Manchester

Extra Cheshire to Manchester trains shelved for second time

A sign saying "Welcome to Northern Fail" at Manchester Piccadilly Image copyright Stephen Pimlott
Image caption The services were supposed to be introduced in 2018 but the plan stalled amid rail timetable chaos

Additional hourly train services connecting Cheshire and Manchester have been "postponed" for a second time, the government has confirmed.

Extra hourly services linking the city to Northwich, Knutsford and Mobberley were due to begin in May 2018.

But the idea was apparently mothballed amid train operator Northern's chaotic national timetable overhaul.

The Transport Secretary has now confirmed the services will not be introduced in May this year either.

Chris Grayling said the plan would "adversely affect" other services and could not be introduced until "fundamental changes" were made to other parts of the network.

Tatton MP Esther McVey said the postponement was "unacceptable" and "extremely disappointing news" for people who had been "repeatedly promised an upgrade".

She added: "It is unacceptable to have such an unreliable and irregular service in such a busy part of the country."

Image caption Knutsford was among the stations due to get a second hourly train last May

The extra services would have seen two hourly departures leaving the stations rather than the current one.

Writing to Ms McVey, Mr Grayling said the extra services would not feature in a new national timetable from May, adding "The additional (train) paths cannot be accommodated without adversely affecting the reliability of other services on the network".

"I know this will be disappointing to you and to residents in Knutsford", he added.

A spokesman for Northern said: "Our plans to introduce two services an hour on the Mid Cheshire line have been deferred, primarily because of capacity issues in and around Manchester.

"Instead, with the new timetables we introduce in 2019, we will focus on delivering improved reliability and stability for our customers."

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