THE frequency of trains on the mid Cheshire line has remained the same after new timetables were introduced this morning, Monday.

No changes have been made to Northern services which connect Chester to Manchester via Northwich and Knutsford other than longer trains being used.

The new timetables have been implemented to help key workers and those making essential journeys get where they need to be.

And those making essential rail journeys are urged to maintain social distancing, wash their hands before and after travel and, if possible, wear a face covering.

New measures are also set to be used at larger stations if too many people are entering, so passengers should give themselves ample time for travel.

On the mid Cheshire Line between Mondays and Sundays, there continues to be trains every two hours, with the first train leaving Manchester Piccadilly at 7.09am (9.04am on Sundays) and Chester 6.51am (9.04am on Sundays) and the last trains leaving at 8.41pm (9.06pm on Sundays) and 9.02pm (8.59pm on Sundays) respectively.

Passengers should note that engineering works are planned on the mid Cheshire line on Sunday, May 24, with trains being replaced by buses up to the 5.06pm departure from Manchester and the 5.07pm departure from Chester.

John Oates, chairman of Mid Cheshire Rail Users Association (MCRUA), said: “We continue to pay tribute to the efforts of our colleagues in the rail industry and their energies to keep transport going for key workers during these difficult times.

“We ask passengers to take note of instructions from rail staff on trains and at larger stations on the line.

“Whilst we appreciate Northern’s efforts in these unprecedented times, particularly the lengthening of the trains, we are disappointed there is no increase in the frequency of trains on our line.

“Our morning peak service is only 25 per cent of the normal service, way below the 70 per cent of normal service being seen elsewhere in England.

“One train every two hours rather than every half an hour is a massive inconvenience for those who have to travel.

“On a weekday, the first train of the day arrives in Manchester at 8.17am and in Chester at 8.38am, which will be too late for many for their working day.

“On behalf of our local users, we continue to talk to Northern at a director level to encourage the enhancement of mid Cheshire line services and to give priority to our line where cancellations may happen.

“Whilst we appreciate other rail service needs, especially into Manchester, we are anxious for Northern to understand that other than by rail, there are no easy travelling alternatives for our local workers other than by car.

“As always, we remind passengers to check their timetables before they travel.”

With the introduction of the new timetables, Northern has warned passengers that overall capacity on trains will be significantly reduced to assist with social distancing.

A Northern spokesperson said: “Due to social distancing, there will be significantly reduced capacity on each and every one of our trains.

"We're therefore calling on people to help us keep the railway clear for those who need it most, and to only take the train if there’s no other way to travel.

“Those customers who have to travel by train should plan ahead, check the new timetable, and consider whether journeys are absolutely essential.”