Official update given on Metrolink extension beyond Oldham Mumps

After our brief update last week on the latest situation regarding testing beyond Oldham Mumps on the Manchester Metrolink extension to Rochdale, Transport for Greater Manchester have now given an official update on what is going on with a suggestion that passengers may be able to board a tram as far as Shaw & Compton from early in 2013.

As we mentioned last week the first tram had been used on clearance tests as far as Shaw & Compton and Oldham Councillors have now been invited to check on the progress of the line.

Cllr Dave Hibbert, Oldham Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport and Planning, said: “The sight of trams crossing Mumps is a landmark, not just for this project, but for the wider changing face of Oldham and the regeneration of the town centre. It’s great to see the infrastructure for this line now in place. It’s vital now that the right testing takes place to ensure the safety and reliability of the service.”

It is now planned that sometime early in the new year – providing there is a successful period of commissioning and testing – services will be extended the short distance from Oldham Mumps to Derker and Shaw & Compton stops – ahead of the full opening through to Rochdale Railway Station a few months later. It has originally been thought that the next opening on the Oldham and Rochdale line would be the full length to Rochdale but thoughts have obviously changed since then.

Cllr Andrew Fender, Chair of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, said: “The  progress we’re now making on the extension to Shaw & Crompton and Rochdale Rail  Station is positive and welcome and within the timescales we’ve been working to. The sight
of the first tram crossing Oldham Mumps was an historic moment and a sign of things to come. That said, there are still some significant challenges involved, not least a very thorough period of testing and commissioning – and the weather conditions will also be a factor. So the work in the coming weeks and months will be crucial to maintain the programme so that people in Derker and Shaw & Crompton can benefit from the arrival of Metrolink early in the New Year.”

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4 Responses to Official update given on Metrolink extension beyond Oldham Mumps

  1. Ken walker says:

    The progress reports on this in the media continue to be as contradictory and confusing as ever. The current issue of the Rochdale Observer newspaper reports, all in the same article, “…trams are expected to start carrying passengers to and from Rochdale station from February” before repeating that the line will open to Shaw first with the Rochdale section opening “a few months later”. Whether this is due to inept journalism or contradictory information from TfGM is impossible to tell, although this journalist has at least correctly reported that the line to Rochdale was scheduled originally to open in Spring 2012, whereas those in various other papers keep wrongly saying it was due to open in summer. From Coun. Fender’s comments that the testing is “within the timescales we’ve been working to” I can only assume it is the timescale which states “it’ll be finished when it’s finished” as the opening goes further back every time he mentions it. The overrun on this project is in the region of 12 months or more, it is unbelievable that so-called professionals have got themselves into as big a mess as this.

    • Freel07 says:

      A bit unfair Ken.

      Yes there has been confused reporting in most of the local press. The so called major local rag, the MEN, is now blatantly anti Metrolink and whips up every negative story it can and the other smaller papers continue to mis quote what they are told.

      The truth is yes the project is delayed. Partly this is due to the new Tram Management System and these delays have been covered fully. Another delay for the Oldham Rochdale project has been the change to the design at Mumps which was brought about by the approval sooner than anticipated of the Oldham Town Centre route. Originally it was envisaged that the Phase 3A route up through Werneth and Central Tunnels would have to last for a longer period and the viaduct at Mumps was to be retained. The early approval of the town route caused a rethink and it was decided to amend the Mumps design to remove the viaduct and bring the temporary line down to street level to simplify the integration of the town route. This delayed the construction at Mumps by some months but is something that will bring later benefits. TMS for the single line at Rochdale accounts for another source of delay and is regrettable.

      • Ken walker says:

        But the change of plan at Mumps has never been mentioned as a cause of delay by TfGM as far as I am aware. If they had said at the outset that the change of plan would add 12 months to the opening date people might have been able to accept it. Instead of which the expected opening date keeps dropping back bit by bit. As far as the TMS is concerned it is unbelievable that the system was bought in without making sure it was compatible with 20 year old software. After all very few people would buy Windows 7 software and just assume it would work on a computer running Windows 95. When the project started people living in the affected areas were promised regular updates, but these stopped when the plans started falling behind, all of this does little to inspire confidence in the product.

  2. Pete C says:

    It’s quite common for large projects to over-run in respect of time for all sorts of reasons, but no doubt it will eventually open and then all this inconvenience/frustration will soon be forgotten.