Sunday, 9 September 2012


  I've just returned from another little adventure on the bus to Northwich. It was quite a jolly jaunt but this time the round trip took no more than five hours ! But it did include a spot of retail therapy before returning via train from Sandbach  station. Now, I've  often joked at being "confused of Goostrey" - some say it is no joke ! - but on this occasion after the bus dropped me off outside the station I can honestly say I was totally confused. So too was the lady I asked if she knew which side of the station did the Manchester-bound trains stop ! She confided it was also her first visit to Sandbach  station as a Secret Shopper to check on the station staff and she had no idea either. Like many stations on this line, it was securely padlocked, not a soul or fellow traveller in sight and certainly no rail staff to point the way. Several other passengers arrived and, like me, they had no idea but as in TV's Who Wants to be a Millionaire one of them phoned a friend who guessed we'd be on the right tracks if we crossed the bridge to the opposite side. Sure enough, I then spotted a sign on the platform saying Manchester trains - only trouble was there was also an arrow that appeared to direct us back over the bridge  the way we came! All very confusing but by this time my lady  SS had vanished after ascertaining no staff were ever on duty so I decided to stick it out. Wise move as moments later the train came,but it would be helpful if Northern Rail marked its up and down lines clearly.
A notice on the platform told me that moves were afoot to revive Friend's of Sandbach Station.

Station master with five staff at Goostrey Station
(Click on picture to enlarge)

  This is an excellent idea. Since such a group was formed at Goostrey, the station has regained some of its old sparkle with fresh plantings of flowers and hacking back the jungle of grass by enthusiastic volunteers. I hear there are more improvements planned to make the station a more pleasant travelling experience, including the possibility of a shop in the old waiting room. I can hardly believe that in living memory Goostrey   was a hive of activity with its own station master and staff but the evidence is in the picture I reproduce here.
I have no beef with Northern Rail and have no idea why Sandbach station deserved a Secret Shopper. Just to keep the record on line, I've always found its train staff excellent and most helpful !

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