Transport for Greater Manchester has submitted its “case for change” to the Department for Transport in a bid to bring rail stations under local control. The move would unlock £400m of investment in the next 20 years.
The submission was made on behalf of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, in line with the 2014 devolution agreement and 2040 strategic vision for transport to drive economic growth and regeneration.
TfGM said: “The current model of station ownership does not allow for long-term customer focus and planning and stations and their facilities have not evolved in line with customer expectations. This is due to the short length nature of current rail franchise contracts with funding mechanisms of up to no more than nine years. If approved, over £400m, combined from existing funding streams and additional Greater Manchester investment, would be invested in local stations over the next two decades, with potential to use related land assets for additional housing, commercial development and improved car parking.”
The detailed business case submitted recommends the wholesale transfer of station ownership and management from Network Rail and train operators to Greater Manchester as the best solution to help stations realise their full potential.
TfGM hopes to get agreement from Government before the summer, following which 94 local rail stations could transfer to Greater Manchester custodianship in the next two to three years, with city centre Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Victoria and Oxford Road mainline stations to follow at a later date.
Jon Lamonte, TfGM’s Chief Executive, said: “The recent redevelopment of Irlam rail station has already showcased how our vision can become a reality, demonstrating just what can be achieved when local stations realise their full social and economic potential.”
Irlam station was reborn thanks to a local campaign led and partly funded by Talk Talk founder Neil McArthur, who was born in Irlam.