GREATER Manchester's transport body has said train stations in the region carrying more than 500,000 trips per annum should be served by four trains an hour – which could boost Northwich's claim for more services.

As part of the Northern Rail/Transpennine Express franchise consultation held last month, Transport for Greater Manchester (TGfM) has revealed its views on the renewal process.

Knutsford had 454,000 journeys in the year ending April 2013 and has been growing – with the Mid Cheshire Community Rail Partnership expecting that figure to rise even more by the time the new franchise agreement has been fixed.

And in its official response to the franchise consultation TGfM said stations currently receiving 500,000 trips per annum should be served by four trains an hour – Northwich is currently served by just the one.

"For a rail service to be attractive it needs to provide a good frequency, a minimum of half-hourly, all-day, every day," the body said.

"A station with an all-day/every day, half-hourly service, and an average of two passengers on average boarding/alighting each train, can generate 984 trips per week; or in round terms 50,000 per annum.

"With this measure as a starting point and considering the desire for attractive services both in terms of both frequency and journey time an initial target for service frequency at a station relative to the number of passengers using a station can be developed as follows: up to 25,000 trips per annum – infrequent service, based on busiest times of day; 25,000 to 50,000 trips per annum – one train per hour; 50,000 to 500,000 trips per annum – two trains per hour; and more than 500,000 trips per annum – four (or more) trains per hour.

"However, decisions should not only be taken on the basis of historic trends. In planning services it is necessary to consider what the future use of stations will be, not just their use today."

Last week it was announced three companies had been shortlisted to run the Northern franchise – Abellio Northern Ltd, Arriva Rail North Limited and Govia Northern Limited.

Bidders will be expected to show how they will make the most of the government’s £1billion investment programme for the rail network in the north of England.

The transport body will present its report on the consultation to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority on Friday, August 29.