Most services run to or through one of Manchester city centre's major stations, Manchester Victoria and Manchester Piccadilly. The network is effectively divided into two operating halves based on these stations, although the opening of a connecting line in 1988 improved operational flexibility by joining the north and south halves. Services radiate northwards from Manchester Victoria, providing stopping services to West Yorkshire and Liverpool as well as local suburban services to Rochdale and Wigan. The south side's services radiate from Manchester Piccadilly and run to Manchester Airport, south Manchester, Cheshire, Staffordshire, Leeds, North East England, London and other major destinations.
In preparation for the 2002 Commonwealth Games Manchester Piccadilly, the principal station for the City of Manchester, was extensively redeveloped and as a consequence has been voted as having the highest customer satisfaction rating of all the main stations in the United Kingdom. As of 2013, Manchester Victoria is under renovation with the construction of a new £20 million roof while Oxford Road will see redevelopment as a result of the Northern Hub plan in 2014. The construction of the Ordsall Chord will link Greater Manchester's three busiest stations for the first time in 2016.
a The total of 98 given at www.gmpte.com excludes Reddish South and Denton, which have one service per week, but includes Dean Lane, Failsworth, Hollinwood, Oldham Werneth, Oldham Mumps, Derker, Shaw and Crompton, New Hey and Milnrow, which closed on 3 October 2009.
^Reid, T. D. W.; Lee, Irene (1979). Cheadle in 1851. Stockport Libraries. p. 40. ISBN0-905164-00-8.
^ abSanderson, Kathy (1989). "Manchester–Glossop–Hadfield". In Andrew Macfarlane. Peaks and Plains by Rail. Railway Development Society. Norwich: Jarrold Colour Publications. p. 34. ISBN0-7117-0429-5.
^Macfarlane, Andrew (1989). "Manchester–Warrington–Liverpool". In Andrew Macfarlane. Peaks and Plains by Rail. Railway Development Society. Norwich: Jarrold Colour Publications. p. 43. ISBN0-7117-0429-5.