MPs call for rethink on controversial rail plans after suggestion of negative verdict by consultants

It has been suggested that the Government's ideas on improving train services in the north of England have been branded 'undeliverable' by its own consultants.

Tuesday, 11th May 2021, 7:00 am

The Manchester Recovery Task Force has been looking at improving poor rail services across northern England.

But the three options put forward have sparked fury from politicians across the region.

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Plans to alter rail services in the region are once again in the spotlight

Both Labour and Conservative MPs have hit out at this.

West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper is among those who have criticised the loss of a direct Southport to Manchester Piccadilly link in the plans.

Campaigners against the latter change now claim that consultants have branded Government plans “undeliverable” in private.

That has raised hopes among local politicians objecting to the taskforce’s various proposals.

Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue said: “The DfT consultation sets out options that are simply not acceptable and if true, the comments attributed to its consultants should ring the alarm bells.

“Wigan could lose its fast airport service from North Western and all options contained within the consultation reduce services for long-suffering rail passengers across the towns of the borough.

“Our borough already has poor transport infrastructure with reductions in bus services over the past decade, no connection to Metrolink and we consistently miss out on transport investment.”

Leigh MP James Grundy said: “If the speculation is correct that the proposed changes to services between Southport and Manchester have been declared ‘undeliverable’ by the consultants, then I welcome this news.

“I have twice written to the Department for Transport on this subject in opposition to the proposed changes.

“There was cross-party agreement locally that the proposals did not serve our area well, and the civil servants in the DfT should now go back to the drawing board to develop workable proposals that protect local services.”

Wigan Council has also expressed concern about the plans.

Leader Coun David Molyneux said: “We await the outcome of the public consultation with interest and we have written to the Transport Minister to express our concern.

“We firmly believe the answer to the congestion issues along the Castlefield Corridor in central Manchester is improved infrastructure, not reduced levels of service that would seriously hamper our aspirations for a new rail station in Golborne and world class connections that support long-term, sustainable economic growth and access to opportunity for all.”

A DfT spokesperson said: “We’re committed to cutting congestion, improving punctuality and reliability, and delivering a more dependable railway which benefits passengers right across the north.

“We are examining responses to a consultation on all options, which will inform decisions to improve services as quickly as possible.”

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