Back on track? Rail Minister signals support for MPs’ bid to save Piccadilly link

Back on track? Rail Minister signals support for MPs’ bid to save Piccadilly link

Rail campaigners received a boost this week as the new Rail Minister signalled his support for a proposal that will save direct services in to Manchester Piccadilly.

Local MPs Lisa Nandy and Yvonne Fovargue, who have been fighting to save the direct rail link between Southport to Manchester Piccadilly, met with the newly appointed Rail Minister, Paul Maynard, to discuss the issue last week.

The MPs outlined the level of public anger about the proposed changes on the Southport-Wigan line and put forward a blueprint for change. Following the meeting the Minister gave the Department for Transport the green light to work with the train operator Arriva and planners at Rail North to find a solution.

Yvonne Fovargue MP said: “Wigan Passengers value a direct train service and resent the current proposals that improve services for other areas at their expense. I am not prepared to allow my constituents to be treated so poorly and the Minister was left in no doubt at the meeting as to the strength of feeling that exists.

“I am pleased that the Minister instructed his officials to find a solution and we will continue to pressure the DfT and Arriva to deliver a direct service.”

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy said: “The Rail Minister was left in no doubt about the level of public anger these proposals have caused. Many passengers who rely on this line to get to work have already had to put up with increased fares and overcrowding. Now they are told they may lose the direct service altogether. Passengers have been ignored all the way through this process. They have now been heard and we will ensure their concerns are addressed by the government”.

The original plan to end the direct link to Piccadilly in December 2017 – routing all trains on the line to Manchester Victoria – was formally announced by train operator Arriva after it took over the Northern rail franchise in April this year. Passengers immediately protested to Arriva bosses who infuriated MPs and passenger groups by admitting the changes had not been the subject of any consultation and claiming their “hands were tied” by the terms of the franchise.

MPs have been contacted by passengers alarmed at the prospect of longer journeys to get into work and changing trains to Piccadilly and the airport. A major concern has been the uncertainty in making a rail connection, especially at busy peak periods in the evening. Indeed, figures obtained by the passenger groups Southport Rail Transport Forum and Ormskirk Preston and Southport Travellers’ Association show that over 60%) of commuters to Manchester from stations between Southport and Wigan face losing direct train links to Deansgate, Oxford Rd and Piccadilly stations.

September 23, 2016 By : Category: News Print