PASSENGER numbers at Northwich railway station have fallen by more than 44,000 in two years as Mid Cheshire Line disruption rumbles on.

Rail usage between April 2018 and March 2019 fell by an average of almost 10 per cent on stations serving the line in the Northwich area.

Passenger numbers fell by 13 per cent at Northwich station, with falls of 6.2 per cent at Cuddington, 11.9 per cent at Delamere, 7.7 per cent at Greenbank and 6.9 per cent at Lostock Gralam.

The figures, published by the Office for Road and Rail, cover a period including the disastrous timetable changes in May 2018, which saw mass cancellations linger on for a number of months.

For 10 consecutive years prior to 2017/18, the Mid Cheshire Line saw increases every year.

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Meanwhile, West Coast Mainline-served stations saw contrasting fortunes. At Acton Bridge, passenger numbers were up by 7.2 per cent to 22,578, while Hartford saw a drop of just over 500 passengers – a 0.2 per cent difference.

John Oates, chairman of the Mid Cheshire Rail Users Association said: “MCRUA are very disappointed but not surprised with these station usage estimates.

“During this period the Mid Cheshire Line had six months of no trains on Saturdays due to the dispute with the RMT over conductors working the doors.

Northwich Guardian:

“With Saturdays normally a busy day and on other days an increase in late running and cancelled trains, this has provided continual bad publicity for our local rail network.

“We are expecting the figures for 2019/20 to be significantly worse as, more recently, we have seen many more cancellations with passengers losing complete confidence in local services.

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“Whilst there was a reduction in passengers using Knutsford station, which probably accounts for the increase in usage at Chelford, Knutsford still has close to half a million passengers using the station and is one of the few stations in the country with these passenger numbers and only an hourly service.

“This would not be acceptable in the south, so MCRUA continues to push for the franchise promise of two trains an hour and the doubling of services on Sunday.

“In the short term, we are still meeting with local Northern management as well as MPs along the line with our demands for an improved service that local passengers can rely on.”

The figures use estimates based on ticket sales.

2016/17 saw Northwich station top a quarter of a million passengers for the first time on record with 252,638, before falling to 238,904 the following year and now 207,950.

Hartford and Greenbank passenger numbers have both more than doubled since 2007/08.