COMMUTERS in Birchwood are dismayed at the state of the town's railway links to the rest of Warrington and further afield.

Birchwood Station opened in 1981, and has provided the area with links to nearby cities such as Manchester and Liverpool ever since.

However, commuters are lamented the ever-reducing services running through the station, with many instead favouring services from Newton-le-Willows or other stations so as to avoid risking the 'unreliable' trips through Birchwood.

Warrington Guardian: The station has remained largely unchanged, as this image from the 1990s showsThe station has remained largely unchanged, as this image from the 1990s shows (Image: Ben Brooksbank)

Now, as the Government announces it will take control of TransPennine Express following a decline in the operator's standards, many in Birchwood are left wondering where this leaves them.

As it stands, the Government says that it does not want to disrupt timetables during the process of nationalising TransPennine Express, but with recent railways upheavals due to industrial action, disruption is to be expected.

Many Birchwood residents are at their wit's end with the infrequency of services running through and - more importantly - stopping at the two-platformed station.

One commuter, Austin Dale, said: "I just don’t bother using trains anymore.

"[They are] unreliable - I got a railcard but wasted my money.

"[They] used to be brilliant getting to Leeds, York, Scarborough etc., it now cannot be used with confidence.

"Changing trains etc adds to the risk of cancellation."

Warrington Guardian: The station was built in 1981The station was built in 1981 (Image: Newsquest)

Another, Michelle Lowe, said: "Unreliable and overpriced, as much as I would love to do my bit to reduce emissions public transport in this country is rubbish."

Robert Wood used to be a frequent user of Birchwood Station, but no longer: "When I first started working for my current employer I used to get the train from Birchwood to Heald Green in Stockport. This was 9 years ago and the service then was bad enough.

"The trains [were] packed like sardines in a can, numerous delays and cancellations plus an annual season ticket so expensive it was cheaper to drive! 

"One-way used to take anywhere from an hour to 90 mins as there was, and still isn't, a direct train from Liverpool Lime Street to Manchester Airport via Warrington Central and Birchwood, even though the tracks are already in place to allow such a route."

One of the problems some commuters face when using Birchwood Station is full trains being unable to perform their scheduled stops.

Warrington Guardian: The station has been forced to shut in recent months when there have been bouts of industrial actionThe station has been forced to shut in recent months when there have been bouts of industrial action (Image: Newsquest)

Jen Argent said: "They frequently cancel the fast trains into Manchester from Birchwood because they haven’t put enough carriages on or it’s running late at rush hour times so it's really unreliable for commuters."

Ken Briony says that it can be easier heading to other stations before choosing Birchwood, saying: "Since they reorganised the timetable it is easier to get to Manchester from Newton-le-Willows. There should be a bus service linking Birchwood Station with Newton-le-Willows via Culcheth, Croft and Winwick to provide connectivity to the rail service."

Another resident frustrated with poor-quality services is Gill Collier, who said: "Poor, unreliable service both to Manchester and to Liverpool. Not stopping at relevant stations and reduced times.

"[It's] not worth the hassle."

Warrington Guardian: Commuters say many of the station's services are cancelled or lateCommuters say many of the station's services are cancelled or late (Image: Newsquest)

One commuter who did have positive experiences with TransPennine Express in Birchwood is Kevin Ferguson, though he admits the good times did not last.

Kevin said: "The good experiences were when the TransPennine Express stopped at Birchwood on its way to Scarborough. But it often got stuck behind the slow-stopper train.

"This was then followed by regular delays which resulted in me being threatened with disciplinary action. In the end, I drove to work.

"The company had negotiated a parking rate with one of the Manchester car parks that made it cheaper, easier and more efficient than using the train."

He added: "I didn’t miss the crowded, uncomfortable conditions or the freezing station platform."