The TransPennine Express and Northern train services from Lancaster to Manchester are some of the most overcrowded in the North West. It’s completely unacceptable that since 2010 passengers have seen ticket prices jump by 32% on a service which is often unreliable with standing room only.
Now, to add to the misery I’ve been contacted by constituents expressing concern at the decision by TransPenine Express and Northern to remove Manchester Oxford Road as a station on the main commuter services from Lancaster.
The proposal to remove Oxford Road means many will have to continue their journey to Manchester Piccadilly and then face an onward journey, taking an extra half an hour to get to the universities, the hospital, and countless private businesses.
I have written to both rail operating companies to highlight my deep concern and to urge a reconsideration of the decision. They have replied to say ‘during May 2018 there are extensive changes taking place to the timetables for both TransPennine Express and Northern. This will see a range of services amended and introduced. From the May 2018 timetable change, TransPennine Express were planning to operate our Anglo-Scottish services via Bolton. Following the delayed introduction of electrification improvements around the Bolton area, services have had to be re-planned which means that TransPennine Express will continue to run these services via Wigan. The railway on this part of the network is very congested with high speed, regional, local and freight services. Whilst we have been given permission to run on this route, in order to fit into the time slot available, we are no longer able to call at Manchester Oxford Road. Given the intensity of service provision on the West Coast Main Line, there is no ability to change timings.’
The decision to remove Oxford Road has the potential to limit a major source of employment from many constituents, forcing them to relocate or find other jobs.
There is an urgent need for investment in this service which is why I support bringing the railways back into public ownership. This government’s talking up of the Northern Powerhouse would have more legitimacy were more being done to make commuting to Manchester easier, not harder. I have written to Transport Minister Jo Johnson setting out my concerns. I’ll update you when he responds.