SCORES of Wigan students face being “stranded” by the new railway timetable.
For decades teenagers from the east of the borough have caught the train to get to their A-level and B-Tec studies at Winstanley College.
But signals have now turned red for danger after it was revealed that the Atherton to Wallgate Station train and the following Wallgate to Orrell train (for the Winstanley Road based college) will no longer connect. Under the new timetable set to be introduced on May 18, which reveals Northern Rail’s new services, students will now face a long wait between services.
And it will leave them unable to reach college by train for the start of the educational day.
Now a councillor is demanding talks with the train operator in an attempt to have the service joined up again before the new time table is introduced.
Wigan Independent Network’s Norman Bradbury said that it was “outrageous” that the train operator was about to leave the students “high and dry.”
More than 60 students are affected. College Principal Louise Tipping said: “We are delighted that Coun Bradbury is representing the interests of Winstanley College Students. This train proposal, as it currently stands, will seriously affect the education of a significant number of our students. We are dismayed at Northern Rail’s lack of consultation.”
Coun Bradbury said: “The new timetable will leave students who attend Winstanley College without a rail service to get them there in time for the start of their lectures.
“At the present time the 7.26am and 8.03am trains from Atherton both provide a direct link to Orrell for Winstanley College.
“But under the new timetable these services have now been re-scheduled and the 7.26am trains will now departs from Atherton at 7.33am.
“This means that by the time it gets to Wigan Wallgate, students will miss the connection for the train to Orrell by at least four minutes.
“While the 8.31am departure from Atherton has been put back to 8.38am which means it gets to Orrell too late for the start of College.
“Northern Rail claim that these changes have been caused by the impact of the introduction of a new through express service from Liverpool to Newcastle.
“The train company are saying that they have to make the best use of the fixed diesel train resources to deliver a peak train service, which retains as many of the current journey opportunities as possible.
“But I want to know when will Northern Rail realise that passengers are their bread and butter.
“At the very least they should consult with them before making these bizarre alterations to timetables and they should give passengers an adequate warning period.”
A spokesman for Northern said that it was considering Coun Bradbury’s complaints on behalf of student passengers travelling to the college via Orrell Station.