Public outcry sees Northern Rail reinstate High Peak schools service after Covid hits timetables
Northern Rail has reinstated a vital morning train route from Buxton to help school and college students across the High Peak who were left stranded by timetable changes introduced due to Covid.
The 07.59 service from Buxton to Manchester Piccadilly was suspended as part of a temporary timetable introduced last week, as the company tries to manage the impact of staff absences, but that left many students struggling to make their daily journeys to and from Stockport via stops such as Davenport and Woodsmoor.
In response to public pressure and lobbying efforts from local political figures, Northern has now introduced a Special Stop Order, meaning the 07.36 service will be calling at those two stops from Monday to Friday from January 10 until further notice.
High Peak MP Robert Largan welcomed the decision, saying: “This service is really important to college students across the High Peak, who use it on a daily basis to travel to Stockport or Aquinas Colleges.
“Removing this morning service would have meant students paying more to access their education and more overcrowding on trains through Stockport.”
Although they may now have to begin their journeys earlier than usual – with Davenport stops also removed from some later services – the change should benefit passengers starting in Buxton, Chapel-en-le-Frith, Whaley Bridge, Furness Vale and New Mills.
Due to the timescales and process involved, changes under the Special Stop Order provision may not appear in online Journey Planners until 48 hours before departure of the train.
County councillor Ruth George added: “I’m very pleased that Northern have realised the need for these stops and have reinstated them.
“Northern told me that the 07.59 service will be reinstated at the earliest opportunity when the situation with regards to COVID improves.”
The situation comes at a time when Northern is under scrutiny for plans to introduce new permanent timetables which would cut the frequency of Buxton to Manchester connections during off-peak times.
Many passengers and civic leaders have voiced their opposition to the cuts, and it remains to be seen whether Northern will amend the proposals before they are implemented in December.