Government and Northern leaders agreed what they described as a ‘new and improved’ timetable to be brought in, serving the Manchester area from December 2022 – with direct services from Sheffield to Manchester Airport at the start and the end of the day, instead of every hour.
Two trains an hour between Sheffield and LIverpool
It will mean a regular two trains per hour between Sheffield and Liverpool, but passengers for the airport will have to change at Manchester Piccadilly, from where there will be a train about every 10 minutes.
South Yorkshire Mayor Dan Jarvis said “It shows the limitations of our dilapidated rail network, that to ease congestion in one area, another must lose out. Just last week the Prime Minister was in Manchester, promising to 'Level Up', but the bottom line is that all we’re seeing are worse outcomes than before. This is levelling down, not up.
“The North needs and deserves a rail network that works for Northerners, that properly connects our people and places. We’re working hard to attract investment and create great jobs, but people must be able to get to them.”
Change ‘a poor outcome for South Yorkshire’
South Yorkshire LEP and Transport for the North Board Member Peter Kennan said: “This timetable change is a poor outcome for South Yorkshire and will mean the loss of a regular, well-used service to Manchester Airport. The Mayor, the Local Enterprise Partnership and the team at South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority fought hard to retain the link and will fight to get the service reinstated.
“For too long poor rail connectivity has held South Yorkshire back. Businesses here are eagerly waiting to find out what is in the Integrated Rail Plan and we hope it will include plans to complete HS2 in full and build Northern Powerhouse Rail.”
Chris Heaton-Harris, Rail Minister, said: “This new timetable has been built around the voices of Manchester that helped design it, focused on cutting delays on Manchester's railways and boosting punctuality.
“Our Plan for Rail sets out our commitment to putting passengers first when it comes to our rail network. The work we are doing to fix Manchester’s railways, which were bursting at the seams pre-pandemic, is all part of us building back better from Covid-19.”
Liam Robinson, chair of the Rail North Committee, representing northern leaders on the Task Force, said: “The interim service solution in this Consultation is, inevitably a compromise, but it allows us the chance to run more reliable services until the Task Force can deliver on infrastructure solutions to enable the network to run as it needs to.
“What’s important, is that we now have a commitment from government, and the rail industry, to develop and deliver a Railmap which will enable us to build back services in a smarter and more intelligent way and provide an exit strategy from the temporary timetable we need in the interim.”
Louise Gittins, interim chair of Transport for the North, said: "What really matters is that, while this work is going on, simultaneously, significant work will be underway to address some of the fundamental structural issues of this network which need fixing.”