Guest Column: Delays in Manchester will affect Gainsborough

Trains will starting running six days a week from Gainsborough Central to Sheffield from December. Photo: Barry Coward
Trains will starting running six days a week from Gainsborough Central to Sheffield from December. Photo: Barry Coward

Two weeks ago the coming of a new train service connecting Gainsborough Central to Sheffield was announced on the front page of the Gainsborough Standard.

Since then I have been asked a variety of questions .

Q: Why will the new service not run late evenings or on Sunday?

A: Northern are required by their franchise with the Government to provide a service Monday to Saturday between Retford and Sheffield.

The new service for Gainsborough Central is achieved by extending these trains from Retford.

Q: What about running trains on to Cleethorpes?

A: North Notts & Lincs Community Rail Partnership (NNLCRP) submitted a proposal to extend the Robin Hood Line from Worksop to Cleethorpes as part of the new East Midlands franchise to be let next year.

Four companies are bidding for this franchise and we have a meeting with one of with them next week.

Q: Why can’t trains run between Gainsborough Central and Lincoln?

A: There has never been a railway line connecting Central and Lea Road stations and putting in the missing line could cost around £25 million.

Q: Will the new service be run with the dreadful Pacer trains that serve Lea Road?

A: All Northern’s Pacer trains will be withdrawn by October 2019, so the answer is not after that date and possibly well before.

Meanwhile, work to complete the Manchester to Preston railway upgrade is continuing throughout the spring and summer.

What, might you ask, has that to do with Gainsborough?

Well, the project was due to be completed last December, but old mine workings, running sand and varying layers of rock have significantly hampered the installation of hundreds of steel columns needed to carry the power cables for the introduction of electric trains.

Until this work is completed, the diesel trains that are to run new and expanded services elsewhere in the north, including the Sheffield to Gainsborough Central service, will instead continue to operate along Manchester to Preston line.

Unfortunately, Northern is unable to produce timetables as far in advance as they would like due to this engineering work.

The May 20 timetable changes will not be available in printed form until June.

However, timetables are available to view and download from the NNLCRP Facebook page.