The Government has signalled its support for the potential introduction of tram-trains to expand the Metrolink network, which could see services extending to Wilmslow, Marple, and Wigan, with more detailed proposals expected to come forward before the summer.
The expansion of the Metrolink to include tram-trains was mooted alongside the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework, released earlier this month.
The tram-train system, which is currently being tested for feasibility, would enable adapted Metrolink vehicles to run on the same rail lines as trains.
In the near term, studies are being put forward to explore running a tram-train service between Hale and Altrincham, as well as running a similar service between Manchester Airport and Wilmslow.
Longer-term, the GMCA is looking at a major extension of these services including tram-trains to Hazel Grove, Marple, Glossop, Wigan and Atherton, Warrington, between Rochdale and Bury, and between Cornbrook and Manchester Airport via Timperley.
These new tram-train routes open up the potential for new stations across the rail and Metrolink network; these include Timperley East; Baguley; White City; a railway station at Cornbrook; Gatley North; Adswood; and Cheadle.
However, the report to the GMCA warned there were “significant hurdles to overcome” before tram-trains can implemented.
In an announcement last week, Transport Chris Grayling and Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said Transport for Greater Manchester would be bringing forward these proposals before the summer.
Grayling said: “Metrolink has been transformative for Greater Manchester and I want to see the network expand.
“A Greater Manchester tram-train also has the potential to seamlessly integrate our existing rail and tram tracks and services. We will work closely to explore proposals which would see Transport for Greater Manchester running more services, underlining our belief in greater local control.”
Burnham added: “Greater Manchester is a growing city-region, but our transport network and infrastructure is holding us back. The people of Greater Manchester deserve a transport system that works for us both now and in the future.
“Greater Manchester leaders recently shared our vision for the future of the city-region including our plan for jobs, homes and growth. Bringing innovative tram-train to Greater Manchester with greater local control and better integration of our transport system is a key part of this vision and I’m pleased that the government supports this ambition.”
Alongside the tram-train proposals, the report earlier this month set out a potential boom in Metrolink coverage across the region, including a number of extended and new lines.
Among these is an extension of Ashton line to Stalybridge, along with a branch of the Bury line heading to Middleton. Proposals have also been put forward for an extension of the Trafford Park line, which is currently being built, to Salford Stadium and Port Salford. The Middleton line has already been backed by TfGM which agreed last summer it “made economic sense” to connect the town to the wider network.
Another extension, linking MediaCity with Salford Crescent, is also being proposed.
The GMCA has committed to develop options for all of these extensions within the next five years, with some having the potential to be delivered by 2025.
Two further extensions, to Manchester Airport’s Terminal 2, and to Davenport Green, have also been put forward to be delivered in the next five years, subject to business case approval and funding. The GMCA has already put forward a bid to the Department for Transport for the Terminal 2 extension.