Ambitious plans for major expansion of tram and tram-train in Greater Manchester

This week has seen the release of Greater Manchester’s ambitious plans for the “city-region’s” future and tucked amongst the various documents is major plans to improve transport in the area. This will include further Metrolink extensions and also the start of tram-train services as the area tries to get 50% of all journeys on public transport, walking and cycling by 2040. The plan is very much long-term and it is probable that many of the projects mentioned in the document end up not going forward but it does show ambition and could really solidify Greater Manchester’s position as the tram and light rail capital of the UK!

As far as transport is concerned the plan is split into three:

* Those projects to be delivered in next 5 years

* Those projects where business cases will be developed in next 5 years

* Those projects which will have options developed for in next 5 years

The first category is very much a case of those projects which have already been announced with the Trafford Park extension, 27 additional trams and Metrolink capacity improvements (on the Bury-Altrincham, Shaw & Crompton-East Didsbury and Etihad Campus-Ashton-under-Lyne lines). In addition there are many other projects due to take place for other forms of transport which don’t come into the sights of this website.

It is the next two categories where things start to get interesting as new Metrolink lines plus tram-train services are discussed. It should very much be pointed out that there is no guarantee that any of these will take place but at the very least the ambition of Greater Manchester should be applauded.

So take a deep breath, and here are all the potential tram related projects which are due to have business cases developed in the next five years:

* New Metrolink stops at Elton Reservoir (Bury line) and Cop Road (Oldham & Rochdale line)

* Metrolink extensions to Davenport Green and Manchester Airport Terminal 2

* Improvement in frequency of Metrolink services between Piccadilly and Victoria

* Early development of “route alignments” for Metrolink extensions to Stalybridge, Port Salford and Stockport (or tram-train for the last)

* Tram-Train Pathfinder projects: Manchester Airport-Wilmslow and Altrincham-Hale

And then those projects which may have options developed in the next five years (most of these are longer term projects and need to be developed further first to see if feasible) include:

* New Metrolink stop at Sandhills (just out the city centre)

* Metrolink extensions to Port Salford/Salford Stadium, Stalybridge, Middleton, a link between MediaCityUK and Salford Crescent, Manchester Airport Western Leg

* Either Metrolink or Tram-Train lines between Rochdale and Bury, on the Atherton line, the CLC line to Warrington, Cornbrook to Manchester Airport via Timperley, Hazel Grove, Stockport to Manchester Airport, Marple line, Glossop line

The Draft Delivery Transport Plan does itself admit that much of what is mentioned above is not funded and that to help deliver “these ambitions…we will need a step change in funding to realise our full vision. The Delivery Plan has an important role in supporting Greater Manchester to achieve greater long-term certainty over transport funding. In particular, we want to establish a fully devolved, long-term infrastructure budget for Greater Manchester, as recommended in the National Infrastructure Commission’s recent National Infrastructure Assessment. We are encouraging Government to consider this through the current National Spending Review. The Delivery Plan also sets out the resources and powers we are asking for from Government, which includes a Greater Manchester Transport Fund 2 and greater powers over areas such as highway management, taxi and private hire vehicle licensing, the bus network, rail franchises and stations.”

Only time and lots of money will tell whether even a small amount of these plans will go-ahead but if they do Greater Manchester is likely to have a public transport network which will be the envy of the UK!

* To view the Draft Delivery Transport Plan 2020-2025 visit the Greater Manchester Combined Authority website.

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