Greater Manchester Our Network launched – but is there anything new for Metrolink?

The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has launched a ten year plan to create an “integrated, modern and accessible public transport system” in the region. Under the umbrella “Our Network” Mr Burnham wants to see a London-style integrated transport system for Greater Manchester but in reality, and as so often seems to be the case with these big political announcements, for Metrolink it seems to be a re-announcement of previously announced projects. The main change would appear to be the move towards a completely integrated network with Metrolink just a part of this.

Taking Metrolink in isolation “Our Network” mentions the opening of the Trafford Park extension in early 2020 and the delivery of 27 new trams which will start to arrive in early 2020. So far, so already under construction so nothing new there. There will also be the launch of contactless payments on Metrolink soon (again this has already been mentioned and there is no specific date given). There is planned to be an increase in park and ride capacity (nearly 1,000 new spaces by the end of 2020) and the exploration of further expansion. Specific lines mentioned are completion of the Airport loop and of lines to Port Salford and Middleton. These lines were recently unveiled as part of the 2040 Transport Strategy so it would appear that as far as Metrolink is concerned there is nothing new as part of “Our Network”.

Tram-Train is also mentioned with pathfinder studies due to take place in conjunction with the Department for Transport. These would be Oldham to Heywood, Manchester City Centre to Hale and Wilmslow to Manchester Airport via Styal.

The main part of this announcement seems to be dedicated to buses in the region with the idea being that routes are franchised out. This will make use of the new powers under the Bus Services Act 2018 and Greater Manchester will be the first region to test the legislation.

As well as the announcement of these projects Mr Burnham has also called on the government to release both the required funding and powers to deliver everything that is wanted and to close the gap in transport funding between the north and the south.

Speaking at the launch Mr Burham said: “Our current public transport system is fragmented and unreliable, with often confusing ticketing and passenger information. A truly integrated transport network has the potential to transform Greater Manchester. By allowing people to easily and quickly move around our city-region we can unlock growth, cut congestion and air pollution and enable our residents to lead fulfilling and rewarding lives. That is why today I have launched Our Network, a vision for a cohesive and seamless single system that brings together all the different ways people travel in our city-region. An important part of this is reforming our bus market. We’ve reached a key milestone with the completion of the assessment into the future of Greater Manchester’s bus market, which recommends franchising as its preferred option and to be considered further by the GMCA. We’re the first city-region seeking to make use of the new powers under the Bus Services Act and the first to test this legislation – so are leading the way nationally in this regard. Other vital parts of our integrated transport network will include more trams, a new bike hire scheme, free bus travel for 16-to-18-year olds, contactless payment on Metrolink, expanded Park and Ride, pathfinder tram-train projects and setting out our ambition for GM Rail. To achieve our full transport ambition, Greater Manchester needs the infrastructure and the necessary political powers. For too long, central government has over promised and under delivered when it comes to the North. If the next government is serious about closing the North-South divide, a critical step forward will be empowering us with the necessary powers and funding to improve our transport. I will be making this case strongly in the next Spending Review on behalf of the people and businesses of Greater Manchester.”

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2 Responses to Greater Manchester Our Network launched – but is there anything new for Metrolink?

  1. TBird-Frank says:

    Waffle waffle waffle – but action???

    I’ll not hold my breath.

  2. Nigel Pennick says:

    All the investment over the years in Metrolink, the Ordsall Chord and electrifying heavy rail lines and Andy Burnham still likes to play the ‘hard done by’ card. Other UK cities would love to have the investment Manchester gets. Does he intend to convert the heaviest-used bus routes to tramway operation, or non-emitting trolleybuses at least? Getting rid of diesel buses would assist in getting on-street emissions down.

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