Members of Transport for the North’s (TfN) Rail North Committee say that planned infrastructure upgrades such as new signalling, track work and platform lengthening haven’t progressed quickly enough in recent years.
As a result, congestion on the North’s railways is so bad that services previously running are now proposed to be removed from December 2022 just to make the timetable operate more reliably.
It comes as the North’s leaders considered proposed service changes following a consultation to tackle congestion in and around Manchester’s Castlefield Corridor.
However, with the Government having yet to publish the Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands, the mayors and political leaders say they are being asked to make decisions about services on behalf of the North’s passengers whilst ‘totally in the dark’ about funding and timing of rail investments over the next decade.
The Committee has demanded:
*The Integrated Rail Plan to be published this month (July 2021), detailing what rail projects in the North will be funded and when they will be delivered
*An accelerated timetable for a package of initial rail infrastructure schemes in Manchester, to start earlier than currently planned
*Ensure the infrastructure schemes in Manchester enable long-held commitments for new connections, including services from Bradford and the Calder Valley to Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport
The issues centre on congestion on the Manchester corridor – a key rail hub impacting the reliability of many of the North’s rail services.
This part of the network supports over 116,000 passenger trips into Manchester daily, with a 72 per cent increase since 2002.
It’s also key for east-west routes that carry thousands of cross-Manchester journeys, including over 7,000 passenger trips per day to Manchester Airport.
Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “We need the government to give a clear timetable for work to solve rail congestion in Central Manchester.
"We are fed up with being fobbed off and need action, not words.”