RAIL campaigners are angry that West Lancashire is to lose its direct service to Manchester Piccadilly.
From December 2022, services from Southport through West Lancashire to Piccadilly or Manchester Airport will be removed even though they had only recently been restored.
An hourly service will run between Southport, Wigan and Manchester Oxford Road, while a second hourly service from Southport to Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge has been retained in the timetable produced by the Manchester Recovery Task Force.
Ormskirk, Preston and Southport Travellers Association chair Alan Fantom said: “The Southport line into Manchester is the only one to have made a full business case for its services which is how we won the Piccadilly service back and we were building on this, e.g. with an extra commuter service to and from Victoria.
“This was totally disregarded by MRTF who have dogmatically pursued their preference for a train operating plan which sees Blackpool gain a second airport service when overall services have been reduced.
“All day services between Southport and Oxford Road, and Southport and Victoria are presented as something to be celebrated when it is less than what we have today.”
West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper had previously called for the direct service between Southport and the south of Manchester city centre to be protected under any review.
She said: “Those with good rail services get more, those who don’t get less!
“Metropolitan Mayors have got more for their bigger, already well served areas. It’s very sad that levelling up seems to mean big gets bigger and smaller gets forgotten.
“I will keep fighting until West Lancashire has the improved rail connections it desperately needs.”
Rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: “Our Plan for Rail sets out our commitment to putting passengers first when it comes to our rail network.
“The work we are doing to fix Manchester’s railways, which were bursting at the seams pre-pandemic, is all part of us building back better from Covid-19.”