Crisis talks over rail route changes

A Northern train
A Northern train

Angry MPs have summoned a rail company to crisis talks over proposed rail route changes opposed by thousands of passengers.

Arriva will meet parliamentary representatives to explain why it proposed alterations to commuting routes through the borough without first consulting travellers.

The plan to run services through Wigan Wallgate to Manchester Victoria instead of along the line serving Piccadilly and the airport has caused uproar among those using the trains to go into the city for work.

Arriva announced the changes, which are set to come into force in December 2017, soon after winning the contract for the former Northern Rail franchise.

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy, who has already spoken out against the plans, is one of the driving forces behind setting up the crisis meeting.

Ms Nandy said: “Arriva have gone about this in a very back to front way, announcing major changes to services into Manchester before even consulting with passengers.

“I have already met with Arriva to explain the concerns of my constituents who have contacted me on this issue and I’m working with other MPs in the region to put pressure on the company to go away and listen to what passengers are saying.

“All too often train companies act as if they are unaccountable to the people who rely on their services but we will ensure passengers’ voices are heard.”

Passengers have responded with fury to the proposed alterations, saying they will be left facing long walks across Manchester to get to their destination and have to change trains at Bolton.

Concerns have also been raised that there could be dangerous overcrowding of platforms at Salford Crescent.

A Northern spokesman said; “These proposals will not reduce the number of trains serving Southport and other stations on these lines.

“The proposed changes are due to major updates to the North West rail infrastructure.

“There are major challenges to how we manage services to the west of Manchester, some of our busiest railway corridors.

“We are currently consulting with concerned stakeholders, which will include meeting with MPs that have constituencies on this route.”