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Government pledges £72m to improve Manchester’s train services

This Government say this package will improve the passenger experience by having more reliable trains and fewer delays.

At Manchester Victoria Station, Rail Minister Huw Merriman revealed the latest of four infrastructure upgrades to improve day-to-day journeys for passengers across the region.

The £72m package announced today will come as a welcome relief to train users in the North, who often have to battle with a unreliable service.

Manchester Victoria Station will also benefit from extra entry and exit points to platforms, making it easier for passengers to travel through the station during busier periods.

Speaking to I Love Manchester, Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “This investment supports our commitment to transforming journeys across the north by achieving much-needed infrastructure improvements in Manchester.

“Today’s funding, alongside major projects like HS2, the TransPennine route upgrade and Northern Powerhouse Rail, demonstrates our pledge to improving opportunities for passengers across the region and leaving a positive impact for generations to come.”

However, there is a bittersweet taste to the announcements, as the Government have also announced they will not be adding two platforms to Piccadilly station after much speculation.

The plans for new platforms 15 and 16 at Piccadilly to ease the chaos when using the platforms further away are more than a decade old.

Railbosses have decided to go back to the drawing board now and try something different to alleviate the issues at busy times.

Responding to the Department for Transport’s announcement, Darren Oldham, Transport for the North’s Rail and Roads Director, said: “This is excellent news which will enable work to ease railway congestion in Manchester to continue.

“The work that Transport for the North and its partners have already carried out through the Manchester Task Force has delivered a 40% reduction in service delays since December.

“This latest funding will deliver even more capacity works over the next two years to further ease congestion.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the Department, Network Rail and our partners on the development of further solutions for Manchester as we grow the network and improve services.”

Today’s announcement is the latest step in transforming services over the next decade through the Manchester Task Force – a cross-industry body, including representatives of:

  • Network Rail
  • Transport for Greater Manchester
  • Transport for the North
  • local train operators

In order to deliver for passengers quickly while providing value for money for taxpayers, Network Rail has today withdrawn a previous planning application for rail infrastructure work in the city.

The Government have asked the task force to consider alternative options to better serve passengers and support the £26 million already injected to improve services at Manchester Piccadilly, Airport and Oxford Road stations.

Combined with ongoing electrification projects and the TransPennine route upgrade already underway, the latest measures will pave the way for an enhanced timetable from the middle of the decade and the introduction of future HS2 services into the city.

Network Rail’s Tim Shoveller said:

“Today’s announcement is really positive, allowing us to get on with fixing the infrastructure around central Manchester so we can run trains more reliably.

“The rail industry has come together to work on these proposals, building into a long-term vision that will get the best for our passengers and freight users alike.

“We also have ambitious plans for the future of Manchester Oxford Road. We’re removing our previous planning application so we can move forward with a new approach, something we’ll be consulting residents and businesses on later in the year.:

The announcement comes after the government agreed to give Greater Manchester more control over the railways under a  ‘trailblazing’ new devolution deal.

The recent devolution deal has committed to supporting reforming local rail in the region, including pilots of pay-as-you-go ticketing and integrated London-style transport on the Bee network.

Throughout the discussions surrounding the trailblazer agreement, Andy Burnham, the Labour mayor, emphasized the pressing need for substantial investment in the five city centre stations.

Under the new deal, Burnham will wield greater influence over the provision of local train services, allowing for their seamless integration into the Bee Network, a public transport system modelled after London’s efficient infrastructure. In light of this, he has warmly embraced the latest injection of funds directed towards improving the railway network within the city region.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said:

“There is a massive opportunity to change rail journeys for people and businesses in Greater Manchester and the North for the better, and this infrastructure investment is a welcome next step to help make that happen.

“Through the task force and our trailblazer deal, we will continue working with the government and the industry to help shape the comprehensive package of improvements needed to transform rail travel and support our growing economy, so that we can create more jobs and homes.”

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