Posted 14th January 2021 | 3 Comments

Manchester rail service consultation launched

THE Department for Transport has launched a public consultation about three possible future patterns of train services in Greater Manchester, in a bid to improve reliability on its congested network.

The first option makes few changes, but the second sacrifices the through service between Sheffield and Manchester Airport in return for increasing services between Cleethorpes, Nottingham and Sheffield to Manchester and Liverpool to twice-hourly. The DfT points out that the Sheffield to Manchester Airport services have proved to be ‘very operationally challenging’ at Manchester Piccadilly.

The final option, Option C, makes the most changes. Its aim is to achieve twice-hourly frequencies on most lines to Manchester including services on the Blackburn, Calder Valley, Chorley, Wigan, Buxton, Chester via Warrington Bank Quay, Airport (stopping) and Crewe lines.

Any changes are set to be introduced in May next year.

Rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: ‘We are putting the power to improve Manchester’s rail network in the hands of those that use it daily.

‘I urge passengers to use this opportunity to comment on the future of your railway. Improving punctuality and reliability is one of my key priorities. As we continue to build back better from the pandemic, these proposals will ensure that the rail network is more dependable for those who use it every day.’

Manchester’s mayor Andy Burnham has welcomed the consultation, saying: ‘The bottleneck in central Manchester is a problem for the whole of the North – and solving these congestion issues will improve the reliability of rail services for passengers right across the North. As we look to build back better from the pandemic, we want to work with the Government to deliver a reliable and dependable timetable, alongside the much-needed upgrades to our Victorian infrastructure.’

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • Ben, Hull

    Depressing to see this is a top down exercise with the options already decided, I don’t see the point. The problems are bigger than this apparent tinkering around the edges.

    The starting point for any discussion should be the recognition that Manchester is big enough and ugly enough to warrant two main stations; please desist in trying to squeeze everything into Piccadilly. Take note Mr Burnham.

    Simply stated, NE and Yorkshire TP route trains to all points west should use Victoria, while Sheffield plus all points south trains should use Piccadilly. The airport should be served by an all stops to Pic shuttle originating at Victoria. Also, they need to seriously look at Railfuture’s proposal to relocate much of the freight out to Cadishead.

    In retrospect, closing down half of Victoria in the 80s was a massive error.

  • Richard Phillips, Derby

    I am unsure about Option 2 improving the reliability of services, as it would increase the number of trains through the Oxford Road corridor. Pre-Covid, the truncated service from Sheffield (which originates at Cleethorpes) to the Airport reversed in a terminal platform at Piccadilly, and when formed of two sets, often one of these had to layover in Piccadilly due to lack of platform length at the Airport. Doubling the Nottingham-Liverpool service would increase the number of trains through the Oxford Road corridor.

  • Richard Wilcock, Prestatyn

    Perhaps if the DfT had not cancelled the enlargement of Oxford Road and Manchester Piccadilly station platforms 13 to 14 to have 4 operational platforms then we would not have this problem!