New rail franchise for High Peak a ‘step in the right direction’, but calls for more Buxton trains

Buxton Railway Station
Buxton Railway Station

Improvements to rail services in the High Peak announced as part of the new Northern Rail and Trans-Pennine franchises have been welcomed by High Peak Borough Council.

The Department for Transport intends to award the franchise to Arriva Rail North Ltd. Key improvements will include more trains between New Mills Newtown and Manchester, and Hazel Grove and Manchester and faster journeys between Buxton and Manchester with a maximum journey time of 55 minutes.

It’s got to be slightly disappointing that Buxton didn’t get a half-hourly service, whereas New Mills will.

Andrew Walker, Project Manager for the High Peak and Hope Valley Rail Partnership

Council leader, councillor Tony Ashton, said: “The council is very pleased to see that many of the things we have been lobbying for will be delivered under the new franchise resulting in more services, more capacity and faster journey times for travellers to and from the High Peak.

“Good transport links and strong connectivity within the region benefit everyone opening up access to jobs and leisure amenities and helping to ensure businesses can operate efficiently – an essential element of our growth strategy – so this is good news for our borough.

“There are still further improvements we need to see, and in particular, more trains right through to Buxton, but we’ll be looking hard at the detail of the announcement to see if more can be achieved.”

Train service campaigners, meanwhile, have called Arriva’s promises of improved services a step in the right direction, but also said more could be done to improve Buxton’s services.

Andrew Walker, Project manager of the High Peak and Hope Valley Rail Partnership, welcomed the promised investment to improve services, including upgrading to faster trains and adding journeys to make services more frequent.

He said: “We’ve been campaigning for a better service on the Buxton line for many years, and this announcement makes some positive commitments.

“They’re going to invest in a lot of new carriages, but we don’t know whether they’re going to be for Buxton.

“We’ve long had slow journey times to Manchester relating to old rolling stock, and also passenger traffic on the railways has grown.”

News is also positive for Glossop which will see faster electric trains on the rails within the next few years.

But the news for Buxton could be better, he added: “It’s got to be slightly disappointing that Buxton didn’t get a half-hourly service, whereas New Mills will.

“We’re eagerly awaiting to see how they’re going to achieve these improvements and they tie in with the area’s ambitions for refurbishment and regeneration.”