6:20pm Wednesday 16th July 2014
By James Wilson
RESIDENTS have been urged to get behind a campaign launched by the Guardian and the Mid Cheshire Community Rail Partnership to get a half-hourly service connecting our towns and villages to Manchester and Chester.
In June the Cheshire and Warrington Local Transport Body (CWLTB) recommended it would lobby Rail North – an organisation looking after the renewal of the Northern and Transpennine Express franchises – and the Department of Transport in a bid to get more trains running through the area.
It also pledged to work with stakeholders and community rail partners to explore opportunities to improve rail services, stations and rolling stock and wider longer term goals for the Mid Cheshire Line corridor.
The Mid Cheshire Community Rail Partnership is urging Rail North and the Department of Transport to look at the figures collated by volunteers that show the demand for the line.
More than half a million journeys are made from Knutsford and the partnership believes that passengers should benefit from a half-hourly semi-fast service to supplement the current hourly service.
Sally Buttifant, Mid Cheshire Community Rail Partnership officer, told the Guardian that residents played a key part in keeping pressure on rail bosses.
“I was really excited to get this proposal before the transport board,” she said.
“With the support of Cheshire East Council and Cheshire West and Chester as well I’m thrilled with the recommendations.
“That is a large step forward but we can’t rest on our laurels, it is about keeping the pressure on. There is so much happening in the rail world at the moment.
“The people on the Mid Cheshire line need a half-hourly service as it is overcrowded and there needs to be better rolling stock.
“Rolling stock is a national issue and that is not something we can fight in mid Cheshire that easily but what we can work on locally is to affect the bids and to make sure the franchises have a half hourly service for the Mid Cheshire line.
“At Northwich, if you count that station and Greenbank, we’ve got 400,000 passengers and the busiest parts of the line are between Greenbank, Northwich, Knutsford and Manchester and those people need the 30 minute service.
“A lot of people drive because they don’t get a seat and won’t travel on a ‘pacer’ train and as a result just sit in traffic.
“If the journey time was reduced then we would get more people on to the train.”
Henry Brooks, from the Tatton Estate, told the Guardian the increase in frequency would help the areas businesses thrive.
“There are major businesses like the Tatton Estate, Barclays, and Bruntwood who have been supportive and it’s important for them to do just that,” he added.
George Osborne, Tatton MP and Chancellor, added: “The Mid Cheshire Line is a crucial part of our local transport infrastructure. More regular services would be very welcome and I applaud the efforts of community groups to galvanise public support.”
Show your support by visiting railnorth.org and downloading the consultation document.
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