£72 million boost for train services in Manchester and the North

£72 investment for rail travel across the North. Credit: PA Images

The Government has announced a £72 million package to improve train services in Manchester and the North.

But it has faced criticism after a long-term project to add extra platforms to busiest station, Manchester Piccadilly, has been scrapped.

The funding will go towards a third platform at Salford Crescent Station to reduce congestion and delays, as well as towards track upgrades in north Manchester.

Rail Minister Huw Merriman said: "An efficient railway is key to levelling up and the improvements delivered through this package will help boost local economies and connect people to opportunities, as well as friends and family."

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

Passengers at Manchester Victoria station Credit: PA

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: "This investment supports our commitment to transforming journeys across the North by delivering 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."

The funding announced today follows the announcement of a new timetable launch in December 2022.

It's hoped that funding will deliver a better performing timetable and extended platforms for longer electric trains with more seats.

The investment has been criticised by rail engineer Gareth Dennis who has said the plans are "grotesquely insulting".

He said: "If the £20bn cost of Crossrail is a straight line between London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly (259.5km), then £72M only gets you 934m of they way there... Landing you in Beatty Street, Camden. That's about a ten minute walk."

Mr Dennis said he was trying "to think of ways to visualise how grotesquely insulting this loose change is for people in Manchester and the wider North".

Network Rail has withdrawn a previous planning application for work on Manchester Piccadilly, Airport and Oxford Road stations, and the Government has asked the Task Force to consider alternative options.

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester

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 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."

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 and are 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 Government said it will be supporting the reform of local rail in the region, including pilots of Pay-As-You-Go ticketing and integrated London-style transport on the Bee network.

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