Rochdale still doesn’t have a direct link to Manchester Airport

Date published: 04 December 2019

Following the completion of the Ordsall Chord railway line in December 2017, it was announced that Rochdale was on track for a direct rail link to Manchester airport.

It was expected that Rochdale trains would be able to travel directly to Manchester Airport without changes at Manchester Victoria by the summer of 2018.

The chord links Manchester Victoria, Oxford Road and Piccadilly stations in the city centre, providing a link to the airport by passing through Manchester Piccadilly.

However, despite earlier reports, it seems as Rochdale will be going into 2020 without a direct line to Manchester Airport.

A train service from Rochdale to Manchester Airport is available, but a change is required either at Manchester Victoria or Salford Crescent.

Both Network Rail and Northern were contacted for an update, but did not respond to our enquiries.

However, Richard Greenwood, the chairman of local rail group STORM (Support the Oldham and Rochdale Manchester rail line), which has been present for over 25 years, shared his views about the situation.

He commented: “The reason that we still do not have through trains to the airport is that Network Rail cannot provide a path for the overcrowded corridor between Deansgate, Oxford Road and Piccadilly stations.

“Because of the delay in expanding the capacity at Piccadilly, it is likely to be some time before we can get through trains.”

He continued: “It was, I think, recognised that getting the proposed number of trains through the congested corridor of Deansgate, Oxford Road, Piccadilly was going to be difficult without some further expansion of capacity.

“One proposal was to provide two more platforms at Piccadilly which would be a major operation as that part of the station is on a viaduct.

Manchester Oxford Road station consists of four platforms but can only utilise three platforms most of the time.

The chairman suggested: “This is due to a lack of a lift on the platform that makes it inaccessible for disabled persons and is not compliant with disability legislation. Installing a lift with perhaps some re-signalling ought to make it possible to get more capacity but whether this is being considered or not I do not know.”

He added: “I personally feel that there is an unfortunate air of defeatism in the rail industry on this topic.”

The train extension problem remains unresolved. There is no confirmation about when, or if, Rochdale will extend its services to provide a direct line to Manchester Airport.

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