Works to improve Salford Central station, including improvements to existing facilities and extending platforms to improve capacity, may not begin until 2019, according to a report to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority.
The works on the station were due to be carried out in three phases; Phase 1a, which includes enhancements to both platforms and improvements to its canopy; Phase 1b, which includes a feasibility study into accommodating longer trains at the station; and Phase 2, which will bring back platforms three, four, and five back into use.
Phase 1a was to the first set of works to be completed, and TfGM originally said this would be finished by the end of 2017. This was then pushed back further last year, and TfGM said in September 2017 that works were likely to begin this year.
The project would have been carried out under Network Rail’s CP5 works package, which runs until the end of March next year.
However, Network Rail has now moved Phase 1a into its next works package, CP6, which begins in April 2019 and runs until March 2024, according to a report to the GMCA.
Following the delay, Transport for Greater Manchester said it was “in discussions with Network Rail with a view to exploring the options for delivering these enhancements at the earliest possible opportunity”.
A feasibility study for Phase 1b began in August 2017 and is due to complete in March 2018. This will look at options for accommodating longer trains at the station by March 2021.
However, this would not include lengthening the platforms, following an agreement with Network Rail and Northern. Any extension of the existing platforms will be part of the ongoing Network Rail North of England Route Study.
An expansion of Salford Central has been mooted since £20.5m of Growth Deal funding was allocated for the project in March 2014. A review at the end of 2014 by Network Rail found that the emerging design for the Ordsall Chord would mean that Salford Central could only accommodate four-car trains.
TfGM had thought it would be able to serve six-car trains at the station but the final design for Ordsall Chord, which was still going through legal and planning challenges in 2014, meant changes to signalling and track position.
In 2016, TfGM said it would have to find an additional £20m to carry out any extension of the platforms, and chief executive Jon Lamonte said the options for modernising the station presented “operational, timetable and financial challenges”.