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Metrolink tram-train expansion wins Government backing

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.

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The unaptly named northern powerhouse is hilarious. Underfunded nhs, the police are virtually non existent, but hey Greater Manchester wants more transport. The mind boggles.

By Red Liver

@red liver – hows about some vinegar to go with that salt

By Anonymous

As someone who lives in Glossop and works in Manchester city centre, I have mixed feeling about this. On the one hand this would be cheaper than the current trains, though not by much. It would also mean no longer having to deal with Norther and their terrible service, so thats a plus. But on the other hand the trains we have are larger and have more seats than trams, and yet in the mornings they get packed. Most seats are taken in Glossop alone, then it has to stop quite a lot on its way to Manchester packing ever more people on. They would need to run more trams more often to make up for the lost capacity.

By Glossop Lad

Glossop Lad – tram-trains are a little different to regular trams though. They are typically longer, and have more seats due to them being placed onto longer-service routes. Obviously there has been no detailed indication from TfGM as to what the vehicles would look like, but I imagine they would be a decent compromise to Northern’s current offer. I also envisage more frequent services, probably running earlier in the morning and late at night – and the main advantage is that the tram-trains will take you right into the heart of central Manchester, instead of terminating at Piccadilly.

By Anonymous

Anonymous – for some reason I had assumed they would be the same trams we have just adapted slightly to run on regular tracks, so if they are indeed bigger and better then I’m all for it. Cheers.

By Glossop Lad

Glossop Lad,
Your are right. We need more frequent and longer new electric trains, both express and stopping trains, from Glossop to Piccadilly station (in Manchester, believe it or not) to connect to the tram network and for trains heading east. AND build a one-kilometer tunnel connection to Victoria station (Oh, Britain can’t afford it. We are a very poor country. Where is the money supposed to come from. We are not a capitalist society. We do not borrow money and invest it.. Only fools borrow money to invest in future prosperity. Sorry, I forgot about Tory policital economic ideology, which everybody knows is common sense. No public investment. If Glossop-Piccadilly line in not commercially profitable, it will have to be closed. It stands to reason, dunnit?

By James Yates

I live in Worsley, where it would be nice to have a bus! The last bus service was taken out of Worsley yesterday.

By Steve B

@Steve B – considering there is no local train station, the place is in serious need of improved public transport networks

By Steve C

There used to be a railway line from Macclesfied, through Marple to Stockport and Didsbury but with bridges demolished and new development taking place on the line, residents in Marple are now in a too little too late scenario. Of course, there is a line from Marple to Guide Bridge and another from Guide Bridge to Stockport but the powers that be seem not to want to use that as a means of getting Marple residents into Stockport by train

By Thomas Gee

The transport into Manchester from the western side of Greater Manchester is diabolical as a whole. The current metrolink network goes to many places across the North, East & South but ends in Eccles to the west.

By Steve B

All looks good, it’ll never happen. Just sort the bus network out first its a shambles. Digital stops showing the times etc…

By Pineapple Chunx

Whilst these plans are a positive move in the right direction, it appears that Leigh and the surrounding areas of Lowton are not included on the proposed tram/train network. Leigh is crying out for a rail connection and seems to be the only place in Greater Manchester without any decent transport links. The rapid transport bus link is a complete waste of tax payers money and a proposed extension of it to Lowton & Golborne is just throwing good money after bad.

By Net Ames

I think for these places not in Greater Manchester better trains are needed. Wilmslow is well served by fast trains to both Manchester and London.Glossop is not so lucky. As Net Ames has pointed out Leigh, which is in GM, has nothing but the guided buses.

By Elephant

This is great news for the UKs first Tram Train pilot here in Sheffield/South Yorkshire with Stagecoach Supertram. It was intended as a two year pilot, so if they’re putting a tram train into Manchester network, it must mean that they’re happy with Stagecoach Super Tram Train and intend to keep it beyond the 2 year pilot. Awesome news!!

By Sheffield bloke

Nothing for Partington again then despite all the bloody huge housing developments just about to be built with only one main road in or out

By DazMedia

I like the principle of tram-trains. But I was on board the Sheffield one that crashed last October. The impact was relatively small, I was one of only three who were knocked from our seats. But the damage by compression shock along the length of the front two vehicles was very conspicuous. I have photographs that I took at the time.
As a Chartered Mechanical Engineer it is very clear to me that such relatively flimsy vehicles must not be allowed to run on normal heavy rail systems where collision with the very robust trains is possible. Significant numbers of deaths can be fortold in such an event.

By Malcolm

Leigh/Lowton is apparently the biggest UK town without a rail station. Yet again Wigan get it all with a tram connection to add to its two train stations! Lowton is gridlocked @ 7am as people Commute by car to Manchester/Liverpool etc! As well as suffering the HS2 line, and to allow the building of hundreds of new houses in accordance with the new housing framework/policy, what do we get? An extension to the misguided busway that takes an age to get into manchester. Disgusting.

By Leigh Lad

Big mistake shutting Bury-Bolton line in ’70. Viaducts still up at Bolton, valuable through route it used to be from Oldham to Wigan (direct) and on to Southport/Liverpool. Was supposed to be saved for Picc-Vic scheme but built on at Bradley Fold. Oxford Road a once busy tram route (like Deansgate) isn’t mentioned. The 2 mile Corridor from St. Peter’s Square to St. Mary’s Hospital earns 20% of the region’s GVA. Along it’s route is Mcr’s main hospitals and universities, Whitworth Art Gallery, Contact Theatre, Royal Northern College of Music, Emily Pankhurst Centre, Northern Ballet, a string of hotels, Palace Theatre and a connection with Oxford Road Station. 70,000 students live there and a vibrant night-time economy all make the line an obvious candidate for Metrolink. Simple to construct, relaying track from St. Peter’s Square, no ravines to cross, are there any plans? No! Too logical! Plans for buses only. How retrograde is that? I Thought we were in the 21st Century. What would Salford Quays be without Metrolink? I rest my case. An extension from St. Peter’s Square would cost peanuts and be a boon to patients and staff of Manchester’s main hospitals and the largest student population in Europe as well as connecting this backwater with the Metrolink network. Does anyone think that the gap between St. Peter’s Square to Exchange Square is too long? That another immediate station say at St. Ann’s Square or King Street is useful? Also since the Mosley Street stop on the Market Street/Piccadilly Gardens to St. Peter’s Square route was erased does anyone reckon having a stop inserted in the Chinatown/Art Gallery locale would be a boon? Mcr. Missed a trick never having a subway like similar-sized cities in Europe and has always played catch up. Metrolink is filling that gap.

To Malcolm I think you struck on it about the compression. Tram trains, used in Germany but look a cheapskate option to fill in for regular trains in the countryside or regular trams in the suburbs, a bit of a compromise.

Net Ames and Leigh Lad you have my sympathy after having two stations Leigh has none despite Andy Burnham being your ex-MP. As for Lowton that lost its services St. Mary’s etc. When the Royal Family was in the locale the Royal Train was stables at Lowton overnight. Hope you and Golborne get your stations back. Peel Ports are intending to have regular freight trains serving Port Salford so the track night need upgrading and you might benefit.

By Anonymous

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