The neglected mid-Cheshire line between Manchester and Chester through Knutsford is the subject of a new study jointly commissioned by Transport for Greater Manchester and the two Cheshire councils.
The Mid-Cheshire line runs from Manchester to Stockport and Chester passing through Altrincham, Knutsford, Northwich and Delamere. Currently it is only served by a Northern Rail 'stopper' visiting more than a dozen stations and the journey from Manchester Piccadilly to Chester takes nearly an-hour-and-a-half.
Nevertheless, the volume of passengers using the line increased by 66% between 1998 and 2010. Current figures show it continuing to increase annually at a rate of 10%.
The study will last until April and will focus on journey times, timetable improvements, stations and stops, in addition to infrastructure.
It is being carried out by JMP Consultants with funding for the project provided by Transport for Greater Manchester, Cheshire West & Chester Council and Cheshire East Council.
TfGM and both councils are part of the Mid-Cheshire Community Rail Partnership, which aims to promote and enhance rail services in the area and is made up of 10 stakeholder bodies.
Cllr Andrew Fender, chairman of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, said: "The Mid-Cheshire line is a key commuter rail route in the North West, with passenger numbers growing year on year as the statistics show. It is therefore very important that services meet passengers' needs and support economic growth along the corridor between Manchester and Chester.
"By carrying out this study along with our partner organisations, we hope to come up with proposals that could improve services for passengers and help develop the line's potential.
"Any enhancements to the line would also complement the half a billion pounds being invested in the region as part of the Northern Hub project, which TfGM very much welcomes."