Tram, Ashton, P.tfgm
Various GM councils have expressed a desire to see the Metrolink network extended. Credit: TfGM

Tameside keeps Stalybridge Metrolink vision on track 

Dan Whelan

The council is to draw down £100,000 of TfGM funding to explore options around creating a bus and train interchange at the town’s existing railway station that could link to Greater Manchester’s light rail network in the future. 

Tameside’s desire to see the Metrolink network extended eastwards to include Stalybridge is outlined in its Inclusive Growth Strategy 2021-2016. 

As it stands, the Metrolink network only reaches as far as Ashton-under-Lyne, 2.5 miles away. 

Talk about creating a Metrolink station in Stalybridge has been ongoing for a number of years. In 2018, Jonathan Reynolds, member of parliament for Stalybridge and Hyde, expressed his desire to see the town added to the network. 

Tameside is not the only council keen to see the Metrolink’s extended. Rochdale wants to see a spur created to connect Middleton with the Bury and Rochdale lines, while Stockport has requested up to £1bn from the government to back the extension of the line from East Didsbury.

A report to Tameside Council’s executive requests the committee approve the drawdown of cash from Transport for Greater Manchester to undertake the Stalybridge Interchange Options Study. 

Metrolink Network Map From 6 Sept 2021

At present, the network only goes as far as Ashton-under-Lyne. Credit: TfGM

Any potential Metrolink expansion would form part of the proposed Stalybridge Interchange. 

The interchange project aims to consolidate the town’s bus and train stations into one hub, relocating the former to be closer to the latter. 

Currently, the town’s bus station is located 300 metres from the train station. 

This project was highlighted in the Stalybridge Town Centre Challenge Action Plan. 

A consultancy team is to procured for the interchange options study this month to “develop options for a potential new transport interchange in and around the existing rail station linked to the wider programme of regeneration in the town centre and mindful of potential for future Metrolink/tram train services”, according to the executive report. 

The results of the study will be reported back to the council next March. 

The interchange project is one part of a wider plan to regenerate Stalybridge. 

In June, Tameside lodged a £14.5m bid to the government’s Levelling Up Fund to progress a series of projects in Stalybridge including the rationalisation of surplus retail space for alternative commercial uses and making improvements to public realm and accessibility within the town centre. 

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Not sure why Stalybridge is a priority over larger towns? They have a railway station. Surely Bolton should be first for any funding? These extensions to smaller town seem lacking in ambition.

By Elephant

Bolton also has a rail station, and their silly council have allowed housing to be built all over the disused railway alignments, essentially cutting the town off from any prospect of ever getting a Metrolink connection.

It’s not necessarily the end destination which is important, but the areas in between which benefit from a tram connection. I personally feel Middleton and Stockport should be the highest prioirities.

By Anonymous

A major drawback with the Metrolink is the lack of connectivity between existing lines. E.G. – Altrincham to Manchester Airport is via Trafford Bar! Oldham to Ashton is via Victoria! (these are less than 10 mins journey time in a car/taxi) but take over 1 hour on the Metrolink – surely it would be better to spend any money available improving what we have already?

By Dean Young

@Elephant, technically if the reason Stalybridge shouldn’t have a Metrolink connection is because it already has a train station, then surely the same goes for Bolton ;) But, why not both – after all, If money were to come from each Borough for their own extensions (or at least partly pay for extensions in their borough) then we could see another big bang with tram extensions right across GM. Stockport wants to see Metroplink with the connection to East Didsbury, Bolton wants a connection via Bury, There’s also Middleton and this Stalybridge plan.
The thing is, Metrolink is relatively cheap to build. We don’t have underground and very few elevated sections, we don’t have long platforms and most of our trams are singles. This is possibly the cheapest rapid transit that can be built. Imagine if we were the rest of the world that’s more ambitious and actually builds underground railways (like Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane are right now)…

By Jo

Really welcome this. Stalybridge seems to have made some good progress this year with the markets in the square, work on the heritage zone, the levelling up bid and now a possible new interchange. Apparently work on the Civic Hall will start next year and a ‘heritage walk’ is underway. Glad to see the town buzzing again.

By Anonymous

No good arguing about where the Metrolink should and shouldn’t go. In my opinion it should go to as many places within GM possible. Bolton, Stalybridge, Middleton and Stockport all being part of that.

TfGM/MCC main ambition should be making our Metrolink network as expansive as the London Underground.

By MetroLINK

I agree with Jo that we should have both but my original argument is that Bolton has a population of 280.000 people. Stalybridge is not a priority if limited money is being allocated for extensions.There was talk of Glossop being on the Metrolink too. This is GMs Metrolink not Derbyshire’s. Wigan is not on it, or Stockport and there is no circle line connecting the GM towns.

By Elephant

Anything that remotely intimates moving the Bus Station nearer to the rail station in Stalybridge, indicates that the Fire Station would need to go, as logically, it’s the most suited piece of land. As for the tram network, just cannot see why they would look to take it to Stalybridge, as the potential ramification regarding land acquisition and inevitable years of disruption, would be ridiculous.

By Anonymous

I agree that extending Metrolink is about the communities along the route and not just the destination. Bolton, Stalybridge and Stockport are all good candidates. A cheaper option is to follow West Mids Transport’s lead and lay new tramlines without overhead lines and use battery trams. Better links between existing lines would also help Manchester regain some aspects of the superb tram network that existed until 1949.

By Stripey Zebra

Before asking for money to do a study to bring the metro to stalybridge, ask the people who live there if they actually want the metro in stalybridge. Much more cost effective

By David Whitworth

Considering that the people of Tameside voted against having the metrolink , it just shows how our councilors and MP’s don’t listen.

By David Garforth

Elephant – Glossop was considered to be added to Tameside in the 1972 Local Government Act – and the town is part of the Tameside and Glossop CCG, hospital trust, etc. (New Mills and Whaley Bridge were considered for inclusion in Stockport). I can’t see a problem personally to add Glossop to the tram network though it’s probably not a high priority at the moment. Stockport and Middleton would be my priority areas.

By SW

@David Garfouth, there has never been a vote/referendum on whether Metrolink should come to Tameside or not. I don’t understand why anyone would be against this, better connectivity is good for the economy. Other areas are desperate for Metrolink, why would Stalybridge turn it down if it was offered. Improving connectivity was part of the Town Centre Challenge consultation/plan.

By Anonymous

The same people saying “we don’t want Metrolink” are likely the same people who complain about traffic congestion. We need a solution which extends beyond people moaning about everything.

By Anonymous

If there was a vote for Metrolink there would be no metrolink, I lived in Didsbury years ago and people did not want the metrolink at all.

By Dan

Bolton is the priority area via Radcliffe so it is connected to Bury.

By Elephant

There is realistically only one route it could follow, and that would be along Stamford St past Stamford Park, anyone who has ever used this road knows it is busy at the best of times but running a tram down the middle would be chaos

By Terry Harrison

I remember when Stalybridge had a good selection of shops and an indoor market, but there was a good bus service to Ashton and Oldham. Lot’s of people went to both towns to shop. Taking the tram to Stalybridge would not encourage people to go there, rather the opposite and take shoppers away to Ashton and beyond.

By Anonymous

Stalybridge getting metro link will be just the excuse the train companies need to cut services, it’s a terrible idea. It’ll take about an hour to get into town and cost as much as the train.

There’s already good rail and bus links between staly and Ashton, we need better links between staly ad stockport.

By Anon

Would love to have the Metrolink stop at Denton, could re-purpose the Denton train line and link onto the Ashton Metrolink line at Audenshaw with possible connection to Stockport…? No idea if it would work I’m sure someone in the know can say whether that’s achievable.

By Aevis

Metrolink would be fine if there was an inefficient bus service – but there is not ,we have this train running up the main road in Droylsden from Ancoats up to Audenshaw and to be blunt it’s a pain in the backside ,traffic control goes haywire when it’s around it’s coused accidents and slowed down through umpteen traffic lights everyone else . There was a lot of negativity when this line was being proposed but as usual the decision had already been made making all the discussions irrelative ,mind you if Tameside council was to build it it would only last a couple of years due to lack of upkeep -now there’s a thought ,it’s a pity this beyond its sell by date council sits back and looks and reflects on some of its rash and controversial decisions it keeps making ,back to the tram ,when there’s a good bus ,train ,taxi service available – the question is why??

By Brian.g

@ Anons

As stated in the article (and as we’ve all seen numerous times throughout Greater Manchester) the Metrolink will help encourage regeneration of Stalybridge. With better transport connections comes a better incentive for people to want to live in Stalybridge and development (including retail) will follow.

As someone else mentioned, it sounds like there is also potential for an extension to Glossop at at a later date.

It’s about linking to other destinations, not just Manchester city centre.

We all know the city region needs a radial route and the city centre routes all need moving underground though.

By Anonymous

What about a circle line connecting places such as Oldham, Stalybridge, Stockport, Sale……
Think big. The Overground in London does a similar job.

By Billy Two Rivers

Its pointless extending the metrolink route from Ashton-under-Lyne to Stalybridge as it wouldn’t pay for a start! As after 8pm there is hardly anyone on the 389/236/348 busses that go from ashton to Stalybridge and further afield as nobody is using the busses so why waste millions of pounds on a project that’s going to fail miserably!!!

By Justin O'brien

Tameside Council need to make this happen and maybe with a park and ride

By Steven Chambers