Transport for the North (TfN) has backed a newly-launched consultation bringing together the key general public and key organisations in the North West to discuss and plan improvements to the rail network in and around Manchester.
The Manchester Recovery Task Force Public Consultation is working with the Department for Transport, TfN, Network Rail and train operators Northern and TransPennine Express.
The public consultation is aimed at investigating what can be done to improve the performance of the rail network around Manchester and how it can be made more into a reliable service for users.
Passengers are being presented with three options which feature increasing levels of change from the pre-Covid service patterns. These three options affect different routes, and which routes have direct services to Manchester Oxford Road and Piccadilly stations, as well as Manchester Airport.
Liam Robinson, Transport for the North’s Rail North Committee Chair said: “Passengers need a better deal when it comes to reliability. When they return to the North’s trains, they need to step onto services with confidence.
“Manchester’s congested rail network has long been the source of delays and frustration for passengers, with knock-on effects for the North’s communities. We urge everyone to take a look and give their view on these proposals.
“Whilst the goal of these short term changes is to reduce delays and increase reliability, it is clear that the work we are doing with Government and the industry on longer-term investment in rail infrastructure is also critically important, alongside changes to services.”
The agreed option is scheduled to be introduced in May 2022 and will significantly improve overall reliability, while also maintaining the pre-Covid travel connections for the vast majority of passengers.
Some changes may lead to a small minority of passengers being required to make different choices for travel.
It is hoped that the changes will ensure passengers can benefit from a more reliable service, with a greatly reduced risk of facing knock-on delays, while longer term infrastructure changes can be developed to then enable more services to be added in the future in a sustainable manner.
Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester and Transport for the North Board Member, added: “I welcome this consultation and the Government’s focus on this issue. 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.”