Fares, rail policy and DfT news

27.03.19

‘Unacceptable’: Northern’s extra half-hourly trains from Cheshire to Manchester delayed for second time

The introduction of two additional train services between Cheshire and Manchester every hour has been postponed for the second time, according to the DfT.

Northern promised half-hourly train services on the Mid-Cheshire Line in its bid for the franchise in 2015 along with the removal of its ageing Pacer trains and the extra services between Manchester Piccadilly and Chester were due begin in May 2018.

This was postponed until May 2019 due to the chaos surrounding Northern’s timetable introduction but transport secretary Chris Grayling has now confirmed the services will not be introduced in May this year either.

Grayling warned the plan would “adversely affect” other services and therefore could not be introduced until “fundamental changes” were made to other parts of the network.

Esther McVey, the MP for Tatton, said the postponement was “unacceptable” and was “extremely disappointing news” for her constituents who had repeatedly been promised an upgrade.

She stated: “It is unacceptable to have such an unreliable and irregular service in such a busy part of the country.

“The increase in service was part of the franchise bid and I and everyone else expects Northern to deliver this.

“I will be speaking with the DfT and setting out why this service is vital and that I expect support from them to get the extra services delivered.”

Northern said its plans to introduce two services an hour on the Mid-Cheshire line had been deferred “primarily due to capacity issues” in and around Manchester.

The operator said it will focus on improving reliability for customers through the introduction of the new 2019 timetable, and will begin introducing its new trains and retiring the old Pacers.

Last month, Northern assured passengers that the nearly 40-year-old Pacer trains would be replaced by the end of the year with a brand new £500m fleet.

The trains were originally scheduled to be withdrawn from all Northern services by the end of last year, but have been hit by delays.

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