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Direct services between Cleethorpes and Manchester Airport ‘saved’

Direct train services between Cleethorpes and Manchester Airport “should continue” as part of the new TransPennine Express (TPE) franchise, the transport secretary has confirmed. 

In response to a question from Cleethorpes MP Martin Vickers, on the future of rail services in the region, Patrick McLoughlin stated that “after consideration of the responses to our consultation on the Northern and TPE franchise, we have decided to retain the Cleethorpes services within the TPE franchise”. 

Vickers along with the MP for Brigg and Goole, Andrew Percy, had led a campaign in conjunction with the Grimsby and Scunthorpe Telegraph to retain the services. And the transport secretary noted: “I am very pleased to announce today that it has been successful”. 

Earlier this year, as part of the DfT’s stakeholder consultation on the TPE franchise and Northern Rail franchise, the government asked stakeholders to consider how best to use £1bn of investment across the network. It also suggested that the South Humberside services are under-used and should be reshaped. 

The consultation document said: “Stations between Doncaster and Cleethorpes currently have an hourly TPE service from Manchester Airport. Passenger loadings are relatively high between Manchester Airport and Doncaster but low between Doncaster and Cleethorpes. The majority of passengers from Cleethorpes, Grimsby and Scunthorpe are travelling only as far as Sheffield or connecting at Doncaster or Sheffield for onward services, rather than travelling over the Pennines. 

“We are therefore examining the option, subject to operational constraints, of terminating the TPE service from Manchester at Doncaster with a replacement Sheffield-Cleethorpes service being operated by Northern, possibly as an extension of the existing hourly Northern Sheffield-Scunthorpe service. A wider package of changes could also feature the transfer of one of Northern's two services between Doncaster and Hull in each hour to TPE, allowing a through TPE service to Hull via the South TransPennine route (i.e. via Sheffield).” 

This led to the opposition and, following McLoughlin’s announcement yesterday, campaigning MP Martin Vickers said: “I am delighted that the campaigning has been successful. It has been long and well organised, with masses of evidence produced by all involved on the impact the loss of service would have. 

“The result of the campaign clearly demonstrates how government backbenchers can be influential in affecting decisions through their direct access to ministers.” 

Cllr Chris Shaw, leader of North East Lincolnshire Council, hailed the announcement as a great success for local co-operation. 

Andrew Percy MP added that the retained service is of vital importance to the local economy and is pleased the campaign was successful in its aims.  

“I will now continue to press ministers on the phasing out of Pacer units and hope to bring news on this in due course,” he said.

(Image: Alvey & Towers) 

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