In order to reduce bottlenecks and provide more reliable journeys for 150,000 passengers across the Manchester rail network, a new train timetable to take effect from December 2022 onwards has been largely approved.
Most of the core services in and around Manchester have been approved on the new timetable, with a focus on improving rail service performance and providing more punctual, reliable journeys for passengers.
With northern leaders and Government agreeing the need for a new and improved timetable to be rolled out across Manchester, following an extensive public consultation which launched in January 2021, a timetable has been designed which intends to reduce service delays by as much as 25% on the network.
The new timetable will see:
- Direct Manchester Airport connectivity for Liverpool, Chester, and North Wales retained.
- An hourly service running between Southport, Wigan, and Manchester Oxford Road all day
- A second hourly service from Southport to Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge all day
Final details of services in and around Manchester are being refined ahead of launch, and there will be ongoing public involvement in the process.
Changes to services will ensure the wider Manchester area remains closely connected, while removing a number of common bottleneck issues – including improving services across local ‘hotspot’ areas such as the congested Castlefield area in Manchester.
This bottleneck has constrained the flow of rail services for years, which when calculated generates millions of minutes of costly and damaging delays.
The timetable was jointly produced by the cross-industry Manchester Recovery Task Force, comprising the Department for Transport, Transport for the North, Transport for Greater Manchester, Network Rail, and the train operators Northern and TransPennine Express.
Chris Heaton-Harris Rail Minister said: “This new timetable has been built around the voices of Manchester that helped design it, focused on cutting delays on Manchester’s railways and boosting punctuality.
“Our plan for rail sets out our commitment to putting passengers first when it comes to our rail network. The work we are doing to fix Manchester’s railways, which were bursting at the seams pre-pandemic, is all part of us building back better from Covid-19.”
Liam Robinson, Chair of the Rail North Committee, representing Northern leaders on the task force, added: “This part of the network is the buckle in the belt of the North’s rail network. It has to be able to do its job. The interim service solution in this consultation is, inevitably a compromise, but it allows us the chance to run more reliable services until the task force can deliver on infrastructure solutions to enable the network to run as it needs to.
“What’s important is that we now have a commitment from government and the rail industry to develop and deliver a rail map which will enable us to build back services in a smarter and more intelligent way and provide an exit strategy from the temporary timetable we need in the interim.”