Transformation of train services across the north: Work continued on Ordsall Chord in Manchester – June 2016

Thursday 10 Nov 2016

Transformation of train services across the north

Region & Route:
| North West & Central

Plans for a phased programme of benefits to be delivered to customers as part of Northern Programmes - the largest railway upgrade in the north of England since Victorian times, were unveiled today (Thursday 10 November 2016).

As part of the programme, Network Rail, supported by train operators TransPennine Express (TPE) and Northern, has announced that changes expected in December 2017, a key milestone in service development in the north, will be delivered in phases to enable the fastest possible deployment of a series of major improvements to services.

The Northern Programmes will transform rail transport in the north delivering more trains with more spaces to more towns and cities. From December 2017 there will be improved services, including electric trains with more space for customers running between Manchester and Preston via Bolton.

There will also be new direct services to Manchester Airport from across the north enabled by the Ordsall Chord, a vital new rail link connecting Manchester’s three main stations, Victoria, Piccadilly and Oxford Road, for the first time, as well as new connections into Manchester from the Calder Valley.

Martin Frobisher, Network Rail’s London North Western route MD, said: “Rail investment in the north is at its highest level right now since tracks were first laid in the 1800s.

"Already customers in the north are benefitting from faster, more frequent, more reliable trains services. And there is a host of further improvements still to come. Seeing the economy-boosting Northern Programmes unfold is really exciting."

Alex Hynes, Managing Director for Northern said: “This programme will deliver transformational improvements to the services we offer our customers. The phased approach will enable us to launch new services, such as new direct routes into Manchester, as infrastructure upgrades are delivered.”

Leo Goodwin, Managing Director for TransPennine Express commented: “Investment in our railway is vital to improving the North’s connectivity, bringing our towns and cities closer and in turn improving our customer’s journeys with us.  These improvements will help to provide additional and faster services, transforming rail travel across the North and into Scotland.”

Rail North Director David Hoggarth said: The Northern Programmes represents the start of a transformation of rail services across the north. Both Rail North and Transport for the North are clear that this type of long term investment in transport is exactly what is needed to drive economic growth.  In a project of this scale, there will be challenges, but the rewards this project will bring will last for generations to come.” “

Further service improvements are planned for 2018. Customers will see extensive change in the number of trains and new routes across the north. This will include:

  • an hourly direct service from Newcastle to Manchester Airport, providing an extra service per hour between Leeds and Newcastle
  • six trains per hour between Manchester Victoria and Rochdale
  • frequency and capacity improvements across the Northern network
  • a ‘weekday service’ seven days a week for TransPennine Express, more than double existing capacity on Sundays

There will be further improvements delivered each year up to 2022:

  • Following the upgrade of Liverpool Lime Street station it will have the capacity for an extra three services an hour, including a Liverpool to Glasgow direct service along with a direct service to Edinburgh
  • More trains between Manchester and Blackburn
  • A new station at Low Moor due to open in 2017
  • Due to future-proofing the Wirral line for the next 40 years, the track will require low maintenance meaning less disruption for passenger journeys.         
  • A new station will be built at Maghull North, serving the thousands of commuters who travel between Maghull and Liverpool.
  • Customers will have an improved experience at Newton-le-Willows thanks to an improved platforms, ticket office and car park, meeting the demand between Manchester and Liverpool.
  • Passengers travelling between Liverpool and Manchester will benefit from faster inter-city services and less congestion due to a fourth track being built between Huyton and Roby stations.
  • Major re-signalling work between Weaver Junction and Wavertree junction (South Liverpool), which will help improve passenger journey times, will mean a major step towards a ‘digital railway’ where signalling will be managed at one control centre.

Northern Programmes has so far delivered: 

  • In 2015, Manchester to Liverpool and Wigan electrification which saw the transformation overnight from two car diesel trains to four car electric trains giving a much needed capacity boost
  • Formal reopening of the Manchester Victoria upgrade in 2015 providing a lighter, brighter station environment with capacity for expected passenger growth and a truly integrated transport hub with metrolink services across the city
  • A reduced journey time between Liverpool and Manchester from May 2014 -  cut from 49 to 33 minutes and providing five trains per hour between Manchester and Leeds.
  • New platforms built at Manchester Airport and Rochdale which boost capacity and improve reliability of train services.

Upgrades currently under way include:

  • Ordsall Chord  - opening up new direct routes to Manchester Airport from across the north, and freeing up capacity at Manchester Piccadilly for additional services to run
  • Manchester to Preston, Preston to Blackpool  and Manchester to Stalybridge upgrades – bringing electric train services to these key routes and helping to boost capacity.

Future upgrades include:

  • The major upgrade of Liverpool Lime Street station to meet the rising demand of serving tens of thousands of passengers, this will provide an additional three services per hour from 2018.
  • A new service between Chester and Liverpool, meaning more frequent trains.  This service will support the potential for a direct service between Liverpool and North Wales.
  • Improved journey times and more frequent trains as part of the Calder Valley upgrade which include new and low maintenance track alongside new signalling.
  • New depots will be built in Lancashire and Greater Manchester to house the additional trains for the £1bn+ Northern Programmes.

Contact information

Passengers / community members
Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41

Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries

Network Rail press office - North West & Central Region
07740 782954

About Network Rail

We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.

Usually, there are almost five million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.

Follow us on Twitter: @networkrail
Visit our online newsroom: