Tell me about commuting by train into Manchester

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  • Tell me about commuting by train into Manchester
  • Premier Icon djflexure
    Subscriber

    Looks like I will be looking at a job in Manchester next week. Lived in Didsbury 20 years ago so although I know some of the places the infrastructure has changed. We have family north of Bolton too. Always dreamed of having good riding/ walking from my doorstep (or even close by). Also have teenage kids to consider. Where might we start looking if we wanted something a bit further out? North or south – happy to look either way. A commute 30 mins or so by train into Piccadilly would be fine. If I go by car I can set off 6:30 to try and beat the traffic.

    Premier Icon binners
    Subscriber

    Worth watching last weeks Dispatches documentary about HS2. It’s about the railways generally and reveals the true horror of commuting by rail into Manchester. I’d say it was like a third world transport network but it’s far far worse than that

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    https://tfgm.com/public-transport/tram/network-map

    Don’t rule out the other stations, tram puts Deansgate and Victoria into play quite easily, where in the city do you need to get to?

    The main problem you will have is everyone else who has had the idea to commute in by train!!

    Premier Icon xherbivorex
    Subscriber

    yup, i live in horwich (rivington pike/winter hill) and work in manchester city centre. train is supposed to take about 30 mins, but i’ve been driving in for the past year or so as it got to the point with northern rail where if trains actually showed up, they were almost always late and short-formed. it’s not got much better yet from what i can see either! the riding’s ace from the door here though, until some tosser sets the moors alight all summer!

    Premier Icon fingerbang
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    I’m from Stockport although live in Lancashire now. Anyhow, if it was me I’d think about Charlesworth/Glossop and perhaps get train from broadbottom which is about 30mins to Piccadilly I think

    Premier Icon chakaping
    Subscriber

    I get the train in a few times a week. It’s actually not that bad if you can cope with the odd short train and vintage Pacer rolling stock.

    I get to sit down both ways and the trains are usually on time.

    Driving in would be infinitely worse for me. Shane it’s a bit too far to ride really.

    Premier Icon binners
    Subscriber

    I live in Ramsbottom which we absolutely love! Fantastic riding straight out of the door and just a bloody brilliant place to live.

    I was working in Manchester City Centre last year and we have an Express bus service now, utilising the bus lanes into manchester and it’s great. I can also ride into Bury, lock my bike up in the Cycle Hub and jump on the Metrolonk into Victoria

    Premier Icon slowoldman
    Subscriber

    I get the train in from Cheadle Hulme every day. Yes now and then it’s late, or cancelled. In general though it works OK. Many, many moons ago I used to drive in. I wouldn’t dream of it now.

    “The Valley” as binners says is a great area.

    fossy
    Member

    They are generally ‘shite’. I live 9 miles out, and drive in (used to bike it until my spine got broke) – I go in early 3 days a week with my wife(in office just after 7am) and a bit later. I often get the train if out after work. Standing room only usually, crammed in like sardines on knackered old Pacer trains. You’ll pay north of £1k PA for the privilege.

    Look for somewhere on the tram route – it’s better and more reliable.

    The last train home is OK – only 20 minutes 🙂

    The Marple/New Mills lines are rammed.

    Rich_s
    Member

    I have to work sometimes in Manc city centre and I hate going there with a capital F.
    I’ve tried going by rail and it’s incredibly poor – short, knackered trains that are always late, don’t show up and are rammed Indian-style when they do.
    Tram park n ride ain’t great either, but marginally better than train (tried a couple of car parks, they were both the same).
    Driving in can be 2hrs+ but has been 1.10 in summer hols or 3.00 in miserable November weather.
    Amuses me no end when I’m working in the South East and they bleat about their 12 coach train being 3 mins late or having to wait 10 mins for the next one 😉
    I hate it. Good luck.

    Premier Icon funkmasterp
    Subscriber

    It’s not too bad from Macclesfield. Knackered old trains and standing room only. The trains are frequent, rarely late and get to Piccadilly in about half an hour depending on the route. Decent riding nearby too.

    Premier Icon BadlyWiredDog
    Subscriber

    I like Glossop. Pretty good 30-minute train service into Manchester. PDNP starts on the edge of town. Decent shops, restaurants, cafes, pubs etc. Friendly people. Good bike shop. Terrible traffic if you need to drive into Manchester, but fine heading out the other way across the Peak.

    It’s changed markedly over the past ten years or so, influx of people working at Media City, the university etc. Has gentrification markers like an M&S Simply Food, Pizza Express, Costa, plus a whopping great Tesco.

    Northern Rail has a well-earned reputation for extreme awfulness.

    sarawak
    Member

    Avoid any train route that involves Northern Rail. Totally serious comment. Avoid them like the plague.
    They have no idea how to run a railway. One line near here has had over 75% of its services cancelled in the lsat year. No warning. They just don’t turn up. And they won’t tell you when the neXt one will turn up.

    Premier Icon twistedpencil
    Subscriber

    Northern Rail by neverarriva…

    Awful. Last year the trains were a disgrace. This year I’ve done about 700km commuting on the bike so I’m much fitter.  Thanks Northern :-).

    Edge of the peaks would be my choice at the moment. Marple Bridge, Glossop maybe. Driving from both these places though would be a massive no though 🙁 .

    Currently live Stockport way on the airport line.

    North of the city looks good however I might end up in Hebden if the missus gets her way…

    Premier Icon windydave13
    Subscriber

    Another +1 for Macclesfield. Train is a little over 30mins. I sometimes take the first of the day and it’s empty. Cycling to Salford quays is about 1hr 20 and a good mix of routes available

    Premier Icon djflexure
    Subscriber

    Oh 5h1t – worse than expected. Live south of Bham now and trains are great for getting about. Will look into Glossop and try to work out where Northern Rail serves.

    Premier Icon binners
    Subscriber

    Having worked in Manchester last year with people reliant on Northern Rail, they really are a testament to our present transport secretary Chris ‘Failing’ Grayling.

    People would regularly arrive two hours late with tales of 3 or 4 trains cancelled, one after another. Their ‘service’ is scandalously terrible

    The metrolink is great though. And don’t discount the bus services. The direct bus from Rammy took me under an hour, Dior to door, to get from the hills into the office. The plan is to build more of these traffic-free bus corridors like Oxford Road. The ‘bus’ I was getting every day was like a coach, with USB charger points for your phone and decent WiFi. Grab a coffee before you get on and the journey into work was very civilised

    fossy
    Member

    PS I love going out in Manchester after work – me and my wife work there (I’m out near Hulme) but we factor in the pain of public transport for a meal out and fab pubs etc. The architecture is amazing too, if you look about. Loads of great places to eat – at least the last train back is reliable.

    Tonnes to see and do outside work.

    Oh and we have Dirt Factory opening shortly at Mayfield, right next to Piccadilly Station – I’ll be going (indoor bike park).

    Premier Icon djflexure
    Subscriber

    Relatives are in Edgerton so familiar with the Rake, steam trains and black peas
    Will look at buses too then

    Premier Icon djflexure
    Subscriber

    Where would you live that’s served by Metrolink?
    Altringham, Sale??

    Premier Icon binners
    Subscriber

    I’d look north rather than sale or Alty. There’s no decent riding to be had round there

    I live at the bottom of the Rake (so I have to ride up the bloody thing at the start of every ride). Bus service is great from Rammy now. Once you’re on, it doesn’t stop until you get into Manchester. 45 minutes at peak time, 35 off peak, buses are every half an hour

    You can get a bus into Bury, or ride in (the Cycle Hub is secure for your bike with swipe card entry) then jump on the Metro.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    Is the job permanent? Can you do a 6 month rental and suss it out?

    Failing that how about buy a narrow boat and power through our inland waterways 😉

    Premier Icon crazy-legs
    Subscriber

    I worked in Manchester for 9 years – used to commute in by train, bike or car (sometimes train & bike) and the train was universally shite. I’m on the Marple / New Mills / Sheffield line.

    Incredibly expensive, almost always late and short-formed. There were many occasions where I was simply unable to board the train home in an evening and would have to wait for the next one as it was too crowded. Mornings weren’t too bad as I was always on early enough but it would often get to Reddish way and be too full for any more passengers, it would simply leave people on the platforms.

    The ticketing is a joke too – buy from a ticket office (if you can find a station that has one, is open and doesn’t have a queue a mile long in the morning), or from a machince (if you can find a working one) or from the on-board conductor (if the train is actually empty enough for the conductor to move up and down it freely). If all of those options fail then you have to queue up in Manchester to buy one on arrival or you can of course be given a penalty fare.

    I mean, I know people complain about London services but every time I’m in London and I can tap an Oyster card and an 8-carriage train turns up once every 15 minutes – that to me is luxury! I’m so glad I don’t have to commute by Northern Fail anymore.

    (The services from Glossop and Buxton are marginally better, it’s the Sheffield line into Piccadilly that’s the worst by a long way).

    nickhit3
    Member

    I’m afraid I can’t add any positivity either here. 3 years commuting from Preston to Manchester. It cost me £350 a month then in 2015, and it became the reason I left a job I really liked. The line from the north is horrendous. Frequent bus replacements. I was almost always late for work and NEVER home on time and maybe has a seat either way 50/60% of the time. Friday nights were the worst with the traffic heading north to Edinburgh from the airport. Standing all the way crushed into the doors of the empty 1st class carriages. Absolutely unrelenting utterly utterly utterly utterly god forsaken hellish experience. Northern, First Trans all appalling. First only just squeaking into top spot because their heaters would be jammed on, compared to Northern who’s rolling stock didn’t have them.

    You will regret this decision and you will hate your commute. Sorry but that is unfortunately the reality.

    Premier Icon binners
    Subscriber

    If in doubt about what anyone’s saying then watch that Dispatches HS2 documentary I linked. Shows the scandal of the 1970’s train service we’re subjected to in the north while the government spaffs up to a hundred billion on HS2 while not planning to spend anything on the knackered infrastructure up here. Same old, same old.

    We’d be really really ****ing angry about it, but we have been for 30 years and it’s just got progressively worse, so we’re just resigned to the fact that the government couldn’t give a Flying **** about us

    Northern powerhouse? Don’t make me laugh!

    Everyone knows what the reality of Northern Rail travel looks like…

    Would I depend on a rail service in the north to get me to work and back? Not a ****ing chance!

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    Would I depend on a rail service in the north to get me to work and back? Not a ****ing chance!

    Other rail services do exist in the north Binners, Virgin got me to Leighton Buzzard and back really well today, TP get me up to the NE and NW (as do virgin) and XC come through here so it’s not all bad. Yes Northern are shit but they are not the only game in town.

    When I’ve had to use them it’s worked for me, the strikes are now cancelled and the new trains on their way complete with cheery miserable guard especially if he has to get the ramps out.

    Premier Icon chakaping
    Subscriber

    I must have been lucky in the couple of months I’ve been getting the train, it’s way better than rush hour commuting in London was.

    £30 a week from edge of greater Manchester, fairly frequent trains and a nice walk from Salford Central into the city centre.

    Only had one train cancelled and a couple late so far.

    I’d say find out for yourself rather than take the horror stories at face value.

    dirk_pumpa
    Member

    Ebike ftw.

    I used to love that marple line but only after 7pm when it was dead getting to and from marple for night rides. Working hours its a straight no.

    Premier Icon ourmaninthenorth
    Subscriber

    I’ve just started a train commute to central Manchester on the infamously unreliable Southport line.

    Given everyone’s experiences, I regard one cancelled train (suicide) in two weeks a blessed relief..!

    The Pacers are pretty dire, though I get a seat. Oh and they’re all due to be replaced this year (according to Northern Rail propaganda).

    My commute is 1:20 door to door, which includes the drive to the station and a 15 minute walk to the office. I could take s later train and shortern it by 10 mins by travelling to a station closer to the office but I rather enjoy the fresh air each end of the day.

    Always get a seat on the way in and it varies on the way home. But I don’t mind standing – I had worse in London….

    ETA: haven’t sorted a season ticket yet, but even paying daily (station I travel from is just inside Greater Manchester) it’s only £11 a day. With free parking and 10 mins drive, it’s no more expensive than a tank (or more) of fuel a week commuting to my last job in Liverpool. And an annual season ticket will roughly half that cost….

    Ah, I drive a lot of you to work then!
    I used to live in Stockport and the commute was brilliant. 14 trains an hour from Stockport to piccadilly, Offerton is a decent up and coming area, close to Peak District too and Marple Roman Lakes.
    Glossop/hadfield line has the best service for northern, 3/4 trains an hour from very early to very late and the best trains too, new ones coming soon too.

    sarawak
    Member

    CrossRail, Thames Link, that big new sewer, HS2, Oxford – Cambridge line. Spot a trend? All massive, massive infrastructure projects way over time and budget and all serving Lunnun.
    We would like £500,000 to renew some signalling to re-open a much needed commuter link but there is no money.
    Our trains are 45 year old Pacers; they are bus bodies on a cattle wagon chassis. And they are as uncomfortable as it sounds. We were given them 30 years ago when – at 15 years of age – they were considered past their useful life for the aforementioned Lunnuners.

    Welcome to the Northern Poorhouse.

    It’s a bit clunky but for facts on reliability if you want to check particular lines this is quite good. Recent train times.

    https://www.recenttraintimes.co.uk

    I’m a New Mills commuter. On paper it’s less than 30 minutes into Piccadilly (from New Mills Central – New Mills Newtown is also available but takes longer) and the journey into town is reasonably reliable although you do learn to avoid some of the services to avoid the major overcrowding. There is a tendency to put on two carriage trains in rush hour which is carnage. The real problems seem, to me, to lie on the return journey. I’ve caught the train to work approximately twice this year as the stress of the evening journey got to me and I decided to make more of an effort to avoid it. I’ve started cycling in more often (trying for three times a week) and driving in once a week (something I feel bad about doing), and working from home one day a week, all to avoid the trains. The Northern Resist facebook page has nearly 4000 members, and if you join that I’m sure people will be happy to talk about which lines into Manchester do actually work.

    Northern do tell us, often, that they are working on improvements, refurbishments, more trains but they do seem to have been telling us that for years and the timings of the upgrades do keep getting put back.

    globalti
    Member

    Seconded (or thirded or whatever) the warnings about Northern Fail, they are simply crap.

    I drive from Blackburn to Bury every day and I have discovered that the traffic is the same ballache whether I leave home at 07:00 or 08:00, there doesn’t seem to be any particular peak because so many people leave early. During school holidays it’s much much easier.

    you’re right about new mills, a double unit is busy but like was said earlier they’re old tired units that go wrong. Investment has been needed for a long long time, at the start of this franchise northern employed a record amount of drivers to run more services, but it takes about 2 years to train a driver so it’s only been in the last 6 months we’re fully ready.
    The thing Northern didn’t do was make the pay structure the same as other TOCs so a qualified driver can go to TPE and get an instant big pay rise.
    Don’t join the FB group, about 90% of the things people whinge about on there are out of northerns hands.
    Northern isn’t a perfect company, but it’s nowhere near as bad as people make out.
    There’s brand spanking new trains on the way, trainings already started on them. They may not all go on the new mills or rose hill lines, but just the extra stock will help.

    Premier Icon BadlyWiredDog
    Subscriber

    I’d say find out for yourself rather than take the horror stories at face value.

    Yeah, I’d agree with that. As per jonny’s post above, it’s variable. I used to live in Glossop and never really had an issue with the rail service there – not a commuter, but used it occasionally, rarely had a problem – now in New Mills and it’s a different story. Both are run by Northern Rail, one seems reliable and has modern rolling stock etc, the other is like something out of Heartbeat, but without the rosy glow of nostalgia. I’ve probably sat in the same train carriage as the one I used decades ago getting to the start of the Pennine Way in Edale as a sixth former. I wouldn’t move to New Mills / Marple unless you’re prepared to live with a predictably sub-standard service most of the time.

    Premier Icon Jon Taylor
    Subscriber

    I have rellies who live in Marple area and having moved up from London and then Cambridge they find the trains frustratingly unreliable.

    Premier Icon chakaping
    Subscriber

    Well I get on at Wigan, where there are two adjacent stations and about four to six trains an hour – with services to Salford Central generally being quicker and more frequent (it’s about the same walk to my office from there as it is from Piccadilly).
    Some of the services start at Wigan, so a seat is pretty much guaranteed and it takes 30-45mins to get into town depending whether I get the fast/medium/slow service.
    The Pacer trains turn up about one-third of the time, usually a newer, more comfy one though.
    You may not want to live in Wigan of course (I don’t exactly), but if a decent train service is your priority this may be useful info for you.

    Premier Icon benp1
    Subscriber

    Could you pick a place that you could cycle commute instead? normal bike or ebike

    Alternatively, could you use a scooter/motorbike?

    wind-bag
    Member

    May shock you that I say it, but the service from South of Manchester is far better than from the areas to the North/West/East of the city. Crewe offers a fast and efficient service, the riding may not be on your doorstep, but the Peaks and North Wales are not that far off. And, for Cheshire, affordable to live.

    sharkey
    Member

    I’d agree no riding from the door South Manchester but Sale/Alty is cycleable into town – I do it 3 days a week its about 8 miles/35 minutes (to near the uni anyway) half of it on the canal tow path. Tram works well most of the time too. Its a drive to the hills but Hope valley is an hour away, New Mills/ Goyt Valley about 40 min and North Wales a bit more than an hour

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