Proposals for dramatic changes to the train service from Chelford
There has been growing unreliability of many local rail services around Manchester in recent years due to delays caused by increasing numbers of trains using the two-track 'Castlefield corridor' which runs from platforms alongside the main terminus station at Manchester Piccadilly through Oxford Road and Deansgate stations.
The route provides a through link between stations to the south and east of Manchester with those to the west and north, and now as well to the north east using the new Ordsall chord which provides a direct rail connection between Piccadilly and Victoria stations.
A special Manchester rail service recovery task force was set up in January 2020 to consider ways of reducing delays and disruption due to congestion in the Castlefield corridor and a public consultation is now taking place on their recommendations for ways of improving thesituation.
There are three proposals,all of which essentially reduce the number of services travelling through the bottleneck section by reversing the tendency in timetable adjustments over the last decade or so for more through running of services across the city (with for instance trains serving Chelford not being confined to the Crewe-Stockport-Manchester line but being part of circuit workings from Liverpool which run to Crewe and back via the side platforms at Manchester Piccadilly and then Manchester Airport).
As summarised below, two of the three options involve major changes to the pattern of local trains on the Crewe-Manchester line which not only impact on the trains serving Chelford but also the destinations of the additional northbound local stopping services which start from Alderley Edge.
Local Trains from Chelford -Onetrain per hour to both Manchester Piccadilly and Crewe routed via Stockport (with Airport services passing through without calling).
Northbound services from Alderley Edge-Hourly service to and from Southport(running via Stockport and Piccadilly)
Local Trains from Chelford -No change(but increased reliability with trainset working confined to this line only)
Northbound services from Alderley Edge – Hourly service to and from Piccadilly via Stockport.
Local Trains from Chelford – Still hourly from Chelford but all local trains now running via the Styal line to Manchester rather than via Stockport (unclear whether the Chelford trains will actually call at the Airport) See #1 below
Northbound services from Alderley Edge – Two trains per hour to and from Blackpool running via Stockport and Piccadilly
Local Trains from Chelford -As Option B but said that the two trains per hour from Crewe will be 'even interval services calling at all stations'. So half hourly from Chelford? See #2 below
Northbound services from Alderley Edge – Two trains per hour to and from Piccadilly running via Stockport
#1 One of the two local trains from Crewe will take the chord between Styal and Heald Green rather than going into and reversing at the Airport so as not to increase by too much the journey time from stations south of Alderley Edge to Piccadilly compared to now.
The higher intervention options B and C will not only increase the journey time between Chelford and Manchester by most likely 10- 20 minutes, making rail less attractive as the mode of transport for commuters, but also result in the loss of through train services between Chelford and Stockport.
Requiring a change of train at either Alderley Edge or Wilmslow to travel to Stockport is a MAJOR drawback for rail users from Chelford and the surrounding area as:
David Stannard has asked Chelford Parish Council to respond to these proposals on behalf of the village. Responses are required from interested parties by 10th March. The timetable consultation is an agenda item for this week's Parish Council meeting.