information about services at the weekend that clearly isn't relevant, and "Amended Northern service each night from 23:00 on Monday 20 and Thursday 23 June", which could be relevant but doesn't mention this service. It also incorrectly says London Victoria instead of Manchester Victoria.

When the platform staff arrived to dispatch the train, he said to the guard "Come on hurry up let's go, before someone for Heald Green turns up." The guard signalled his assent to that and the train departed. This sounds very suspiciously as though the guard and the station staff at Manchester Piccadilly were very well aware of the change to train times, and that some passengers might not be and resultantly come to ask them about it. The man who wanted to go to Gatley had boarded the train and went to speak to the guard. He asked why the printed copy of the timetable was not correct if this train was not calling at Gatley. The guard said he didn't know and that the passenger would need to take it up with Northern who run the service, as he was not employed by them. The man asked what he was supposed to do and how he was supposed to get to Gatley. The guard replied "However you like, Sir."

The man seemed very upset and lost, and I wanted to speak to him, to point out that I thought he was right about the change not being advertised. Sadly I didn't and wasn't sure how he would react to my intervention because he was looking so upset. I also didn't want to become involved with the guard because he had shown some defensiveness. To my surprise the man got up and alighted from the train at Mauldeth Road. This is a very bad idea if you don't know the area and want to be in Gatley. It would be difficult to find a taxi without the aid of Google for a taxi number and a very very very long walk to Gatley. Had the man remained on the train, he would have been able to wait at the Airport, far far safer than on the road at Mauldeth Road and with access to toilets and a taxi rank.

I was dissappointed with the actions of the guard. He was not wearing a tie or a name badge, he didn't make a post-departure announcement (there was no PIS on the train) and he didn't give at all sensible advice to a passenger who was asking him for help. He should have advised the passenger to remain on the train to Manchester Airport, which was safer given it was after midnight and slightly closer to his destination of Gatley, rather than effecitvely saying "I don't know, it's nothing to do with me, do whatever you like." Furthermore, I am shocked indeed that both the guard and station staff seemed to know, or at least suspect that a change to train times had been made without being properly advertised, but chose not to do anything about that. I think that the guard also brought Northern into disrepute by saying that the passenger should 'take it up with northern' - he was there to represent Northern, and being paid for that purpose. He also closed the doors while people at Mauldeth Road were still getting off, trapping someone in the door for about 30 seconds. Admittedly they were drunk and alighting very slowly, but perhaps that was a good thing on account of being somewhat inebriated?

So my questions: where are these changes to train times advertised? How can it be that this change is made without people knowing about it, and when and why were the changes made?

If you search for engineering work from Gatley for the remainder of the week, you are given the same information that NRE has, and there is no information about this service. It seems very very odd to remove the stops at all stations except for Mauldeth Road between Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport. I can't think of a reason why this might be necessary, and I really can't think of why a bus replacement wouldn't be provided.


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Shaw S Hunter

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Left hand, right hand......

The only thing that occurs to me is if the other stations, which you will not have seen of course, are having some sort of work carried out which required them to be closed early. It does seem unlikely. Clearly a communication breakdown somewhere. Perhaps you could ask TfGM, they must surely have been informed.
 

bb21

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Indeed a bit naughty to have not provided replacement transport for the last service of the day for some stations.
 

Bletchleyite

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Indeed a bit naughty to have not provided replacement transport for the last service of the day for some stations.

Particularly as it sounds like a taxi on demand (back from the Airport in this case) would have sufficed, that would have cost the railway what, 20-30 quid?

It's disappointing to see two threads of this nature of late - this one and Chiltern. More thought definitely needed.
 
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