MP Damien Moore has criticised Transport for the North (TfN) for including a vital rail line which was recently restored in its public consultation over the future of services.
Three years ago, the Southport Conservative MP led a determined and ultimately successful campaign for the restoration of the Southport to Piccadilly rail service.
The campaign gave a huge boost to local commuters and businesses, allowing them to access Manchester stations including Piccadilly, Deansgate and Manchester Oxford Road.
The Manchester Recovery Task Force Public Consultation however has now been launched and includes a wide range of options for a number of services, which include a review of the Southport to Piccadilly rail link among many others in the North West.
Passengers are being presented with three options which feature increasing levels of change from the pre-Covid service patterns. These three options affect different routes, and which routes have direct services to Manchester Oxford Road and Piccadilly stations, as well as Manchester Airport.
This consultation is seeking views from the public and stakeholders on rail timetable work that has been undertaken during 2020 to address the poor performance of the rail network in the Manchester area which has been the source of much train delay on rail services across the whole north of England since late 2017.
The study will inform decisions to be made in Spring 2021 on potential changes to the passenger timetable that would be implemented from May 2022.
Southport MP Damien Moore said: “Three years ago we led a substantial and successful campaign to restore the important Southport to Piccadilly rail link.
“I am disappointed to see the link now included as an option for review in this consultation, which is pretty incompetent by the Task Force. There appears to be a lack of conversation taking place behind the scenes between officials.
“Any possibility of the Southport to Manchester Piccadilly link being lost is something I am firmly against, and there are other MPs in the North West who will share that view.
“The consultation is a very wide ranging review and some of the lines which are currently in operation do need to be looked at.
“Passengers have been experiencing poor performance to, from and through central Manchester for too long. Timetable-based solutions can help to make performance much better.
“Better performance in the Manchester area will improve the reliability of services across the north of England rail network.
“Southport might even benefit as a result of the review, there might be some positive results for us.
“The Southport Town Deal submission currently being considered by the Government include plans for a new theatre, a new light show and support for Southport Pleasureland to become an all year round attraction. Southport attracted 9.1million visitors in 2019 and the Town Deal proposals have the ambition to attract millions more.
“There is a very strong case to be made for strengthening local rail links, allowing people in Greater Manchester to travel to Southport with greater ease, as well as allowing people in Southport to commute to Manchester via a more reliable service.
“One option which needs to be explored is easier rail connections between Southport and Manchester Airport.
“I would urge people in Southport to take part in the consultation, and I look forward to seeing the results of the review.”
It is hoped that the changes under The Manchester Recovery Task Force Public Consultation will ensure passengers can benefit from a more reliable service, with a greatly reduced risk of facing knock-on delays, while longer term infrastructure changes can be developed to then enable more services to be added in the future in a sustainable manner.