Line News & Events

  • Beyond Ellesmere Port

    3rd June 2024

    A long-term vision for a ‘metro’ styled service around the Mersey Basin …

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  • Summer 2023 Newsletter

    The North Cheshire Rail Users Group have published their Summer  Newsletter ....

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  • Halton Curve Campaign

    29th February 2020

    The North Cheshire Rail Users Group was last night officially recognised for 30 years hard work ....

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  • Frodsham Footbridge Project

    8th December 2019

    A temporary scaffold footbridge will now NOT be provided at Frodsham ....

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  • Castle Park Semaphore Signal Unveiling

    1st June 2019

    30 years of campaigning officially came to an end today on Saturday 1st June as two semaphore signals were unveiled in Castle Park .....

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  • The Halton Curve

    19th May 2019

    The Halton curve finally opened on 19th May 2019 ....

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* 1 NCRUG publishes local timetables and other information. It distributes ATW's timetables to local public libraries and issues the timetables at local stations. 

* 2 NCRUG is pleased that after years of campaigning the re-development of Frodsham Station is nearly complete with the station buildings overhauled and a successful hairdressing business flourishing.  We hope that tenants will soon be found for the remaining unit available following the failure of the business who had been in occupation. Grants have been obtained from Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP) and the Railway Heritage Trust; consequently the original heritage fencing has been replicated  and even a new section installed to complete the fence line adjacent to the Car Park and previously award winning garden. Ticket Machines have been installed and the Customer Information System (CIS) updated; cycle stands have been installed. We would like to see the current waiting shelters improved  by larger and or modern amenities; we continue to make representations  with regard to this aim. Meanwhile the gardens continue to receive our attention in the spring of 2015.

* 3 In 1997 NCRUG took on responsibility for the station gardens at Helsby. In 1999 the station was short listed in two of the finals categories for the Railtrack "Station of the Year Competition", but in 2000 won the "Most Passenger Friendly Unstaffed Station" award. Then in 2003 the station won the "Best Kept Station in Cheshire" Award. In 2001 a group from NCRUG started similar work at Frodsham station. In 2002, the town of Frodsham was entered in the "Northwest in Bloom" contest organised by the Tidy Britain Group. As part of this NCRUG planted over 1500 geraniums on Frodsham station, and the town won first prize in the "Small Market Town" category, and NCRUG was specially commended. Then, not to be outdone, in 2002 a group started work at Runcorn East. For further details, see below in section 7.

* 4 NCRUG has consistently won prizes in the Best Kept Cheshire stations competition, at both Helsby, Frodsham and Runcorn East and so has featured in Cheshire Life magazine.  Click here for awards we have won.

* 5 NCRUG made comments to Railtrack/ Network Rail Property (Spacia) about the situation with the Grade II listed buildings at Helsby, which were not covered by the Railtrack Station Regeneration Programme in 1999. NCRUG maintained a contact with Railtrack NW Zone about the Station Regeneration Programme, the completion of the main part coincided with NCRUG's Open Day at Helsby. Comments were fed back to Railtrack, and as a result the area of platforms 2/3 to be resurfaced with new paving was extended to the whole platform area. In April 2001 the Railway Heritage Trust came to both Helsby and Frodsham to discuss with Spacia the possibility of grants for improvements to the buildings. As a consequence in August 2001 the chimney at the south end of the building on platforms 2/3 was repaired, and then in late 2002 both the signalbox and the old waiting room on the island platform were refurbished with support of grants from the Railway Heritage Trust. This project won a prize for railway restoration projects, and work has continued since to improve the situation.

* 6 NCRUG over a long period pressed Railtrack to bring platform 1 at Helsby "within gauge". It is more than half a metre below the train steps, and accidents have happened in the past with people falling. As a result Helsby was one of 116 stations surveyed by Raltrack in order to assist in developing its future policy on improvements to station platforms. We were told that Railtrack would carry out remedial work in 2002/3, but with the demise of Railtrack, nothing came of it, but we continue to press for improvement.

We were delighted when in April 2014, the work to raise the platform was undertaken under the National Station Improvement programme having been put forward by ATW, although not the full length but about 30 yards persons of reduced mobility can now board and leave the train without difficulty; conductors on the train advise passengers where to disembark before Helsby is reached.

* 7 Historically we have also discussed the matter of the car park at Helsby which is frequently full. In June 2000, Railtrack stated that work would be carried out during the current financial year. Unfortunately First North Western were only prepared to pay their part of the costs by introducing a parking charge scheme administered by contractors, with all that that would entail, e.g. wheel clamping. NCRUG said that this would aggravate the situation rather than improve it. 

Parking continues to be a problem today,  even though NETWORK RAIL & Arriva Trains Wales (ATW) are now responsible; the car park has been marked out, and it would appear that an efficient plan was chosen; the station building  tenants now require reserved parking and motorists now also park on the grass which is consequently churned up; we continued to make representations with Cheshire West & Cheshire Council (CWaC), Helsby Parish Council and ATW to have the car park area increased in size in 2014 however CWaC have undertaken a survey of rail parking requirements across their area of responsibility in 2016 and funding remains the issue in October 2016.

* 8 As part of NCRUG's proposals for improvements to the facilities at Frodsham and Helsby stations, we proposed that the awning should be re-installed on Platform 1 at Helsby to provide a shelter.  The proposal was to be jointly funded by Railtrack out of their matched funding budget, Helsby Parish Council and Cheshire County Council. After an initial completion date of September 1998 as part of Railtrack's SRP programme, the awning (canopy) was eventually completed on 3 February 1999.

Further enhancement took place in 2013 when Northern provided a shelter on Platform 4 from which three trains depart for Ellesmere Port and two for Warrington..

* 9 On 26 September 1998, NCRUG (in association with North Western Trains) held an Open Day at Helsby station. Over 500 people came: Many local people coming to the station for the first time in years. Many were surprised at the train services on offer.  

*10  During the Autumn of 2014; NCRUG became aware that with the introduction of the new locomotive hauled train services on the Manchester/Crewe to Holyhead/Llandudno route that the stopping patterns were to be altered. This would result in a gap of two hours in morning  Chester bound services; while this complied with the franchise obligations it did not fulfil the promises that Arriva Trains Wales (ATW) had made regarding a clock face timetable for services between Manchester and Chester; which ATW had marketed over a number of years in their franchise.

The Group took this matter up with ATW at the highest level and also made representations though elected representatives; the proposed service was consequently altered so as to remain hourly and a reduction in stops made elsewhere to compensate; in such a manner that stations along the route all received appropriate service levels in line with those promised by ATW historically.

NCRUG was gratified that ATW were able to accommodate our concerns while improving the seats provided in the peak travel hours, from December 2014;  and thus reduce overcrowding on the Chester to Manchester route. The locomotive hauled train has thus provided an improved environment and more capacity into 2016/17.

*11 In 2004, the Strategic Rail Authority announced that it intended to close "Halton Curve".  The NCRUG mounted opposition to the plan which was subsequently postponed. The current "Parliamentary Service" being retained - reopening is now likely in the short to medium term

*12 It is interesting to note that in the December 2004 issue of the Railway Magazine the expected cost of reinstatement of the Halton Curve was estimated at £3m and now, in 2016, it is nearer £20m!

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