Transport Secretary backs Metrolink expansion – in words anyway

Chris Grayling, the much criticised Transport Secretary, has backed plans to expand Manchester Metrolink (as revealed as part of the Mayor of Greater Manchester’s recent long-term transport strategy) in a visit to the region. A share commitment between the Department for Transport, Network Rail and Transport for Greater Manchester could see a range of proposals approved for expansion plus the chance for a greater degree of local control of transport.

Mr Grayling commented: “Metrolink has been transformative for Greater Manchester and I want to see the network expand. A Greater Manchester tram-train also has the potential to seamlessly integrate our existing rail and tram tracks and services. We will work closely to explore proposals which would see Transport for Greater Manchester running more services, underlining our belief in greater local control.”

As we reported earlier this month the Mayor’s Draft Delivery Transport Plan has a number of ambitious plans for improving transport in the region – with the ambition that 50% of all journeys by 2040 are made on public transport, walking and cycling – including several extensions to both the conventional Metrolink network as well as exploring the possibility of the first Tram-Train services in the Greater Manchester area. Many of the proposals are only at the very early stages and no funding is currently available so this apparent backing of central government does give a little hope that at least some of the plans may end up going ahead.

Andy Burnham, Greater Manchester Mayor, said: “Greater Manchester is a growing city-region, but our transport network and infrastructure is holding us back. The people of Greater Manchester deserve a transport system that works for us both now and in the future. Greater Manchester leaders recently shared our vision for the future of the city-region including our plan for jobs, homes and growth. Bringing innovative tram-train to Greater Manchester with greater local control and better integration of our transport system is a key part of this vision and I’m pleased that the government supports this ambition.”

On a visit to the Metrolink Trafford Park extension Wharfside stop, Mr Grayling also underlined the importance of close collaboration with the Mayor to deliver HS2, Northern Powerhouse Rail and bus reform.

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