SADDLEWORTH RAIL passengers are at risk of losing out after TransPennine electrification plans were shelved, say local rail champions.
Electrification of the Manchester/Leeds and Sheffield/London lines has been paused for review, moving the scheduled completion from December 2018 to a currently unspecified point.
The works, being delivered by Northern Rail, were expected to increase train speeds, line capacity and reliability to improve services.
But local train campaigners are concerned the delay could result in a host of problems, particularly the possible addition of another TransPennine Express train which could increase hold-ups on the line.
Richard Knowles, who lives in Greenfield, is an Emeritus Professor of Transport Geography at University of Salford.
He said: “The announcement could be bad news for local passengers using Greenfield and Mossley stations.
“The two new rail franchises start in April 2016 with the expectation that while electrification work was underway, the hourly all-stations trains from Huddersfield to Manchester Victoria would be replaced by skip-stops on express trains into Manchester Piccadilly.
“Unless the government suspend the introduction of the sixth TransPennine Express until electrification, passengers using Greenfield and Mossley stations could face a permanent loss of their current all-stations train service to Ashton under Lyne, Manchester Victoria and beyond.
“Rail users were expecting their train service to increase from hourly to half hourly after electrification. This is now under threat.”
Royce Franklin, secretary of the Greenfield Rail Action Group (GRAG), added: “We have already had trouble caused by the fifth train per hour – local trains have been consistently late as a result.
“To have a sixth train would spell disaster for local commuters.
“The government have a preoccupation with travel being concentrated on big city to big city. They take little or no account of the needs of local passengers travelling from intermediate stations.
“The difference in any one hour between a fifth and sixth express train per hour is a mere three minutes per train. It is hoped at least the rail authorities take this into account and are sensitive to the needs of local commuters.”
GRAG are currently setting up a meeting with local MPs and rail authorities to discuss plans and issues around the electrification and services.