Most controversial changes scrapped in new Manchester timetable
A NEW timetable for train services in north west England has been confirmed by the Department for Transport. A public consultation was launched at the start of this year, and one of the options proved controversial because it would have ended direct trains between Manchester Airport and Liverpool, Chester and North Wales. These services have been rescued and will continue running when the new timetable starts in December 2022. Other features include all-day trains running once an hour between Southport, Wigan and Manchester Oxford Road, and a second all-day hourly service between Southport, Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge.
The schedules are designed to reduce delays by up to 25 per cent and were jointly produced by the cross-industry Manchester Recovery Task Force, which consists of the Department for Transport, Transport for the North, Transport for Greater Manchester, Network Rail, Northern and TransPennine Express. Liam Robinson, who is chair of the Rail North Committee, pointed out that it had been necessary to accept some compromises, saying: ‘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.’ Rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: ‘This new timetable has been built around the voices of Manchester that helped design it, focused on cutting delays and boosting punctuality.’
The revisions have been welcomed by passenger watchdog Transport Focus. Director David Sidebottom said: ‘Any new timetable will involve compromises, but overall, these changes will be an important step to make rail services more reliable and attractive.’