The Anonymous Widower

Thoughts On The Buxton Line

In these four posts.

I describe an enjoyable trip up from Manchester Piccadilly station up and down the Buxton Line to Buxton station.

These are some thoughts.

Rolling Stock

The Buxton Line is very stiff for a railway in England. Wikipedia says this about the rolling stock.

Due to steep gradients on this line, Class 142 and Class 153 DMUs are banned from the section of line between Hazel Grove and Buxton. Therefore, services to Buxton are worked by Class 150 and Class 156 DMUs. Also Class 158 DMUs were once blocked from operating on the line to Buxton due to the possibility of the large roof-mounted air vents striking low bridges on the route.Piccadilly to Hazel Grove services used Class 323 electric multiple units up until 2008.

I went up in a Class 150 train and came down in a Class 156 train.

The Class 150 train definitely found the climb a struggle and it wasn’t even that full.

I dread to think how even two Class 156 trains working together would have coped after a City-United Derby in Manchester.

The trains up and down this line need to have the following characteristics.

  • Four-cars or more.
  • Lots of power.
  • Step-free access from the platform for wheel-chair users and buggy pushers.
  • Big windows.
  • Lots of space for luggage and bicycles.

As it is a unique tourist line, what about a commentary available through the train’s wi-fi?

The Class 319 Flex train for which this Manchester to Buxton is going to be a test route, should be a lot better, but as tourism by train grows in importance for the rail companies, a need for a specialist tourism-friendly interior will need to be developed.

These are some pictures I took of a Thameslink Cllass 319/4 train, that will be the starting point for the Class 319 Flex train.

The Class 319 Flex trains could be an improvement. They’ve even got a First Class section.

Stations

When the line is run consistently by one type of rolling stock, I would hope that the platform-train step will be minimised, which I think is one of the biggest drawbacks to train travel for perhaps wheel-chair users and buggy pushers in the UK.

Not on this line, but in my recent trip to the North, on one occasion, I nearly saw a child tipped out of a buggy under a Pacer at Wigan Wallgate station. Luckily the child and the buggy was caught by two quick elderly and obviously savvy passengers.

A straight push-across gets rid of this problem. It can surely be pretty much achieved on the Buxton Line, if one one type of train works the regular services on the line.

I didn’t look in detail, but I suspect that only Stockport, Hazel Grove and Buxton are true step-free stations, although I suspect is not difficult at some stations, especially on the line going to Buxton.

The line going to Buxton is probably the most important side and it would be interesting to see how many passengers get out at intermediate stations coming down from Buxton compared to the number going to Buxton.

Some of the stations were very basic and others less so and I suspect that some improvements would be welcome, especially if on a wet day, you had to wait an hour for a train.

I would think too, that some stations have good views from the Buxton-bound platform, so is there scope to create a proper viewing place for the less-mobile.

There is certainly scope to improve the facilities at stations along the line.

Buxton Station

Buxton station has scope to be made into a proper terminus with perhaps a cafe and a comfortable waiting room.

After my experience recently, that I wrote about in A Good Day Out In A Wheelchair, some form of wheelchair or mobility scooter hire at the station might be in order.

I’ve seen mobility scooter hire at one coastal station before, but I can’t remember where. It might not even have been in the UK!

Train Frequency

This line has an hourly service, with extra trains in the Peak.

But as it is at least a double-track all the way from Manchester Piccadilly to Buxton, I’m sure that the line could be run at a frequency of two trains per hour all day. Especially, if the trains  were like the Class 319 Flex trains and had enough power to maintain a faster timetable, even when fully-loaded.

Perhaps, with two trains per hour and decent kiosks at some of the intermediate stations, it would even attract more casual walkers to explore the line.

Ticketing

The Buxton Line could be one, where the normal ticketing model will be fine for the locals, but may not be the best for tourists and casual users.

Disability Issues

I haven’t had a proper look and I’m no expert, but I do wonder if selected improvements could be made, the line could be a way for those in wheelchairs or with limited mobility to explore the area.

Conclusions

The Buxton Line is a valuable railway for the residents and visitors to the area.

I do wonder though with a small amount of selective and sympathetic development, that it could be made even more valuable.

In some ways, designing the Class 319 Flex train, so that it can work the line, can only encourage more passengers to use the route.

 

March 16, 2017 - Posted by | Travel | , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. […] After I visited the Buxton Line I wrote Thoughts On The Buxton Line. […]

    Pingback by The Tarka Line « The Anonymous Widower | April 7, 2017 | Reply

  2. […] After I visited the Buxton Line I wrote Thoughts On The Buxton Line. […]

    Pingback by Trains Between Barnstaple, Exmouth and Paignton « The Anonymous Widower | April 10, 2017 | Reply


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