Oldham Metrolink to arrive earlier than expected

Oldham's new town centre Metrolink line is on course to open ahead of schedule following a change to the dates for the redevelopment of Network Rail's Manchester Victoria station and tram stop.

The Oldham town centre line has four new stops: Westwood, Oldham King Street, Oldham Central and Oldham Mumps, with the latter integrating tram and bus services and providing a new, free park & ride site for Metrolink passengers.

It had been scheduled to open in spring 2014 but is now expected to open early in the new year.

The early opening is possible because the redevelopment work at Manchester Victoria station and tram stop, and the associated Metrolink service changes, has been rescheduled from January to the end of February/early March.

This allows the diversion of the temporary Oldham-Rochdale line to the new Oldham town centre route to be done beforehand, rather than after.

Diverting the line will require a week-long closure of the existing line between Central Park and Rochdale Railway Station but will be followed immediately by the launch of the town centre line into passenger service.

More details on the timing of the closure, the accompanying replacement bus services and the actual launch date for the town centre line will be provided closer to the time.

Meanwhile, Rochdale's £11.5m transport interchange opened this weekend.

Rochdale InterchangeBuilt on Smith Street next to the old bus station, it will provide enhanced levels of facilities and improved safety and security for bus passengers and will link directly with the new Metrolink extension, due to be completed by Spring 2014. It replaces the town's old bus station, which was built in 1978.

The new facility is the first transport interchange in Europe to have an integrated hydropower source, thanks to a hydroelectric plant part-funded by the Ticket to Kyoto carbon reduction investment project.

The scheme, which was part-funded by the Department for Transport and built by Kier Construction, is part of the wider £250m redevelopment of Rochdale town centre, which includes the construction of Number One Riverside, the new Metrolink line and a £100m new retail and leisure development.

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