The future of the vital train link between Sheffield and Manchester could be in jeopardy due to a plan to reduce rail congestion around Manchester city centre.
A new consultation run by the Manchester Recovery Task Force could result in the busy Sheffield to Manchester Airport train service being cancelled.
Liberal Democrat councillor Shaffaq Mohammed has urged Sheffield residents to take part in the consultation and share their views as to how it would impact them as commuters and holidaymakers.
The consultation proposes three options for reducing congestion and making train services in and out of Manchester more reliable. Two of these options suggest the cancellation of the service.
To mitigate the lack of a service to Manchester, the number of trains from Cleethorpes and Nottingham which go via Sheffield to Liverpool will be increased.
However this cuts off a direct link to the main airport that serves Sheffield internationally.
Coun Mohammed said he was aware of the lack of publicity around the issue and wanted Sheffield residents to have a say in the future of the service.
Since the news of the consultation was shared by Coun Mohammed on Facebook, users of the service have reacted in outrage.
One Facebook user commented: “The Manchester line is one of the busiest routes. Are you trying to cut us off from the rest of the country? You’re supposed to be making things better up here not worse.”
Another pointed out the environmental factors should be taken into account: “If people are going to fly we want them to at least use public transport to get to the airport.”
Coun Mohammed, a former MEP who used the train link in the past to get to Brussels, expressed his concern that people would use taxis and cars to get to the airport if the train was cancelled.
The Rail Minister, Chris Heaton-Harris, said of the consultation: “I urge passengers to use this opportunity to comment on the future of your railway. Improving punctuality and reliability is one of my key priorities. As we continue to build back better from the pandemic, these proposals will ensure that the rail network is more dependable for those who use it every day.”
Any changes to services will be implemented in May 2022.
The consultation is open until 10 March 2021 and more information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/timetable-options-to-improve-rail-performance-in-the-north-of-england