Bee Network plans, GMCA, p GMCA documents

The Draft Greater Manchester Rapid Transit Strategy includes a map showcasing the emerging priorities for new, extended, or converted rapid transit lines in Greater Manchester. Credit: GMCA documents

GMCA outlines Bee Network expansion strategy

Tram-trains connecting Bury, Rochdale, and Oldham, and a Metrolink stations in Middleton and Stockport all factor into a draft rapid transit strategy going before the combined authority tomorrow.

Members of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority are being asked to approve the draft, which would then be sent out for wider engagement. The strategy itself is part of GMCA’s wider plans for transport in the city region from now until 2040.

The draft rapid transport strategy includes the integration of eight rail corridors into the Bee Network by 2028. These are:

  1. Wigan via Atherton
  2. Wigan via Bolton
  3. Wigan via Golborne
  4. Manchester Airport
  5. Alderley Edge and Buxton via Stockport
  6. Glossop, Hadfield and Rose Hill Marple via Guide Bridg
  7. Ashton-under-Lyne and Stalybridge
  8. Rochdale

The strategy also hints at the GMCA’s thought process for the future. It includes discussions about:

  • Exploring more night-time services on the busway and wider bus network, as well as increasing regularity of trams between midnight and 1am
  • Working with industry partners to create formal vehicle for regeneration, commercial, and housing delivery around rail stations
  • Refreshing the ‘Transport for sustainable communities: a guide for developers’ guide from 2013
  • Developing a tram-train Pathfinder

The map at the top of this article, taken from the strategy document, showcases the emerging priorities for new, extended, or converted rapid transit lines in Greater Manchester.

Read the Draft Greater Manchester Rapid Transit Strategy

The strategy has earned praise from Rochdale Council Leader Cllr Neil Emmott. He said: “I’m delighted to see the Mayor prioritising this investment into Heywood and Middleton; two very important areas which have suffered from chronic underinvestment in their public transport infrastructure for a number of years.

“Boroughs like Rochdale, in the north of Greater Manchester, still don’t enjoy the same level of economic prosperity as those in the south of the conurbation, and substantially better public transport infrastructure will go a long way towards addressing this imbalance,” Emmott continued.

“The need to accelerate this transport revolution is even more acute now, given the development of Atom Valley, the largest growth opportunity in Greater Manchester. This transformative project to bring millions of pounds of investment and thousands of advanced manufacturing jobs into the borough will only increase the strategic importance of areas like Heywood and Middleton to the economy of the wider region and the country as a whole.

“That’s why it’s vital that we have world-class transport infrastructure to match our world-class ambitions for growth.”

Your Comments

Read our comments policy

I can’t see Labour investing in regional transport

By Anonymous

How long have Buxton, Glossop, Hadfield and Alderley Edge ,been in Greater Manchester? These places were adamant they wanted to remain in the shires, a courtesy not extended to the mill towns.

By Elephant

@July 11, 2024 at 12:24 pm
By Elephant

The Transport for London system extends into Hertfordshire, Essex and now Berkshire so I can’t really see a problem. A lot of people from Glossop and High Peak commute into Greater Manchester.

By Rye

To be welcomed. Just missing tram from Altrincham to Warrington via Lymm on the TPT.


Unsure of the Tram-Train idea. I would like to see electrification of the Cheshire lines route and the reinstatement of the Cadishead to Skelton Junction line. This would connect Partington up as it is isolated from the rest of the Borough. It would also allow you to build a new town at Carrington.

By Stephen

Elephant all those places, like Oldham, function as part of Greater Manchester and they have done for a long time. Again, let’s not get hung up on arbitrary administrative lines on a map or some green fields and focus instead on how the city actually functions.

By Anonymous

Underground overdue as indicated by Burnham 2050 is a long wait for nothing concrete.

By Anonymous

I’ll believe it when I see it…things in our country take so long to even get started they are often cancelled before they even begin. I’ve just come back from Spain where I had the opportunity to use some of their High Speed rail network. I couldn’t help feeling how that network puts us to shame.

I did some reading and found out they now have over 2,500 miles of High Speed track in the country…..if they can do it why can’t we.

By Manc Man

Excellent vision. Now that we have removed the dead weight of the previous government this sort of thing can become reality. Looking forward to seeing what a progressive alliance between Burnham and the Labour government can achieve

By Anonymous

We should be creating guided busways now instead of waiting to build tramlines to fill in huge gaps in Greater Manchester transport connections and we should be drastically cutting the amount of car parks and especially free parking to push people towards public transport use and stop all future development that is inaccessible by public transport.A car dependent society is one that produces very bad outcomes for people health as they don’t walk and become overweight.

By Anonymous

Try telling a mancunian they should leave their car at home and find another way to travel, they just laugh at you, very different attitudes to London or Europe

By Anonymous

Very commendable. Is their an accompanying regional vision to link Warrington,Liverpool, Preston, Leeds, etc.

By Alnip

Public transport is all well and good but it simply doesnt work for the masses. How do you expect the average family to get kids to school, and nursery and make their way to work in cities and surrounding areas via public transport? It works for a small % but not large swathes


Despite some setbacks and negativity from the usual lot, this scheme seems to be turning into a pretty big success

By Anonymous

I notice a distinct lack of connection to North Bury, if only there was a train line there that the LA would allow to be converted to a commuter Tram Train…

By Mis Manager

Rather than extending the commuter belt of this plan into deepest, darkest Derbyshire and Cheshire, why not make a strong economic statement, by connecting Warrington to Manchester. It is far more important to the North West’s productivity than Buxton’s and Glossop’s small populations being connected to Manchester . I know it will be,on the hoped for fast train to Liverpool but it has a population of a quarter of a million and has been key to the prosperity of the area between Liverpool and Manchester since the 80s. Oldham has been part of GM for decades, as was stated by Anonymous at 1.54pm but that was after a lengthy campaign to remain in Lancashire. I am an Oldhamer, and I remember vividly at that time how enraged people were at having our Lancastrian heritage diluted.

By Elephant

At what point is endless wishlists from Andy and GMCA going to turn into an actual strategy?
They could perhaps learn something from business here about an actual strategy setting out deliverable outcomes and how they will be delivered – with the odd stretch target or wider aspiration – rather than more and more highly aspirational dotted lines being drawn on maps.

By Deaf Star

Elephant, it doesn’t matter whether people were enraged about an arbitrary boundary change. What matters is how businesses traded, whwre they got their inputs from, where they sold their products, how all this activity was financed and distributed for that is the fundamentals of what constitutes a city, not an individuals subjective take on their identity or who collects their bins at a point in time.

By Anonymous

All this is great, but we also need an inner and outer circular route. Bus/tram/train whatever, but we need to get away from only providing the current wheel and spoke pattern of transport

By Bradford

Why should the UK national government based in London be responsible for capital investment in regional transport? The Prime Minister will be taking global geo-political decisions on local road potholes next.

By Anonymous

In the hands of people who know what they are doing.

By Chris Cowle

We’ve all seen variants of this in the past we just need to see some shovels in the ground.

By Rich X

@Deaf Star says “They could perhaps learn something from business here about an actual strategy setting out deliverable outcomes and how they will be delivered”

Haha. A business can go to a bank for finance. A local authority is dependent on the vagaries and politics of government funding decisions.

By Anonymous

Unfortunately @Elephant, In pursuing closer ties with Warrington, I don’t suppose the GMCA would want to risk getting too close to the Council’s accumulated £1.9bn debt – sorry ‘investment’.

By WayFay

@PS ‘Public transport is all well and good but it simply doesnt work for the masses’ – what on earth are you talking about? Public transport is literally built FOR the masses, how many school kids take the bus to school? How many commuters get a train/tram to work? 46% of Londoners don’t even have a car – cars are not meant for the masses because the congest roads and make it harder for everyone to get around. Public transport on the other hand is literally THE solution to transporting masses of people

By Anonymous

Anonymous at 5.32, give me one benefit the milltowns to the North of the city, have gained from being in GM? The town centres have been hollowed out, wages are low, whilst Central Manchester, Salford, and South Manchester have boomed. Bury has done slightly better because it has been on the Metrolink longer but the tram, is infinitely slower than the original train to Oldham, if more frequent. Burnham has ignored GM North throughout his tenure. He has accentuated Britain in miniature, for all his achievements. Manchester has taken all the trimmings, in the same way, as London has taken all the trimmings, at a national level.

By Elephant

This looks great. If a Bolton-Bury and Oldham-Ashton links were added it seems we could have a nearly full orbital tram-train route from Wigan-Bolton-Bury-Rochdale-Oldham-Ashton-Stockport(-Altrincham) which would surely go some way toward relieving congestion in the centre, which is identified as the key issue by TfGM

By Anonymous

How are we going to police all this, there’s not enough for the transport we already have, until there are more police my children are not getting a tram

By Anonymous

Elephant you’re confusing the change of an arbitrary boundary with structural changes in the economy that have affected all post industrial economies including inner city Manchester salford and Trafford. North Manchester has lagged south Manchester for decades, the issues are structural and affect towns and cities up and down the land. But I think there is wide acknowledgement of this issue and finally some concrete steps to help bridge that gap; improving connectivity working greater Manchester is one very important component. The Atom Valley initiative is another. Local regeneration initiatives led by the council are another,

By Anonymous

Forget the tram-train. Use what is: trains, trams, buses. Buses (electric, hydrogen) are best: stop near where you live/work (more nearer stops than rail stations) so faster end-to-end, need no for enormous capital investment (replace older buses), can divert if needed, can run more frequently. This tram/rail mania is manic. And borrow money and dig that Pic-Vic rail tunnel to create a German-style S-Bahn cross-city fast urban rail system.

By James Hayes

Just wanted to pick up on Elephant’s comments, and while I understand the sentiment I think it’s unfair for a couple of reasons. I remember coming back to Rochdale many years ago as a newly minted grad and finding that because Manchester city centre had lost its lustre a lot of the work had gravitated to business parks in the south of GM, which were very difficult to access without moving. So it’s easy to grumble about resurgent city centre, but the alternative is much worse for North GM, and if you look at London as a template a big part of total employment in Greater London is right in centre not in the outer boroughs. The other thing that has really prevented North GM from prospering is greenbelt. In South GM you can take a train out to London-style 1930’s suburbia, but in North GM you don’t and for those places to be vibrant they need a bigger middle class to support spending power in the town, improve the labour force, cultural amenity, school performance etc… You can see that penny has dropped I just hope we can move quicker because places like Rochdale and Oldham are incubated some dysfunctional politics that will only get worse.

By Rich X

So many negative comments on here . The network continues to grow and is the envy of other cities .

By Wislon

No better time to do this.
Now there is a Manchester orientated Labour party in power. I hear your Mayor singing Things Can Only Get Much Better

By Eric

The Princess Parkway – Wythenshawe – Manchester airport connection would have been a no brainer. It’s not even on the map, so we have got to take this expansion strategy to facilitate better [city centre airport] connectivity with a pinch of salt.

By Not sure planners were involved

There is a big announcement on infrastructure coming in the King’s speech. This is rumoured to be the resurrection of HS2 to Manchester. If so, this will all need to take the arrival of HS2, into account.

By Elephant

If Labour are to build HS2 ther really are not the right choice for the environment

By Anonymous

Middleton could be conected much easier by reopening old line from Oldham under Oldham road. Through tunnel Oldham council could not wait to demolish during lockdown for housing but hey who cares if millions needs to be spent now diverting services just so “our Andy” can have line instead on alternative route through Rhodes from Bowker vale. Then trams can run at 15mph on streets rather than offroad at 50mph+.No on in Middleton is going to pay extorionate fares to go slower due to 40+ traffic lights that will be fitted along mile stretch.

By Anonymous

Related Articles

Sign up to receive the Place Daily Briefing

Join more than 13,000 property professionals and receive your free daily round-up of built environment news direct to your inbox


Join more than 13,000 property professionals and sign up to receive your free daily round-up of built environment news direct to your inbox.

By subscribing, you are agreeing to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

"*" indicates required fields

Your Job Field*
Other regional Publications - select below