Mid Chesire Rail Link Map

Time is right for Mid Cheshire line to reopen, say rail campaigners

Laura Storey

Rail campaigners are urging the government to consider proposals to provide a stopping service to better link towns between Crewe and Manchester.

The proposed route would run via the existing but closed railway line from Sandbach to Northwich via Middlewich and a new station at Gadbrook Park. Passenger services ceased at Middlewich station in 1960, principally blamed on the opening of the M6.

However, with increasing congestion along the M6 and main routes into Manchester, Mid Cheshire rail link campaigners believe there is an urgent need to resume the passenger service along this line.

A 2008 report by the Railway Steering Group concluded that the project was viable with a benefit:cost ratio of 5:1. Mid Cheshire RailLink said the report was circulated “widely to all national and local government agencies, Network Rail, media organisations and the rail industry but, although most supported it, no agency would take on responsibility for the project.”

However, campaigners at MidCheshire RailLink added: “At the time of the consultant’s report, national and regional projects such as HS2 and Northern Powerhouse had not been announced.” The link to the HS2 hub station is now an essential part of the proposal: “the rail link from Crewe through to Northwich and beyond to Altrincham’s connection with Metrolink is a missing link in Crewe’s connectivity in an otherwise excellent network.”

Campaigners also mention that the “increases in house building in Middlewich, Sandbach and Northwich could not have been envisaged in the current magnitude and this is causing an increase in the population and squeezing the already inadequate road network to the point that the area is now gridlocked at peak periods. The revitalisation of the economy since 2009, both locally and nationally, has seen considerable growth in business along the route of the Mid Cheshire Line, and along the route of the rail link to Sandbach.”

Plans to expand the business park at Gadbrook by a further 98 acres is also seen as an incentive by campaigners as they feel the business park is contributing to congestion on the nearby A556.

Mid Cheshire rail campaigners believe that this project would cost below £10m, would provide an alternative rail link between the Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands, easy access to Manchester city centre from Cheshire, and a direct link to Crewe and HS2.

Cheshire East Council and Cheshire West & Chester Council have been unable to provide financial support for the scheme and campaigners are now looking for investment from Government initiatives such as HS2 or the Northern Powerhouse.

Fiona Bruce, MP for Middlewich, raised the case for re-opening Middlewich station and operating a passenger service with the Rail Minister in the House of Commons. She said: “If Middlewich and the surrounding area are to reach their full – and currently greatly unrealised – potential, it is critical that the station at Middlewich is reopened to passengers and that appropriate investment is made in the line to facilitate this, and I shall continue to support and champion this both locally and in Parliament for as long as it takes to achieve it.”

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Government needs to fund this now. The benefit:cost ratio would probably turn out to be higher than quoted if it was reopened.

By Gene Walker

Maybe a combination of Metro and Merseyrail extensions to operate this line could be put forward to help this reopen.

By flan

When did Sandbach to Northwich close? I understand it remains open but is only used for freight and occasionally for passenger train diversions

By Peter

This line definitely needs to open for all the above reasons but they fail too talk about the other two more important issues the western rail link too Manchester airport from northwich direction. and the electrification of the rail line from northwich into Manchester Piccadilly which I understand is a priority one case.

since northwich is in the greater Manchester region I think it should be funded by Manchester airport for the western link to airport the link I understand would only be about 4 miles and would connect at mobberley I understand the airport already owns the land for the link!

Sandbach to northwich. Greater Manchester funded and in return we put all northwich stations under GM. controll. at present the council are trying to put all
Greater Manchester stations in one pot so putting our stations in the pot would increase finance pot.

Mid Cheshire line. – electrification from northwich funded by government/network rail. agency

By northwich

It won’t get opened, Halton curve took years of campaigning to get that line open.

By Anonymous

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