Action group welcomes first step of rail improvements

By Jacklin Kwan

RAIL infrastructure upgrades have been welcomed by Greenfield’s action group as they wait to see the rest of the ‘much-needed’ Transpennine Route improvement plan.

Work will take place east of Manchester Victoria station, closing the lines towards Stalybridge and Rochdale for 16 days from July 31-August 16.

The work forms part of Transpennine Route Upgrade (TRU) programme’s wider goal to deliver improvements along the 76-mile route from York to Manchester, via Leeds and Huddersfield.

During the 16-day closure, hundreds of railway workers will be working day and night to renew key sections of track, including around Miles Platting, and upgrading railway bridges to improve reliability.

There will be no trains between Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge and Manchester Victoria and Rochdale until these lines reopen. 

There will train diversion or alternative transport such as buses to keep passengers moving, with changes to be released later this year.

Mark Ashmore, Chair of Greenfield Rail Action Group (GRAG), said: “We welcome the work being done to straighten the line at Miles Platting and the associated bridge work.

“However, passengers will notice very little difference until much more of the long-promised upgrade to the line between Manchester, Huddersfield and Leeds is carried out.

“We are still waiting for the government’s Rail Improvement Plan that was initially promised for December 2020 to see if the rest of the much-needed Transpennine Route Upgrade will be delivered.”

Phil James, Network Rail’s North West route director, said: “The Transpennine Route Upgrade is a transformative, long-term project supporting economic growth in the North at a vital time and delivering real benefits for passengers and communities.

“We are confident that the long-term legacy of the project will be worth the shorter-term inconvenience of the disruption.”

Additional railway upgrade work between Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge is being planned for several weekends and bank holidays from late August through to early 2022, with details to be confirmed soon.

Meanwhile, the protracted saga over disabled access at Greenfield Station has again been raised in the House of Commons by Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abrahams.

Quizzing Chris Heaton-Harris, Minister of State at the Department for Transport in Parliament, Mrs Abrahams said: “Greenfield station in my constituency is completely inaccessible. 

“Anyone with a mobility impairment, or young children in a buggy, may be able to get a train from Greenfield to Manchester. But they would not be able to come back because they would have to get over the footbridge to get to the exit, which is impossible. 

“When will the Transport Secretary ensure that my disabled constituents get a fully accessible station?”

Mr Heaton-Harris replied: “As I have said at the Dispatch Box a number of times, we have a lot to do in getting all our stations accessible.  

“The TRU is expected to bring major improvements to several stations along that route, and we are committed to making those stations directly impacted more accessible.”

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