Unhappy rail travellers in revolt over changes to train timetables

Campaigners Gareth Flynn (far left) and Jane Lawrence-Wood (far right) with MP Lisa Nandy and Coun Damian Edwardson collecting signatures for their petition
Campaigners Gareth Flynn (far left) and Jane Lawrence-Wood (far right) with MP Lisa Nandy and Coun Damian Edwardson collecting signatures for their petition

More than 1,100 unhappy rail travellers have signed a petition set up by Wigan’s MP demanding a re-think on controversial route changes.

Commuters have put pen to paper asking Arriva to back down on its plans to alter services so trains from Southport passing through Wigan Wallgate run to Manchester Victoria rather than Piccadilly and the airport.

The strength of feeling gives campaigners battling to save the existing routes a major boost as the petition, organised by Wigan parliamentary representative Lisa Nandy, has been running for less than two weeks.

Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue and Lancashire representatives whose constituencies line the affected route have been joined by Wigan councillors across the borough in protests against the move.

Ms Nandy said: “These changes would not only cause rush hour chaos for thousands of commuters but would also end the direct link to Manchester Airport for people who use Gathurst and Appley Bridge station.

“The number of people who have supported my petition shows the strength of feeling on this issue and Arriva need to get round the table and figure out a compromise.”

Commuters have been alarmed ever since Arriva initially floated the proposals, with thousands of Wiganers potentially facing long walks across Manchester city centre or changing at Salford Crescent or Bolton to get to and from work every

day.

Shevington and Standish Lower Ground ward representatives Couns Paul Collins, Mike Crosby and Damian Edwardson have been among the most vocal in condemning the plans for the borough’s railway lines.

Coun Crosby said: “These changes would be a nightmare for rail passengers who are being asked to pay more only to see their services scrapped.

“Lots of people rely on the Piccadilly service to get to work or university and it’s unrealistic to expect everyone to change at Salford Crescent.

“We need a compromise deal that maintains services into Piccadilly and a direct link to the airport.”

Ms Nandy will join West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper and John Pugh, who represents the Southport constituency in Parliament, in meeting the new rail minister this week to discuss their concerns.

The MPs say Arriva has defended the changes as a requirement of the deal they signed to take over the former Northern Rail franchise and therefore meeting the secretary of state could lead to the Government intervening.

A spokesman for Northern said: “We continue to listen to the concerns of customers whose journeys will be affected by these

proposals.

“We are still in contact with key stakeholders and customer groups to explore all options to be considered as well as any new alternatives.”