MP Jonathan Reynolds has asked train operators Northern Rail to introduce an hourly rail service between Stalybridge and Stockport.
Although there used to be a regular service that ran between the two towns which allowed people to travel directly, in recent years that service has been scaled back to a ‘parliamentary’ service— running one way, once a week.
That means passengers now have to go in to Manchester and then out again - on two different trains -in order to travel between the two towns by rail.
Mr Reynolds highlighted the potential offered by the route at a meeting hosted by the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, in December.
Since then he has talked to a number of people who have shared his concerns about the current route and his belief that the service should be improved.
Now he has written to Ian Bevan, managing director of train operators Northern Rail, to ask for an hourly service between the two stations, at the earliest possibility.
He said: “It simply makes no sense that a railway line exists between Stockport and Stalybridge, with a service that runs in one direction just once a week.
“Failing to make use of this route means passengers have to take two separate trains – into Manchester and back out again - in order to travel between the two towns.
“A reinstated direct service would improve the links between these two towns, by making the journeys quicker and easier – and I believe it would be well used by passengers.
“I have now written to Northern Rail asking them to introduce an hourly service between the two towns – and I can see no reason why they should not look favourably on this request.”
Mr Reynolds accepts that in recent decades there has been a concentration on the need to connect outlying areas to central Manchester.
But whilst he recognises the importance of links to and from the city centre, he says it is now time to look at ways of better connecting the parts of Greater Manchester that lie outside the M60.
Reinstating regular rail services on the route between Stalybridge and Stockport, he says, would be a positive step towards improving transport connectivity around Greater Manchester.
“In recent years there has been a concentration on the need to connect outer boroughs to the city centre,” said Mr Reynolds.
“However there is now a growing consensus that limited connectivity stifles economic growth and deters investment.
“Now is the time to look at changes that will ensure areas around the city are better connected to each other – thereby improving opportunities for those living in areas like ours.
“People are increasingly looking to bus and train services and I cannot believe that if a regular and reliable service was reinstated on this route that it would not be both popular and profitable.”
Mr Reynolds acknowledges that a serious consideration of this issue by Northern Rail could take some time. But he has asked the company to respond with their initial thoughts and details of any work they have done to assess the viability of a regular service on this route.
Published 28 January 2013