An LEP funded study into the railway line between Northwich and Sandbach has revealed two options for returning services to the line.
The North/West Strategic package which would provide 2 trains per hour that link the Middlewich line directly with Birmingham, Crewe, Warrington, Preston and Manchester by 2033, in line with the arrival of HS2 Phase 2b. It assumes a number of infrastructure changes, including line-speed improvements and signalling alterations on the Middlewich line, as well as electrification between Sandbach and Hartford Junction, so that London Northwestern services could run through.
The Eastern Local package would provide 2 trains per hour on the Middlewich line between Sandbach and Northwich, with one of the services extending through to Altrincham as a semi-fast. These services can be delivered independently of HS2 and therefore could be introduced before 2027. Once HS2 Phase 2b releases capacity at Crewe Station and on the Crewe – Manchester line, the Sandbach – Altrincham service can be extended into Crewe, although extension into Manchester is likely to be subject to remodelling at Stockport. Simultaneously, the current Manchester – Alderley Edge service could be combined with the Sandbach – Northwich service providing direct connectivity between Northwich, Middlewich, Alderley Edge and Wilmslow.
The next step is the delivery of the Strategic Outline Business Case, which is expected to be delivered in Autumn 2019.