New rail timetable 'not good for anybody in the north' says Yorkshire mayor

Direct trains between Sheffield and Manchester Airport are set to be drastically reduced in comparison to before the pandemic as rail Revised rail timetables which will see services between Sheffield and Manchester Airport dramatically reduced are “not good for anybody in the north” one mayor has said.timetables around the north are shaken up in an attempt to prevent bottlenecks.

Northern leaders spent weeks wrangling with the Government over schedules after being faced with the prospect of having to keep Covid timetables for an unspecified amount of time.

Direct trips between the Steel City and the airport will only be possible at the beginning and the end of the day when the proposed new timetable comes into force at the end of 2022, a significant reduction in comparison to the regular service that operated before the pandemic.

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Under Covid timetables, direct trains between these two stops are not currently running.

File photo dated 26/02/15 of train timetables at Sheffield station. (PA)

South Yorkshire Mayor Dan Jarvis has said that northern figures are being forced by the Government to accept a service that is “nowhere near good enough” and one that those in the south would not have to suffer.

He told The Yorkshire Post: “I think the Government speak a lot about levelling up, but we’re being levelled down, not up.

“This deal is not good for anybody in the north.”

Schedules in and around Manchester are being torn up in an attempt to resolve bottlenecks, and the new timetable, approved by the Department for Transport is designed to reduce delays around the city by around 25 per cent.

When the changes come into effect, trains that previously ran between Cleethorpes and Sheffield, before heading into central Manchester and then out to the airport, will now head onwards to Liverpool instead.

There will be a regular pattern of service between Manchester Victoria and Leeds, via a stop in Bradford, running twice per hour.

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The news comes after weeks of negotiations over the summer, in which northern leaders had shared their concerns over a number of the proposals.

Politicians and figures across the north of England are still awaiting the Integrated Rail Plan, which it is hoped will arrive soon and give detail on the future of the Eastern Leg of HS2 and the Northern Powerhouse Rail project.

Rail Minister Chris Heaton Harris 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.”

Louise Gittins, Interim Chair of Transport for the North, said: “While rail travel has been significantly suppressed by the Covid pandemic, all our data suggests that, in a relatively short time this rail corridor will, once again, be under severe pressure unless we take action now.

The Task Force has, in the Phase 1 of this consultation, put forward a strategic framework for rail services which rail operators will now consult with the public on in detail. 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.”

A second phase of the consultation on the changes is due to be launched this autumn and is due to run for 6 weeks.