The Rail North committee has updated its statutory advice to the Department of Transport alongside unveiling their proposed infrastructure and service draft plan at its Committee meeting yesterday.
After the announcement on the key £72 million investment for Manchester by the Department for Transport (DfT), which included service improvements and a third platform at Salford Crescent, Rail North has turned their sights on further improvements for the region and the north in general, in their advice.
Part of the plan includes further investment in the Manchester area.
This includes, increasing capacity on the Castlefield corridor, with only 16 trains per hour each way able to operate reliably between Ordsall Lane and Castlefield Junctions and Manchester Piccadilly currently.
The Castlefield Corridor forms part of the Liverpool – Manchester line and sits between Manchester Piccadilly and Victoria stations. It is designated as ‘congested infrastructure’ by Network Rail – only one of three in the country, with the hope that this would prompt DfT to provide funding.
Alongside the ambition to improve the Castlefield Corridor, the committee’s advice to the also outlines their desire for connectivity to improve between Manchester Airport and Sheffield, Bradford and North Wales.
The report does acknowledge that capacity on the regions network would need to improve for passenger and freight services.
In the meeting, it was noted that the previous statutory advice which had recommended improving Manchester Oxford Road and building two new platforms at Manchester Piccadilly was potentially shortsighted. In the meeting, Charlie French, investment planning manager for Transport for The North said: “It’s not to say that having extra platforms at Piccadilly isn’t a solution, its just not the solution. I think our original thinking was a little narrow and didn’t take into consideration the infrastructure around both Oxford Road and Piccadilly. This advice could address that.”
Also in the meeting, Mayor Andy Burnham was appointed as chair of Rail North with Cllr Susan Hinchliffe, leader of Bradford Council nominated as vice chair.
Mayor Burnham also took an opportunity to reinforce the committee’s commitment to disability access across the regions network. He stated that “it was no use building more infrastructure if a huge part of our residents cannot use it”.
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