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IMPORTANT: Frequent and short notice timetable changes are causing difficulties for online information sources.

Quick- no time to read all that text, just the links for a quick read.... (read on for the explanations and comments...)

Just the quick links- see below of details

South West traveline accessible page -Read the detail  
mobile version of West Midlands Traveline.  -Read the detail  
arbitration procedure from the Rail Ombudsman               UK Train Journey Planner  -Read the detail  
From Traintimes-Train arrivals and departures. -Read the detail             booked train paths including freight -Read the detail  
Open Rail- live train paths (Scrpt) -Read the detail            Railway Codes- location IDs -Read the detail  
              (EC= Elliptical curve HTTPS ONLY)
Many tram and train services around Manchester are cancelled or amended due to month long maintenance works and crew shortages. Many buses diverted due to roadworks or large scale concerts and on street events. Travel in hope.

Regular changes to bus times mean that timetables at bus stops (IF there is a timetable there!) are often fictions- the publication date should be in tiny print at the bottom- if it is more than a month old, treat with caution!

Bus Travel     Bus times

IMPORTANT- Bus services are subject to further changes. Online journey planners are struggling to keep up to date.
Most buses now accept the use of contactless cards for payment.

Journey Planner - Traveline- Accessible version

Journey Planner: Bus, Train, walking up to 60 minutes, maps that do NOT need script.: It is now the responsibility of each bus operator to make their bus times available. Many regional versions of journey planners have lost funding and closed. The formerly readily accessible national traveline changed, now requiring script and images. One remains with a fully accessible page, South West traveline accessible page to whom many thanks and much gratitude. [If you would prefer the script only site it is at travelinesw with script website]

Using the above traveline links:: The origin/destination can be in a variety of forms, which use different databases for lookup, and you may be offered a choice of two or more which look the same to you but come from the (poi) point of interest or the (stop) bus stop databases. If you input a street name with a number the number is discarded and you get the result. If you omit the number you will be asked for the number (some roads are very long). Input a post code for really fast results or a bus stop ATCO code eg 1800SG05951 - this is NOT the bus stop SMS code (eg MANJAJMP) but you may find the ATCO code on the stop or a timetable - in this case the 180 means Greater Manchester, then fourth digit 0 is mandatory (0=bus stop, G=National Rail station etc), then the unique identifier may have 5 to 8 characters. Inputs such as Rochdale Town Hall or Romiley Rail Station are fine.
[ For the technically minded, the API used permits that DATE can be DDMMYY or DDMMYYYY or insert a separator of choice eg DD:MM:YYYY. Time may be HHMM or use any separator eg HH:MM as well as the use of separate fields for HH and MM].


Best bus times source-

My primary timetable source- - MORE RELIABLE than TFGM for buses from Stockport! .
If they have a redirect to a https site, I have to access the web site using a proxy due to their insistance (against the recommendation of Microsoft) on using elliptical curve.
Tip: Search for a place name (eg Northop) for a list of places and services. Now click the PLACE at the top of the list eg Northop for a list of bus stop locations and the service numbers that stop at those stops.
Towards the end of the page is a link to the individual route timetables. If you wish to type a bus stop name it needs to be the one marked on the bus stop- exactly- eg for Heaton Chapel Station you need to type Heaton Chapel Stn. does not allow you to search for a specific journey. Towards the end of the page is a link to the individual route timetables.

Bus route numbers and times displayed at bus stops in Greater Manchester are extremely unreliable. And becoming rare as the county transport body is as a matter of policy slowly removing the timetables and insisting you use a smartphone.
TFGM-Manchester:   Local transport information is now hidden by CloudFront "protection".

Bus route maps

Maps of bus services are becoming as rare as timetable information- so much for the information age... (NOTE These maps may not show the latest route or service changes.):
Greater Manchester area bus route maps are split into large areas, the maps are enormous (7MB plus) pdf documents. May also be a month or so out of date.

Free buses in Greater Manchester::- From 16th April 2023 reduced to two routes over shorter hours
Important Note: Manchester roads are subject to wholesale closure for road works and special events. The shuttle buses divert without notice (in one case for 5 months) and without any indication of diverted routes. Cessation of routes for events may be marked on stops. but diversions are usually not indicated on stops. Treat the online maps as indicative and be ready for a long walk.

From 16/4/2023, TWO circular routes, in one direction only. Times are variable and there may be long gaps in the early morning or evening. It is usually faster and more reliable to walk if you are able to.

Manchester Centre tfgm Free Bus inc map (webarchive copy)       

Travelling in Greater Manchester there are several special offers available to: holders of train season tickets; holders of old-age passes when issued in Greater Manchester and an annual supplement is paid (trains and trams within the county, ten pounds a year); the Greater Manchester Child Concessionary fare (5-15) requires proof of age AND residence, which must be provided by an I-go plastic card ticket. Don't shout at the bus driver- it is a TFGM rule!

Manchester Trams

Plan for delays and problems. Trams are subject to frequent bus replacement which is not always clearly indicated or signposted. The tram web site can be wrong. Additionally, there are frequent road closures and bus diversions in Manchester (the Council close the city centre frequently for any reason at all!). It is best to avoid Manchester or assume an extra hour on your journey and note it is usually faster to walk due to severe traffic congestion.

   manchester metrolink fare zones map.    ||   Metrolink accurate map (geographical instead of stylistic)
Zonal fares are based on all the zones you travel through so Altrincham to Bury is 1+2+3+4. "Return" tickets are now all day tickets you can use as often as you wish.
NOTE that some tram routes differ on a Sunday or if there is disruption or work- the info at stops almost tells you this but Manchester Metrolink are spectacularly poor at communications. Some routes shown are part time only, and again the details are a closely guarded secret.
There are no return tram fares from Jan 2019, tickets valid all day are only a few pence more than a single if you buy them after 9.30am and there are weekend tickets (from 6pm Friday) and family tickets which are good value. Fares are zoned 1-2-3-4. Actually getting onto a tram can be difficult sometimes.
Trams do not run to a timetable as such due to variable road conditions which may cause long gaps or bunching. First and last tram times are on the tram stops but not in a helpful format, and not always up to date or accurate. Be aware that trams stop quite early in the evening especially on a Sunday. You MUST have a ticket before boarding, there are no exceptions (even if the ticket machines are all broken) unless first you use the call point at the tram stops for consent to travel (and a reference number- have a pen handy!): if you have difficulty, DON'T just get on a tram (penalty £120).

If using "contactless" cards for travel, you must use the same card/device to start and end your journey- otherwise it may cost you £14. If you fail to start your journey using contactless, and are checked by staff mid journey, the cost is £30, but the staff will not know and not be able to tell you. Contactless is ONLY for travel on one day and using paper tickets or the app may be cheaper if weekend or regular travel is involved. NOTE: ONLY paper tickets can be used if you are paying for more than one person.

UK Train Times and Fares

Check status immediately before travelling and plan for delays and problems. .

UK Train times and fares: Some services are booked seats only.
The text first then the links will follow- JUMP to the links:

Dark Nights: Carry a torch as many stations maintained(???) especially by Northern are frequently without any lighting. Also a number of lifts are often out of order for months at a time.

Penalty fares are in place at many stations and on many routes. In some places you are required to use a card to purchase a ticket (ticket machines have no cash slots) and some tickets can ONLY be purchased with smart phones.. Some operators require or advise seats are booked.

CARE- Treat all sources of information with doubt especially if your journey is more than a week in the future! Take plenty of food and drink as even a local one hour journey could end up taking six hours (discovered the hard way...). Train services are now highly unreliable. NOTE: Normally when a new timetable is advised it can take Journey Planners up to a week to update- in 2023 it has become the norm for scheduled trains to be confirmed the night before - or later. A train cancelled at 10pm the day before is not treated as cancelled but will not be shown. Public transport in the UK becomes ever harder - and more risky- to use.

Check shortly before travelling and assume regular cancellations. Do not rely on making any connections. Don't expect information or help. In the event of an incident affecting travel it is sometimes best to wait a while as management decisions made immediately may be changed several times in a half an hour- cancelled trains are sometimes reinstated or special services found. Some initial advice may not be the best- if told to catch a taxi at your expense, push for something better but expect to wait.

When travelling, beware of using the so called "information points" at railway stations. Calls are a time restricted telephone call to an off-shore call centre, where English is poor, and information is less than is available on line. They can offer no assistance if you need help and no information on any operating problems. The calls are automatically disconnected, usually before you receive any information. Try a mobile call to the station operator- the number may be on a poster at or near the station. Expect to be stranded.

You could find yourself on a bus you didn't know about (or standing on a platform as a replacement bus whizzes past outside - or 200 yards away!) or stranded in the middle of uninhabited countryside with no assistance.

Note that a ticket price may only cover one particular train booked at one location at one instant! It may be cheaper to split your ticket, especially if you can move a portion of the journey out of peak hours, reduce cross county boundary journeys, or take advantage of greater discounts for shorter journies. NOTE travelling by train within Greater Manchester there is both a morning and evening (4-6.30pm) peak which applies if ANY part of your journey is within the limited times.

If it goes wrong, remember: if delayed over 15 minutes (newer franchises only eg Wales and Northern- minimums vary), apply for "compensation", which starts at a minimum of 20% for an hours delay, and depending on operator, may be 100% or rarely more (our record is 600%). A binding arbitration procedure has been introduced for SOME problems which remain unresolved after 8 weeks with a possibility of £2,500 maximum compensation. They will deal with any complaint under the control of the operator- which will include failure to honour delay repay conditions, but NOT penalty fares (there is separate arbitration for those).

To resolve most railway travel problems (not penalty fares) see the arbitration procedure from the Rail Ombudsman.

Train Journey Planner - accessible

UK Train Timetables uses official railway data, with no script or cookies required and is as up to date as possible in situations which can change rapidly. The https version insists on using elliptical curve so I have to use a proxy to access it. Some fares quoted may be astray- check elsewhere.

UK Live Train Arrival and Departure Boards gives arrivals and departures in the next few hours. NOTE a train shows as NO REPORT until it passes a reporting point. From Traintimes . -
Beware of duplicated station names! Do you want Adlington (Lancs) or Adlington (Ches)!

Check your trains progress::
With details of booked train paths including freight and steam specials from Realtimetrains. The train may not run or may be delayed or cancelled or rerouted. The headcode (eg 1G45) indicates the class of train- starting with a 1, 2 or 9 for passenger, and 4,6,7,8 for freight while 5 is empty carriages. The Ind code may be Working TimeTable(WTT), Variation (VAR), Short Term (ST - generally needs up to an hour to be passed around the system once started) (STP), or CANcelled. VSTP is a late amendment. Click on the headcode for route information. Enter a station, site or junction name. Pass means it passes the point without stopping. NR means No Report- if you see this at a station the train is meant to stop at, the train may have been diverted at short notice.
Another way to identify a diverted train, requiring javascript to work but with more data than the above- Open Rail (Charlwood House) live rail - requires TIPLOC code or station 3 letter code for best results (see next link). The far right column of an individual train details will say "off route" if the train has been diverted.

Station codes - eg three letter station (TLS) codes used for example by manual ticket office or train crew machines, useful if you are told they can't issue a ticket to a station. For example in Manchester a ticket to TLC/CRS/NRS MCZ (which may print on the ticket as Manchester CTLZ) includes travel on central zone Metrolink trams from your central Manchester rail station of choice to the city centre. TLC codes originally referred (as CRS or NRS) to Reservation Systems and are now used under the generic title "three letter codes" for station locations.
The NLC code for Manchester with central Metrolink travel is 0451 (sometimes as 045100), compared to Manchester Stations which is 0438. Link to Phil's web site with list of CRS (aka TLC and also NRS), NLC, TIPLOC and STANOX codes
[If you are using traveline journey planner, instead of typing the name of the station you can use the TIPLOC station code preceded by 910G, so Levenshulme Station is 910GLVHM].
. .

Here is a use where three letter station codes are used in a URL:
format: Three letter codes from /to. tomorrow or today. Time starting. dep or arr.

If you are in the UK and going abroad, an extremely useful - essential- web site to look to is the UK Foreign Office travel advice section - (free FO publications).

In 1998, 2002, 04, 06,08, 10 and 2012 holidays were in North Wales. Be sure to check out a lovely listed building at risk- Castle Lodge, Ludlow

If you are looking for UK tourist information, best of luck, there are many content-less web sites out there with just a few really useful ones for specific localities. Generally I find the various UK tourist information centres something of a waste of space, the useful TIC is a rarity to be treasured.

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