Options to improve services across the North of England by amending timetables in the Manchester area have been presented for consultation.
The aim is to make changes to the timetable in May 2022. The work forms the output of the Manchester Recovery Task Force, set up in January 2020 to address unacceptable levels of train performance in the North West. The task force includes representatives from the Department for Transport, Network Rail, Northern, TransPennine Express, Transport for the North and Transport for Greater Manchester. The initial consultation, presenting three options for change, closes on 10 March, with a preferred option to be selected in the spring.
All three options presented reduce the number of services along the Castlefield corridor through Manchester Piccadilly and Oxford Road, which has been officially designated as congested infrastructure. Infrastructure interventions are also being developed, but the aim is to first introduce a more resilient timetable to improve performance.
The three timetable options offer increasing levels of intervention compared to the December 2019 service pattern (the ‘no change’ option). Of the three, Option C, with the most interventions, is believed to offer the best performance and the lowest level of delay per train, as well as prompting a greater increase in daily demand, although it is the option which gives the fewest number of passengers a direct service to Manchester Airport.
Once the consultation has been completed, further development and refinement of the options will take place, informing a final recommendation. Once a preferred option is chosen, a detailed timetable will be developed for consultation, planned for May 2021, by which point the main structure of the timetable will be broadly fixed.