Across our Greater Manchester conurbation it’s important that train services are reliable, comfortable to use and run to a timetable which meets the needs of passengers, including commuters who want to get to work on time.
It does not seem too much to ask. However, with the introduction of new timetables this week, Northern Rail passengers in Stockport are facing a reduced service, with chaotic timetabling of trains to Manchester from Davenport, Woodsmoor and Heaton Chapel station. This is very frustrating – especially as Northern Rail has been promising big improvements to the service with an end to severe overcrowding and delays.
People see the sense in using public transport to avoid traffic congestion, and this is reflected in the increased numbers of rail passengers. Heaton Chapel, for example, is one of the busiest stations in Greater Manchester, with over 800,000 passengers a year. And they expect a decent service, rather than trains cut from four an hour to three an hour in the morning rush hour, and all three trains bunched together within a 15 minute window.
The reduced timetable is due to a delay in electrification of the Manchester to Preston line by Network Rail, which now won’t be delivered until later this year. I wrote to the Rail Minister, Jo Johnson, expressing concern about the impact of this on my constituents, who are now suffering cuts in their local services at peak times.
The Minister has written back and assured me that the cuts to train services will be reversed in time for the December timetables. I do hope he is right about that, because so far I have been disappointed with unfulfilled promises from the rail industry. However, I welcome the Minister’s reassurance and I will be monitoring this latest pledge closely. I just feel sorry for my constituents who are having to endure commuter hell between now and Christmas.