Sheffield could lose direct rail link to Manchester Airport in ‘problematic’ shake up

Sheffield could lose its direct rail link to Manchester Airport under proposals to shake up train services in the north.

Wednesday, 10th February 2021, 8:57 am

A consulation is underway about how to improve reliability and punctuality in and around Manchester..

The direct service between Sheffield and Manchester Airport would be scrapped in two out of the three options being considered by the Department for Transport (DfT).

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Sheffield could lose its direct rail link to Manchester Airport

Those two options would, however, see the number of trains between Cleethorpes/Nottingham and Liverpool via Sheffield increase to two per hour.

People have until the end of March 10 to have their say, with a decision due to be made this spring and whatever changes are chosen set to be introduced from May 2022.

Peter Kennan, chairman of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s transport forum, has urged people in the city to make their views known about the different options, each of which he claimed had their ‘pluses and minuses’.

"If we get an additional direct service to Liverpool every hour that has to be a good thing from a Northern Powerhouse perspective, connecting those cities,” he said.

"On the other hand, losing that direct connection to Manchester Airport is problematic for a number of reasons. That link is very important for Sheffield’s universities, helping them to attract foreign students and they’re very concerned.”

Should the direct Manchester Airport link be scrapped, passengers from Sheffield would have to change at Manchester Piccadilly, where a frequent service would be available.

Mr Kennan said one possible benefit could be that it would strengthen the case for a railway link to Doncaster Sheffield Airport which he is confident will eventually be built.

He also raised concerns that the consultation talks about using all the available capacity within central Manchester, yet makes no reference to plans which have already been approved to provide a third fast train every hour between Sheffield and Manchester by 2023.

"We don’t want to be told there’s no space for that third train between Sheffield and Manchester, which the DfT already recognises are the worst connected city pair in the whole of the UK,” he said.

Sheffield Chamber is holding a meeting for its members next Thursday, February 18, to get their views before responding to the consultation.