Govt invests ?72m in GM upgrades, scraps plans for Piccadilly …

The Department for Transport has ordered a rethink of Network Rail’s nearly decade-old proposal to construct a platform 15 and 16 at the busy Manchester station, while announcing improvements at Victoria and Salford Crescent.

Out with the old

Network Rail submitted a Transport and Works Act Order application in 2014 for a proposal for changes to Manchester Piccadilly and Oxford Road Station.

The project called for the two new elevated platforms, a new section of two track bi-directional railway between Piccadilly East junction and the viaduct west of Piccadilly station, the widening of the MSJ7AR Viaduct, and the lengthening of platforms at Oxford Road Station. Those interested in the proposals can get a sense of the TWAO application by looking at the linked listed building applications 107686/LO/2014/C2 and 107685/LO/2014/C2 on Manchester City Council’s planning portal.

The goal of the 2014 scheme had been to alleviate congestion. But a lot has changed since then, and the plans failed to account for major projects that have been announced since – including HS2 and the TransPennine Route Upgrade.

Accordingly, Network Rail and DfT agreed that the 2014 plans were no longer the most effective way to help reduce congestion, enhance the timetable, and improve train service.

In with the new

The Manchester Task Force is now charged with finding a better plan to help passengers. The task force is made up of officials from Greater Manchester local authorities, Network Rail, Transport for Greater Manchester, Transport for the North, and local train operators.

“Today’s announcement is really positive, allowing us to get on with fixing the infrastructure around central Manchester so we can run trains more reliably,” said Network Rail non-executive director Tim Shoveller.

“The rail industry has come together to work on these proposals, building into a long-term vision that will get the best for our passengers and freight users alike,” he continued.

“We also have ambitious plans for the future of Manchester Oxford Road. We’re removing our previous planning application so we can move forward with a new approach, something we’ll be consulting residents and businesses on later in the year.”

New platforms for Manchester Piccadilly have not been ruled out as a possible solution, either.

The here and now

While the future of Manchester Piccadilly is still up for debate, the government has announced that part of its new £72m investment[1] will see a third platform introduced to Salford Crescent. The money will also go towards track improvement works and new turnback tracks east of Manchester Victoria and near Salford Central.

Manchester Victoria will also receive additional entry and exit points to platforms.

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

The £72m funding builds upon last year’s £84.3m railway infrastructure investment[2] to get rid of delays to services in the North West. The scheme saw the introduction of a new timetable in December. The government says its efforts have already seen a reduction of delays across Central Manchester by 40% compared to 2019 figures.

News of the investment was welcomed by Emma Antrobus, director of the Institution of Civil Engineers North West.

Antrobus said: “Today’s funding is welcome in alleviating bottlenecks that cause the congestion, delays, and cancellations which regularly impact on so many people across the North.

“Effective infrastructure is key to improving rail journeys, and our members are the people who will be delivering it, but we mustn’t lose sight of the bigger picture,” she continued.

“We need a coherent transport strategy with effective leadership and accountability, an integrated approach to sustainability and levelling up, and certainty from the government to deliver it.

“Although the Manchester Task Force has its work cut out, the partners are ideally placed to help deliver services that will have a real impact across the region.”


  1. ^ new £72m investment (
  2. ^ last year’s £84.3m railway infrastructure investment (