Davenport Railway Station

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Sunday bus replacements

Every Sunday in January 2020 there's a replacement bus service between Hazel Grove and Manchester due to engineering work in the Stockport area.  Timetable here.

The bus stops for Davenport are at the Park gates on Bramhall Lane and across the road by the green.  If you use the bus and it stops at the wrong stop or takes the wrong route, please let us know.
03 December 2020

Christmas travel

The last train from Manchester Piccadilly to Davenport on Christmas Eve 24 December is the 21:44 to Hazel Grove, but these trains from Blackpool tend to be cancelled; we'd recommend  the 21:24 to Buxton. No trains at all will run 25 and 26 December, but Stagecoach bus 192 runs on Boxing day until mid-evening.

Transport for Greater Manchester summary | Stagecoach bus services
24 December 2019

Davenport in a novel

Steve Walsh writes: I have just finished a fiction novel, Wilson Indeed! which features Davenport Station. Very briefly, the book is about a teenage superhero with special powers who goes to Stockport College and lives in Bramhall, with his mum and dad. One night, he meets a girl in a dream who possesses the same 'super' powers, and they arrange to meet the next day - in real life, in Starbucks. And so the story starts.

However, in the very first chapter the hero saves the life of a girl involved in a car crash outside Davenport Station - in very dramatic fashion. If the novel is successful, perhaps the station could become the equivalent of the platform at King's Cross in the Harry Potter books. We all have to think big.

The book can be bought on Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1916486118
20 December 2019

Train cancellations explained

We asked Northern's 'Stakeholder Manager' if he could write something for us to publish by way of explaining explain the high number of weekday train cancellations that we have seen in recent weeks. Here it is:

The primary reason for the late cancellations of trains through Davenport, certainly on 18 November, was listed as due to a shortage of drivers. Unfortunately the reasons for cancellations are somewhat narrowly defined by Network Rail, so the impression is given that Northern does not have enough drivers to operate our services.

The actual reason for these and other cancellations is that we are currently having to take out drivers from normal duties so that they can undergo 9 days training on our new trains, which are being rolled out in the coming weeks and months. Our original plan was to spread out the training from August - when demand on our services is less. Unfortunately, due to the late delivery of the new trains, the training period has been concentrated into a shorter time frame. What this means is that there is very little flexibility when a driver becomes unwell. Under normal circumstances we would normally have a pool of drivers working as reserves, and these drivers would fill in if a driver is unwell, or if a driver has been delayed getting to the depot / start station. At the current time as so many drivers need to be on the mandatory training, the standby drivers are undertaking normal driving duties, and there are significantly fewer standby drivers available to step in at short notice.

I hope this explains the challenges we currently face, on top of other issues such as leaf fall and severe weather conditions.

6 December 2019

Christmas events

Friends of Cale Green Park are holding their 'Chistmas in the Park' event on Sunday 1 December from 12.00 to 15:00 with music, food and attractions for children. Meanwhile the always-enjoyable Christmas Tree Festival at St George's Church is now open.

We are also pleased to say that the Funky Monkey Coffee Company at 175 Bramhall Lane have now opened their extension in to the adjacent shop.
28 November 2019

Autumn Timetable Change

As usual, from 7 October the annual 'leaf-fall' timetable comes into force on our line. Most trains coming from Buxton will depart Davenport up to three minutes earlier that than the normal time, allowing drivers to start and stop their trains more cautiously on slippy rails. The revised timetable leaflet is available on the Northern website.

Network Rail does its best to improve the situation by a daily tun of the 'Rail Head Treatment Train' which lays a sand-based paste on the rails. You might see it passing through around 21:15.
5 October 2019

Village news

The 'bistro' at 203 Bramhall Lane called '203 the Lane' has re-opened under new management, and we have heard some good reports. 

Further along the lane, work is under way to rebuild the former workwear shop at No. 195 as a pub and flats; the building work is quite comprehensive, as the image above shows. The Edwardian features of the frontage will, we are assured, be preserved - all the shops are in a Conservation Area. The appointed tenant of the pub has been in touch with us, and has some interesting ideas for the pub.

Over at the 'Jolly Sailor' there's an acoustic music evening on Fridays. The revived pub with its carvery seems to be doing well, especially with family groups. As promised, they have provided an area for those who just want to have a drink, in what they call the 'rear of the pub' which to our non-car-owning viewpoint is the front.

Down by St George's Church, work has begun on development of the old Vicarage and its grounds, after years of neglect and dereliction. The building will be restored as apartments, with a new building alongside with more flats - necessary, say the developers, for viability - and in the grounds, three pairs of semi-detached houses which will be in harmony with the local style. Our image is from the Design and Access Statement which can be found on the Stockport Planning Database under the number 70682.

It's good to see that the Cale Green Park tennis courts have been give a makeover, complete indestructible metal nets. As the logs on the court indicate, this has been sponsored by the Fred Perry company, founded by the famous tennis player who was born in Stockport, although like several other Stockport celebrities (Joseph Whitworth, Norman Foster, Sabrina...) he left with his family when still a child.
24 September 2019

Steam trains

Steam traction has been seen at Davenport several times this summer: our picture shows 45699 Galatea passing on 23 January, coasting downhill with excess steam blowing from the safety valves. This train, like most of the others, had no passengers aboard. West Coast Railways have been running a series of excursions from Burton-on-Trent to Stratford-on-Avon, and the trains we saw have been moving from the company's depot at Carnforth to and from Burton.

45699 is one of 191 'Jubilee class' locos built for the London Midland and Scottish Railway in the 1930s for use principally on secondary express services. It was sent to a scrapyard in Barry in 1964, only to be rescued by preservationists in 1983 and returned to working order.  The 'Jubilee' in question was 25 years if King George V's reign, and most of the locos were named after parts of the Empire; when they ran out of places the LMS took to a naval theme, ships and admirals. The HMS Galatea of the period was a Royal Navy light cruiser commissioned in 1935 and sunk by a U-boat in 1941 resulting in the death of 469 sailors. Today's Galatea is a Trinity House lighthouse tender built in 2007.
24 September 2019

Timetable news

The timetables for 15 December onwards are now on the railway's database; Davenport's service appears to be more or less identical to the current one, except that the extra Sunday services which were removed from the timetable, due to the inability to guarantee a driver to work their trains, are restored. It remains to be seen whether this actually happens; as we understand it, the talks with the RMT union regarding Sunday working failed to reach an agreement.

Unfortunately, the weekday timetable will still include trains which do not stop here or at Woodsmoor, causing considerable inconvenience to passengers, especially those for whom our stations are a destination. We have prepared a short document which we intend to pass to the railway authorities, Transport for Greater Manchester and local councillors, requesting changes for the May 2020 service; we do not accept that this skipping of stops is necessary, and if it is, extra trains should be provided to fill in the gaps.  You can download it here - comments are welcome at info@davenportstation.org.uk.

Some interesting news is a suggestion that the new 'Class 331' electric trains will, at a date not yet clear, be taking over the Hazel Grove - Blackpool service. Like their Class 195 diesel sisters which are now running on the Airport - Liverpool / Barrow services, these have air-conditioning, wi-fi, and 2+2 seating with decent leg room.

17 September 2019

Railway Company changes

Station users might have noticed that the 'East Midlands Trains' class 158 and 156 trains which pass by on the way to Liverpool or Norwich  now have the branding 'EMR Regional' applied to their existing colour scheme. EMR stands for (guess what) East Midlands Railway. The franchise held by the (Scottish) Stagecoach Group has expired, and the Department for Transport in its wisdom has chosen to award it to Abellio, which is a subsidiary of the Netherlands State Railway. Why these changes of name are necessary is hard to understand - it doesn't happen with other kinds of franchise such as coffee shops.

A further change will occur in December, when Virgin Trains, who have run the West Coast Main Line jointly with Stagecoach since privatisation in the 1990s, hand over to a consortium of the Italian State Railway 'Trenitalia' and FirstGroup, another company with its roots in Scottish bus operation. The franchise includes the services on the new 'HS2' line if and when it gets completed. The brand name has yet to be revealed, but we do know that the Pendolino trains on the London route will remain, albeit with some refurbishment.

As for Northern, it will continue to be run by Arriva, a UK bus group which was sold to the German Railways some years ago, until 2025 unless something drastic happens. We understand that the Germans are looking for a buyer for the whole Arriva empire.

17 September 2019

Local events

There are two forthcoming community events which we can recommend:

Saturday 27 July sees the annual Open Day at Flowery Field Allotments in Woodsmoor, which is always an enjoyable even both for the chance to look at the work of the gardeners, even buy some of their produce, and partake of the hot-dogs or the tea and cakes and look at some charity stalls. It runs from 10.30 am to 2pm; we advise visiting in the morning. There's a small admission charge.

On Sunday 4 August, the Friends of Mirrlees Fields are having  a 'BioBlitz', descibed as

A  fun day of bug hunting, plant ID and bird spotting with Cheshire Wildlife Experts. In this BioBlitz we will be literally crawling all over an area on Mirrlees Fields to see what we can find - birds, butterflies, insects, beetles, moths -  as well as identifying plant species. Cheshire Wildlife Trust's  Nick Rowles will be on hand to guide us on this close inspection of the wild life on Mirrlees Fields. Though the event is designed to add to our knowledge of what is on the Fields, it is primarily aimed at families to have a fun day out.

Suitable for children 5 and over, The event is free - though donations are always welcome. Meet at Crossfield Grove entrance at 11.00am or come and find us any time until 3pm. Bring a picnic!
If you don't know Mirrlees Fields, it's well worth a visit at any time for a touch of the countryside in the suburbs. There's now a paved footpath which offers a circular walk of just over a mile. The main access is from Crossfield Grove, which is a short walk along a path from Woodsmoor station.
23 July 2019

Business News (Update)

The '203 the Lane' bistro on Bramhall Lane is set to open again on 1 August, under the same owner but slightly different management.  The owners say:
With the addition of a full licence, there will now be an extensive wine list, draft lagers, IPA & craft beers, together with an extensive array of gins, spirits and soft drinks. We will also accept card payments as well as cash. Peter [Sweeney] has developed a modern British small plate menu with worldwide influence which will cater for all tastes and will include vegetarian, vegan & gluten-free options. We will be offering a breakfast/brunch menu until 12noon and the small plate menu from 12 noon onwards.
Here at the Davenport Station website we have had to look up what a 'small plate menu' is ... but good luck to them anyway.

Meanwhile, the planning application  to turn No. 179 Bramhall lane into a 'drinking establishment'  (see below) has been granted by the council, so we await developments there. An application (DC/074063 on the Council database) was filed in 10 July to convert the empty shop at 177 Bramhall Lane into a extension of the adjacent Monkey Coffee Company premises. We greatly approve of this; often we have been denied our hoped-for jacket potato due to lack of seats!

Meanwhile, as everyone knows, the 'Jolly Sailor' is open again - complete with an extension 'orangery' at the rear under the management of the locally-based Almond Group, and appears to be thriving. 
23 July 2019

Business news

A planning application (DC/07313 on the database) has been filed with Stockport Council which would change the use of the former Direct Workwear' shop at 179 Bramhall Lane to planning class 'A4' which means 'drinking establishments' and create two flats above, while retaining the features of the current frontage.  The applicant is listed as 'Mr Kilcommons'.

The postcard above, which appears to date from about 1905, shows the state of the building, 175-179, at that time, when most of the the houses on this part of the Lane had were already used as shops.  No.177 was trading as a newsagent, with various goods in the window. No. 179 for some reason had a different frontage than 175 and 179. The wall of the Hallam recreation ground, opened in 1902, can be seen on the left.

Latest news is that the 'GB Trophies' shop at 177, a long-standing Davenport business, closed on 30 May, to re-open in premises at 324 Buxton Road, Great Moor, formerly a branch of Tongue's estate agent.

Meanwhile, the bank building remains empty, and the '203 The Lane' bistro appears to have closed its doors.

Updated $ June 2019

Manchester United Halt

We have been asked if we know why Manchester United Football Ground station has not had a train service on match days in the last season. This was raised at a meeting last month with the Northern station manager and Community Manager; it appears that there have been some discussions recently between Northern and MUFC, but there remain two separate obstacles to the future use of the line.

The first reason, advanced by the Club, is that passengers arriving at the station can proceed directly to the stadium, without passing through the security cordon faced by those walking in from the street. In the light of the ongoing terrorism situation, this is considered inadvisable.

Consideration has (briefly we suspect) been given to building a new platform on the (currently disused)  'turnback siding' on the opposite side of the line at White City, with an exit created to the street at Sir Matt Busby Way - a station there has been proposed in the past - but money would have to be found, and such a station would be required to be accessible to wheelchairs, etc. An additional station on the main line would be even more expensive, and serving it would be difficult to fit in the timetable.

In addition, however, the increased number of trains calling at Manchester Piccadilly and Oxford Road since the May 2018 timetable change means it is difficult to find a path for trains to the ground, especially since kick-off times these days are very variable, in contrast to the 3pm Saturday or 7.30 Weekdays standard in times past.

The new Metrolink Trafford Park line will have a station at Wharfside, which it hoped will take some of the load from existing Metrolink stations, although it is not as close as the railway station and will require crossing a busy road.

Incidentally, our station ticket machine does now offer through tickets to Metrolink stations, which are a considerable saving over re-booking in Manchester. Enter 'Metrolink' and you will see a choice of combinations of Zones. The problem remains that you need to know the 'zone' in which your destination station lies. We suggest you download this map before travelling.
7 May 2019

A letter from the Mayor

Although an improvement in some ways, notably the restoration of through services beyond Piccadilly, the timetable which comes into force on 19 May reduces by one the number of morning peak services to Manchester.

Our colleague Andy Stobbie of Woodsmoor Station friends wrote to Mayor Andy Burnham about this; here is his reply:
Thank you for contacting me in relation to rail services from Woodsmoor and Davenport under the new May 2019 timetable. Firstly. please accept my apologies for the delay in responding to you.

With regards to the May 2019 timetable, the Hazel Grove services are re-timed to XX:21 to XX:02 which puts these services in front of the Buxton services. Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has raised the issues you have described with Northern who did investigate the possibility of the XX:12 service [the 07:36 train from Buxton which passes Davenport non-stop at 08:15] stopping at Woodsmoor and Davenport].  However, this has been deemed operationally not possible. TfGM will continue to bring this matter to Northernís attention during future timetable changes and, should the Opportunity to implement this change arise, Northern will consider this suggestion accordingly.

It is worth noting that under the May 2019 timetable. Woodsmoor and Davenport have two more services to Manchester than the Train Service Requirement (TSR) requires. This is because there are nine arrivals at Piccadilly in the 0700 ó 0959 time band compared to the seven arrivals specified in the TSR.

As Mayor of Greater Manchester it is my duty to ensure that our local rail services. which provide such vital connections for our communities, improve and I will continue working alongside TfGM. Network Rail and the Operators to make sure this happens.

Our first comment is that the 'TSR' agreed with the Department of Transport was, as we complained at the time it was published, inadequate, as it assumed that Davenport and Woodsmoor are minor stations.

It would also have been good to have have had from someone an actual explanation of why stops on the train are 'deemed operationally impossible'. This has been discussed by us in a meeting of Railway friends with local managers on 26 April, but we still don't fully understand the thinking involved except that the train from Buxton might been too crowded to board. There is an East Midlands train from Nottingham might be delayed. However, there won't be any changes now until December 2019.

There is a gap between the 08:06 and the 08:40 to Manchester - something very similar was the case, for the same reason, in the timetable before before the chaos of May 2018. The 07:56 introduced in December was a response to our complaints about an even bigger gap, from 07:40 to 08:25, but Network Rail have not allowed this from May 19.

It should be borne in mind that there was no 'consultation phase' for this timetable. We are told that a number of  Davenport passengers have complained to Northern, some via their elected representatives. It would help if such complaints could be copied to us at


so that we can be aware when attending meetings of a broad spectrum of local opinion.

26 April 2019

Sunday trains

Without any explanation to passengers, or publicity, the two trains per hour service which  has been available on Sundays at Davenport has been reduced to one per hour with effect from 31 March, with the Hazel Grove 'turnbacks' removed and only the Buxton - Manchester services running - and number of those were cancelled at short notice on 31 March due to unavailability of staff. Anyone downloading the timetable leaflet from the Northern website will get the impression that there are no Sunday services at all, whilst the timetable posters at the station have not been altered at the time of writing. Note that the last train from Manchester on Sundays is affected by this.

Furthermore, advance information shows that this situation will continue through the summer.
Updated 19 April 2019

Penalty Fares

From 18 March, Northern's 'penalty fare' scheme is extended to cover our station, anyone boarding a train with out a ticket of a 'promise to pay' ticket - obtainable free from the machine-  is liable to be charged a penalty fare of 'the greater of £20 or twice the full single from the station where they got on the train to the next station at which the train stops.'  When the ticket office is open, you should buy your ticket there to obtain the full range of available tickets, as there are some options not available on the machine. (You can also buy tickets online and collect them from the ticket office or the machine.)

The machine does not take cash, and the text on the promise to pay ticket seems to imply that the conductor will only accept it and not cards.  However, what's not clear is what happens (outside ticket office hours) if you have a season ticket of pass and want to continue beyond its validity, a feature not available on the machine. Presumably there is no need to get a promise to pay ticket.

The revenue officers who will be charging the penalties have some discretion, hence the word 'may' in the Northern documents. It remains to be seen if this discretion applies to someone travelling towards Buxton who does not make the journey over the bridge and back to buy a ticket or promise to pay ticket. Problems really start when the machine is out of order, not an unusual occurrence.  If the conductor does not appear, will the agency staff who check tickets at Piccadilly believe you? It's been suggested that you take a photo of the machine as proof!
17 March 2019

The Charlestown Story

Our latest local history feature attempts to unravel the complicated history of the 'Jolly Sailor' inn and its surroundings.  Comments are very welcome.
28 February 2019.

Smartcards and Penalty fares

Changes to fare and ticket options are coming thick and fast from Northern, sometimes leaving customers (including us) puzzling about the details.

Northern's Season Tickets sold or renewed now are being issued on (in?) plastic 'Smartcards' which need to be scanned by a reading device to check the ticket that's 'loaded' on them. The plan is that the system will later be extended to other kinds of ticket, in the style of the London 'Oyster Card'. There is no need for a photograph, but holders 'may be asked for proof of identity'.  The cards are 'not transferable', so your partner can't use yours at the weekend, but we suspect this will be hard to enforce.  Sadly, travellers are now faced with a variety of cards to keep in their wallet - Stagecoach Bus, Metrolink, 'Get me There' etc.  Perhaps things will become clearer in due course.

There is a web page about the system, but some aspects seem vague to the uninitiated. Conductors and ticket checkers will have to carry a scanner to check passenger's tickets as there is no visible evidence of the expiry date or route, while ticket barriers will read them in a contactless way. Presumably compatible scanners will have to be issued to conductors of all companies sharing routes with Northern if the current validity is not to change, as there is nothing to prevent us using our Davenport - Manchester season tickets on any train from Stockport to Manchester, for example.

From 18 March, the Buxton line will be included in Northern's 'Penalty Fare' scheme. If you join a train with no ticket you become liable to pay a Penalty Fare - see the Northern website for details. Outside booking office hours you are expected to obtain a free 'Promise to Pay' (PTP) ticket from the station ticket machine, and pay on-train or at the first opportunity. This applies if you only have cash, or the machine cannot sell you the ticket you want. The latter category includes an number of different kinds of ticket as things stand - 'Duo', Day Rangers and various types of 'System One' ticket' and through tickets to Metrolink stations, no name a few. As well as being inconvenient, it is a loophole for anyone who doesn't want to buy a ticket: if challenged, just ask for one of the above. We have been told by Northern there will soon be new software in the machines which will be able to deal with a bigger range of tickets.

An irritating feature which applies to  small stations is that there is only one ticket machine, on the Manchester-bound platform. So if travelling southwards, even just to get a PTP you will need to go to the machine, involving the steps, and then go back to catch the train (the PTP has the station name, date and time printed on it.) This will be most awkward for some users.   The reliability of the machines is also questionable. A look at the Journey Check website will give a list of the machines out of action: at the time of writing,for example there 12 out of order on the network. Already, on other lines already applying the penalty, there have been cases of passengers from stations with defunct machines not being believed by the ticket staff at Piccadilly. 

You can, we understand, buy a ticket on-line beforehand and download it to your phone, but that sort of thing is not to everyone's taste.
24 February 2019

Strikes suspended

On 7 February the RMT union announced that they have suspended their strike action, after successful talks with the management and ACAS and an agreement to have a conductor on every train. Full details of the conductor's role are to be the subject of further discussions, to let's hope a satisfactory solution is arrived at. Some other companies now have the driver opening the doors and the conductor closing them - one possible solution, which also avoids the conductor being left behind on the platform, but we have no detail about what exactly is proposed.

It's noticeable that the RMT have used the term 'Guard' in all their pronouncements, although the official title has been 'conductor' for some years.
8 February 2019

Oakfield Road update

We have received the following message from Davenport and Cale Green councillor Dickie Davies:

Dear Residents,

Ward councillors have held meetings with council officers about traffic and related issues on Oakfield Road.

Firstly, concerning traffic calming matters, a set of plans have now been produced. These will be circulated to all residents on Oakfield, Elmfield and Beechfield roads in the very near future [update - now received]. Further you will be invited to a drop-in consultation event which will take place on 28th February.

Secondly, enforcement officers have promised to step up visits to Creative Apparel. This will include monitoring of loading/unloading and issuing of, where appropriate, tickets. The temporary planning consent for the containers is due to expire in June. So far no application has been made to extend the temporary application or to move the operation to another location. The situation will continue to be monitored.

We appreciate that residents have produced significant evidence of unacceptable loading activities at the site. However, enforcement officers have asked for details of peak times when loading and unloading talks place on the pavement. This is to target their visits to the unit.

Yours, Dickie Davies (cllr.dickie.davies@stockport.gov.uk)

7 January 2019

Jolly Sailor reopening confirmed

Some good news is that Almond Family Pubs have confirmed officially that they have taken on the 'Jolly Sailor' and will be refurbishing it, with an enlarged dining area at the rear and various other improvements, for re-opening in 'Spring 2019.' Here is a link to their announcement  and here's a link to their planning proposal which has been granted by the Council. Almond are known for their carvery style of operation, but they assure us that there will also be a choice of other meals, and also an area reserved for drinkers.

The building was built in 1895 for the Daniel Clifton brewery to replace a smaller pub, built in the traditional style in the 1790s; the image above dates to around 1902.

26 January 2019

                                Sunset over Edgeley reservoirs, January 2019

Another Year - Another Strike

As the Saturday strikes drag on into 2018, we do wonder whether when anyone is going to resolve this dispute. Northern now say they have again asked the RMT union for take part in an independent inquiry, while the RMT statements become increasingly aggressive:

RMT members across Northern Rail are standing rock solid and united again on this 45th ‎day of strike action as the company ploughs on regardless with its plans to throw guards off their trains and resorts to a barrage of complete misinformation aimed at the travelling public over their clear intention to introduce widespread driver only operation.

Some members, we suspect, welcome the relief from the anti-social behaviour sometimes seen on Saturday trains. The managers who are required to 'voluntarily' act as guards, on the other hand, must be running out of patience. Northern, for their part, repeat that the Department for Transport have agreed that every train will have a 'second person' on board to help and advise passengers, sell and check tickets and so on, while the driver, aided by cameras on the outside of the train, controls the opening and closing of the doors. This promise, which the RMT say is 'lies', is a softening of the original requirements of the Franchise which allowed for trains to run with just the driver if for any reason there is no second person available.

Of course, there are no cameras on the outside of our existing trains, and it's doubtful whether there can be, given the very small space for the necessary screen in the driving cab of some of them. The new trains which are soon to be entering traffic - class 195 diesels and class 331 electrics, do have this feature but can also be worked in the traditional way.   However, although they are promoted as replacing the unloved 'pacer' units, the diesel trains are unlikely to appear on the Buxton line soon, although it is possible that an electrified Hazel Grove - Blackpool service might appear in May 2019. Our feeling is that 'Driver Controlled Operation' on our line can not appear until the Class 150s,  built in the 1980s, are replaced by new trains after 2025.

The difference between the two sides in the dispute, apart from the doors, is - we understand - the amount of training and responsibility required to be a traditional guard, which includes the need to be familiar with the stations and other features of the line being worked. Like drivers, they 'sign a route' and cannot be used flexibly across any route. Guards also have training in 'safety critical' matters related to what to do in an accident, train failure, or similar situation. Passengers may need to be evacuated, and possibly action taken to prevent a collision should a train derail or worse. A broken-down train might need to be rescued by another. 

These are, of course, very rare events, and even more rarely does the driver become incapacitated, but it does happen. We are not offered any information by Northern about the role of the 'second person' in such cases; perhaps at least they will have an emergency phone number to call.

RMT with their frightening website videos make much of the other aspect of safety, the personal safety of the passengers during the journey.  However, in theory, the 'second person' freed from the need to work the doors will be a better position to reassure passengers. But, like the current guards, they are not going to be in any position to disarm a frenzied knife attacker or bomber. Many of our four-car trains don't even have a way for the guard to access the front two coaches while the train is moving.

At the root of all this is, of course, Government money. The franchise runs until 2025; currently the company receives around a quarter of a billion pounds per year to add to fares revenue. The franchise agreement requires that by 2025 this must be reduced to somewhere near £50 million, while running more train services. How is this possible? Partly by paying less money to the new 'second person' grade, and partly by needing fewer people because of the greater flexibility. But we have yet to discover how much money the drivers' union will demand for the extra responsibility transferred to their members.  The company directors say they are guaranteeing that the existing guards will retain their jobs and salary until the end of the franchise in 2025.

And we must bear in mind that local trains mean nothing a very large proportion of taxpayers.

RMT paints the owners of Northern, the German State Railway, as 'profiteers', but published figures suggest that, at best, they can hope to achieve a 2% profit margin. It's not surprising that the Government is finding it increasingly difficult to find operators of regional companies.

[The above is a personal view - any factual corrections are welcome.]
22 January 2019