This page gives details of the number of people using Walkden station.
Rail passenger numbers have grown dramatically across the country in recent years, and regular passengers from Walkden will be familiar with the rocketing demand experienced here - and the over-crowding that results.
To quantify how services from Walkden are being used and how demand is changing over time, each November FOWS volunteers conduct a count of passengers boarding and alighting each train from the first train of the day (the 06.29 to Manchester) until 1.30pm. GMPTE have also kindly shared the results of their annual passenger counts on stations in the Greater Manchester area, which enables us to make comparisons with other stations. Both the FOWS and GMPTE surveys are conducted on weekday mornings in November.
The 2012 Passenger Count was held on Thursday 8th November, two weeks earlier than in previous years. For the first time since our surveys began in 2007 the figures revealed a fall of 7% in the number of people using the station.
Looking at the breakdown for this year's figures, it appears the additional coaches introduced to peak services in December 2011 have helped keep numbers high despite the continued economic depression. Off-peak services saw a 12.5% drop which we believe may be explained by the survey taking place earlier in November and therefore picking up less Christmas shopping traffic.
The graph (left) shows 4 years of growth preceding 2012's small decline.
The graphs below give a train-by-train picture of the passenger volumes at Walkden.
For full details of passenger numbers for each train, please see our 2012 passenger count results.
The 2011 Passenger Count was held on Thursday 24th November and yet again revealed a remarkable increase in the number of people using the station. This year the increase was just over 20% - a quite incredible rise against a backdrop of economic stagnation, job losses, and above-inflation fare rises.
The rise since FOWS' first passenger count in 2007 is an amazing 66%. During this time one extra rush-hour train has been added - the majority of the extra passengers having squeezed on to increasingly over-crowded services.
Looking at the breakdown for this year's figures, it appears peak service have reached saturation point: pre-peak and off-peak services have seen passenger growth of 54% and 83% respectively - while peak numbers dropped very slightly by 2%. We believe this is explained by commuters being forced to make their journeys earlier or later to avoid the most over-crowded services.
The graph (left) shows the pre-peak, peak, and off-peak passengers for the last 5 years of FOWS surveys, and this year's explosion in non-peak travel is plainly visible.
The graphs below give a train-by-train picture of the passenger volumes at Walkden.
For full details of passenger numbers for each train, please see our 2011 passenger count results.
The 2010 Passenger Count on Thursday 11th November was quite the most eventful yet after a night of wet and windy weather deposited piles of slippery leaves on the track. From the first train of the day until 10am nearly every train was delayed by 20-30 minutes and a couple did not even stop at Walkden. From 07.50 to 08.30 there were no departures toward Manchester and the platform was packed with waiting passengers.
Then, to add to the mounting confusion for our volunteer counter, a pair of drunks arrived at the station and became abusive with passengers and staff, eventually punching a waiting commuter. At this point our volunteer abandoned counting to assist the victim and call the Transport Police.
As a result we have only rough estimates for the two busiest departures of the morning which makes it difficult to draw any confident conclusions from the count. Overall we found passenger numbers 13% up on last year (including the estimated figures). If we apply a "caution factor" of 25% to the estimated figures, we still find overall patronage very slightly up on 2009, which our friends at Northern Rail have confirmed matches their passenger statistics.
One feature of the graphs below that stands out immediately is the inbound peak is much more pronounced than in previous years. This can be explained by the fact that the trains were running late and therefore the two trains scheduled at 07.59 and 08.18 actually picked up all the passengers who arrived at the station between 07.50 and 09.00 - a period normally served by four trains.
Off-peak numbers are 30% lower than 2009: we believe this is almost certainly due to the unpleasant weather and late-running trains which probably acted as deterents to the leisure and non-essential travel that forms a higher proportion of off-peak traffic.
For full details of passenger numbers for each train, please see our 2010 passenger count results.
The FOWS Passenger Count of 2009 took place on the morning of Thursday 12th November and revealed passenger numbers still on the increase despite this year's economic downturn.
As ever, our figures only present a snapshot from one particular morning, but by picking a Thursday morning in early November we try to keep the basis for year-on-year comparisons as even as possible.
The key results from this year's survey were:
The most glaring anomaly on the charts below is the dip in numbers boarding the 0818 toward Manchester. This train was too full to accept all passengers, but even if the 20 people who were denied boarding had been accommodated it would still have taken less passengers than those trains immediately before and after it. We suspect this indicates passengers are avoiding this particular service because their chances of being denied boarding are too high to make it a reliable option. At this time of the morning we really need all trains to be at least 4 carriages long, but unfortunately there is more capacity heading out of Manchester (toward Wigan) than in where it is most needed.
FOWS believe that for passenger numbers to have continued growing, albeit at a slower rate, after a year of economic recession is compelling evidence of the potential demand for rail services from Walkden.
Undoubtedly Northern Rail's achievements in improving punctuality and reliability have been a key factor in Walkden's continued boom, something for which they deserve great credit. However, the fact that commuters are regularly being crammed into hopelessly over-crowded trains, or failing to board at all, demonstrates how much more capacity is needed on this service.
For full details of passenger numbers for each train, please see our 2009 passenger count results.
The FOWS Passenger Count of 2008 took place on the morning of Thursday 20th November (the closest Thursday to the anniversary of last year's survey).
Total passenger numbers for the survey session - boarding or alighting, on Manchester or Wigan bound trains - showed a massive 19% increase over last year. During the morning peak the growth was even more dramatic - up a staggering 23% between 0730 and 0930. Although our survey can only offer a "snapshot" of passenger demand, the news of more year-on-year increases will be no surprise to regular passengers.
Of course, the vast majority of morning travel to/from Walkden is commuter traffic to Manchester. This year's figure of 227 people boarding Manchester-bound trains in the morning peak means that this traffic has more than doubled in just 4 years.
Thanks in part to the additional 0818 service (the Atherton express that now calls at Walkden on a regular "exceptional" basis), only one passenger was unable to board during the morning, but with an incredible 100 people squeezing on to the already full 0801 the levels of discomfort can easily be imagined. Regular passengers will know that services are even more crowded earlier in the week.
The mix of trains in use showed a slight increase in capacity and comfort over last year's survey, with the most common type of
train being the medium-sized class 150 (45% of services). Longer-bodied class 156's made up 24% of services, with the unpopular
class 142 "bone-shakers" down to 31% of services from over 50% last year. On the other hand, the number of 4-carriage trains
dropped from 2 last year to just one this time (the 0818 Atherton express).
The FOWS Passenger Count of 2007 took place on a cold Thursday morning, the 22nd November. Passenger numbers were relatively light on the day, possibly due to the fact that dozens of commuters had been unable to board over-crowded trains the day before. On the day of the survey many trains were full to capacity but no passengers were unable to board.
Of 22 trains, just over half (12) were formed by the unpopular "Pacer" class 142 trains. 6 trains were formed from slightly larger class 150 units, and just 4 were the longer-bodied class 156 units. All but two trains comprised of just two carriages.
The two charts below show the number of passengers boarding and alighting from each train during the survey hours
of 06.29 to 13.30. Unsurprisingly services toward Manchester were far busier than toward Wigan in the morning, and
the rush hour peak can clearly be seen with 72 passengers managing to squeeze aboard the two carriages of the 0801
which was already carrying dozens of standing passengers when it arrived at Walkden.
This chart compares passenger numbers from GMPTE's surveys over the past 17 years.
It can be seen that passenger numbers have grown markedly in recent years at virtually all stations.
In terms of comparison with other stations on the line, Walkden is second only to Atherton and - very narrowly - Daisy Hill.
Walkden is clearly busier than Hindley, Hag Fold, Moorside and Swinton.