Local rail issues – keeping up to speed

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The franchise on Stone’s rail service, currently operated by London Midland, is up for renewal in 2017 and North Staffs Rail Promotion Group are being consulted by the franchise team who are writing the new service specification, writes Chair Jon Heal.

“Firstly, we are asking for more stops at Stone during peak hours and the evening,” he told the Gazette. “At peak times, London Midland run some trains twice the normal length which are not yet allowed to stop at Stone. This is because they leave London very full and the extra carriages are needed up to Milton Keynes and Rugby. However the longer trains do not stop at Stone, because the platform is too short. However, now that the footpath at the end of the platform is closed, it would be possible for Network Rail to give permission. Obviously, only the carriage doors by the platform would be opened, so alighting passengers would have to move down the train.”

Besides calling for a more frequent service linking to Manchester Airport, NSRPG are also pressing for the re-opening of Barlaston station.

“Stone MP Sir Bill Cash has offered to raise this in Parliament, and we are collecting signatures for a petition he suggested we get up in support,” Jon continued. “A major argument for Barlaston’s re-instatement is the success of Stone station since the new service began in December 2008.”

Jon started collecting signatures at the 5th September Barlaston Vilage Show, where many people told him it would make their travel much easier if they had a local train station with trains to use.

NSPRG is encouraging people to send in their views to the public consultation on Stone’s rail service which will take place during the winter months.

“After the Norton Bridge improvements we hope to get a much improved local service as there will be space for an extra service through Stone,” John explained. “We are asking whether the Stone service would continue to be the route to Euston or whether there would be a stopping service on the line between Birmingham and Manchester. If so, this train is more likely to stop at Barlaston.”

The petition closing date is early November. Copies of the petition are available from NSRPG through Jon Heal at jhnorthstaffsrail@hotmail.co.uk or 01785 811094 or Rob McMillan rwandg.mcmillan@btinternet.com