Burnham blindsided by Piccadilly platform plan axe


Ministers have scrapped longstanding plans to build two new platforms at Manchester Piccadilly rail station, to the dismay of the city region's mayor.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said that ‘in order to deliver for passengers quickly while providing value for money for taxpayers, Network Rail has today withdrawn a previous planning application for rail infrastructure work in the city’.

Andy Burnham

It added that it had also asked the cross industry Manchester Task Force to consider alternative options to better serve passengers.

However, Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that he only heard the news just before the decision was made public, as part of an announcement of a new £72m funding package for infrastructure upgrades in the region.

He said: ‘I found out about a new paragraph that was going in the press release yesterday morning, and I queried what it meant with my team and that was the first that I knew.’

He added: ‘On the one hand we’ve got a good announcement as far as it goes… but on the other side of the city we’ve got again confusion and uncertainty.

'What we need is a coherent plan for the railways in city centre Manchester. As long as it isn’t solved, it will mean misery for people here and misery for people across the North.

‘Don’t take a plan off the table if you haven’t got another one to put back on because people, particularly in the North when it comes to railways, will just be suspicious about that.’

Tim Shoveller, Network Rail’s managing director, North West and Central region, said: ‘If you just stand at Manchester Piccadilly and imagine the disruption that would be necessary to build two new platforms alongside the two that are there now, it would be the most incredible feat of engineering. No one in Manchester would thank us for building that right now. It is not the priority.’

Manchester Piccadilly from the air

The DfT said the £72m will deliver a third platform at Salford Crescent station and track improvement work across north Manchester, while extra entry and exit points to platforms will be added at Manchester Victoria Station.

Rail minister Huw Merriman said: ‘This new investment will help make train services more reliable for the people of Manchester and beyond, marking another milestone in a decade’s worth of rail improvements across the region.’

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