'Capacity constraints' hit extra Cheshire train services

Knutsford Railway Station
Image caption Knutsford was among the stations due to get a second hourly train in May

Long-promised extra train services for Cheshire are not being introduced due to "capacity constraints", rail officials have said.

Extra hourly services from Macclesfield to Blackpool and Chester to Manchester were due to begin in May.

Transport for the North (TfN) said "risks to performance" meant they were not currently possible, but it was looking at an "alternative benefit".

Northwich MP Mike Amesbury said the uncertainty was "quite unacceptable".

The second hourly services were mooted by train operator Northern as part of the national timetable overhaul of May, which ended in chaos.

The Chester to Manchester service would have served Altrincham, Knutsford and Northwich, while the Macclesfield to Blackpool service would visit Poynton, Bramhall and Cheadle Hulme.

A TfN spokesman said that due to "capacity constraints on the train paths and risks to network performance, these services have not been able to be introduced at this time".

"We will work with the industry and stakeholders to identify a solution or identify an alternative passenger benefit," he added.

It has now been confirmed that from May 2019, the Blackpool service will now travel as far as Hazel Grove, rather than Macclesfield, while the Chester service will terminate at Altrincham, instead of Manchester.

Weaver Vale Labour MP Mike Amesbury said the change had been made "without any explanation or consultation".

"The lack of a frequent, reasonably fast, and reliable train service is causing economic difficulties in mid Cheshire", he added.

Northern has been contacted for comment.

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