A rush-hour train service between Manchester and Macclesfield has been axed – leading to fears of overcrowding for commuters.
The 8.02am service – which has 11 carriages – has been removed from the timetable from today (May 16), CheshireLive reports. Operator Avanti West Coast said this is due to staff shortages and that the cancellation is only a temporary measure until September.
One commuter predicts the cancellation will lead to overcrowding and said he was ‘disturbed’ to hear of the cancellation. MP David Rutley said he will meet with rail bosses about the ‘disappointing’ news.
The alternative services for those wanting to arrive in Manchester between 8am and 9am are the 7.50am or the 8.19am. Commuter Robert Fickling says these trains only have three carriages each – meaning that in effect morning rush hour capacity will be reduced by two thirds, from 17 carriages to six.
He said: “As a regular rail user as I was surprised if not disturbed (by the news). This service provides a high capacity service of 11 coaches in length and from personal observation has been recently approximately 50 per cent full on arrival into Manchester .
“Given that national rail demand recovery has been reported by the Department of Transport as running at about two thirds of pre-Covid I struggle to see how such a cut in capacity can be justified. Especially the crowding which it will lead to on adjacent services . “
The 8.19am service is often full and standing room only from Bramhall, later in the route, from student use, added Robert. A notice at Macclesfield station informs passengers of the change.
The service originates from London Euston at 6.15am, also calling at Stoke. In an email to Mr Rutley, Robert has asked for the matter to be ‘urgently addressed’ with Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport. The email points out that at nearby Wilmslow there are five trains – with a total of 26 coaches – taking passengers to Manchester for between 8am and 9am.
Robert added: “Given that Macclesfield station is busier than Wilmslow it is hard to fathom how the Department of Transport is justifying such a poor provision for Macclesfield.”
An Avanti spokesman said: “The 08.02 Macclesfield to Manchester Piccadilly train has been withdrawn until September as a temporary measure due to staff shortages. The train is planned to return in September and our timetable is subject to regular review in collaboration with stakeholders from government, Network Rail and industry partners. “
Mr Rutley said: “It is very disappointing to see this peak time train being removed temporarily from the timetable. This will create real inconvenience and disruption for many local passengers on a key fast train service to Manchester.
“I have written to the managing director of Avanti West Coast, and will be speaking with the senior management team to seek the earliest possible return of this service, as a priority.”
This comes after a commuter who travels to Manchester from Stoke-on-Trent hit out at an ‘insane’ £ 800 fare hike caused by a train cancellation. Daniel Wilson regularly uses the 7.45am service, which Avanti West Coast has also ‘temporarily’ axed from today.
Daniel uses the busy service to travel to Manchester from his Northwood home during the working week. The 39-year-old university technician has already spent almost £ 2,800 on an Avanti-only annual season ticket, which he has five months left on.
He must now fork out an extra £ 800 for a season ticket that would allow him access to other train service providers so that he could get to work. It means that from today, he will have to get either the 6.58am or 7.27am train to get to work on time. Both of these trains are slower than the 7.45am service.
Avanti said the service was ‘planned to return in September’.