With the uncertainty that increasingly seems to be pervading Cheshire East Council support of bus services, I am adding another summary of the public transport services available in Wilmslow to follow the earlier one for Knutsford, just so more folk realise the options that are available. As things stand, Wilmslow does gain something over its nearby neighbour when it comes to bus travel but it really seems to score when it comes to train services, even bettering Macclesfield in some respects.
Wilmslow’s four platform station is a busy one for the size of the place and probably gets a lot of commuters to and from work every day too. That’s thanks to there being several services an hour between it and Manchester, some of them being local stopping ones. These include one that goes via Manchester Airport, not as far away as the name suggests, and then into Manchester Piccadilly calling at places such as Heald Green, Burnage and East Didsbury. These usually come from Crewe so connections with other Cheshire towns like Holmes Chapel and Sandbach are afforded as well as with Alderley Edge. There are more local Crewe to Manchester services than these and most go via Stockport.
Aside from the above Northern Rail offerings, there are a number of longer distance offerings too. These are provided by Virgin, CrossCountry and Arriva Trains Wales. The first on the list operates hourly services to and from London as part of its three per hour frequency from Manchester. CrossCountry again starts from Manchester but continue south to Birmingham and beyond, with there being an earlier Sunday start than we have in Macclesfield. The last of the listed long distance operators runs its Manchester to south Wales services by Wilmslow. Once, all of these terminated at Cardiff but most now continue to places in Pembrokeshire such as Pembroke, Milford Haven, Haverfordwest and Fishguard. These places are reached after a stop in Swansea too. Trains for these aren’t stabled in Manchester though but in Crewe for some reason and that ensures earlier services to Manchester of a Sunday morning than Macclesfield so it is tempting that Wilmslow is being a little spoilt by what they get from the railways.
Wilmslow gets on a little better than Knutsford when it comes to bus travel. After all, there are Sunday services for three of the town’s services. These are the 130 that goes from Macclesfield to Manchester, the 200 from Wilmslow to Manchester Airport via Styal and the 378 from Wilmslow to Stockport. Two of these sadly are seeing council funding withdrawal for some of their journeys with 130 weekday evening services looking like they’ll be ceasing to exist and 378 weekday evening and Sunday services also under threat. It does look odd to see the 200 being left untouched while these are facing cuts since there cannot be as many using it; certainly, I found myself using some pretty quiet journeys when I did travel to Manchester Airport by bus. Let’s hope that too much doesn’t get lost with all that’s happening.
Along with the two return weekday evening Macclesfield to East Didsbury, early morning Saturday services to Manchester are in doubt too. Otherwise, 130 services are set to remain untouched with most of them being operated commercially. The Monday to Friday daytime frequency is next to half-hourly and these buses get well used too. On Saturdays and Sundays, the frequency is largely hourly so the service remains more than a little useful.
That hourly service pattern also applies to the 378 and the 200, with the latter only being a daytime service operated with a single bus and one driver; these days it’s in the hands of Welsh operator GHA. Other than these, there’s also the next to hourly Connect 88 from Knutsford to Altrincham and that doesn’t run on Sundays or bank holidays like the others.
Very Usable, Albeit in Uncertain Times
Wilmslow doesn’t come off badly when it comes to public transport options. The main worry is about supported services given cuts in public spending. Greater use would help too and increasing awareness is the main reason for this little piece. Things have come a long way over the last decade and it would be better not to lose the gains that have been made. It looks as if improved economic fortunes cannot come fast enough but they may surprise us when they do; just as upturns never last forever, neither do downturns like this one.