Rochdale here we come!

The latest Manchester Metrolink extension has now been given an official opening date with the news that the line between Shaw & Crompton and Rochdale Railway Station will open to passengers from Thursday 28th February – little over a week away. The full shadow running started operation on Monday 18th February and has been continuing all week and this has obviously not shown any problems so TfGM are confident enough to go public with the opening date. The first revenue earning service will depart Rochdale at 0559 and the first tram to Rochdale will be departing Victoria at 0608. Unlike the East Manchester Line there will be no free preview service for locals before opening.

The latest extension to the Oldham and Rochdale Line runs for 4.6 miles (7.4km if you prefer) and will serve the former railway stations at Newhey and Milnrow as well as two brand new stops at Kingsway and Newbold. Trams will initially run every 12 minutes between St Werburgh’s Road (on the South Manchester Line) and Rochdale and will exclusively use M5000s as the T68s and T68As are banned from operating on the Oldham and Rochdale Line.

Cllr Andrew Fender, Chair of the TfGM Committee, is understandably delighted by the news: “The Metrolink expansion continues apace and I am delighted that we are now only days away from services running to Rochdale for the first time. These new services will open up several new opportunities for communities along the line: for the very first time, people will be able to travel to and from the brand new stops at Kingsway and Newbold, and all on new trams and tracks. They will also be able to travel to and from the new stops at Monsall, Central Park, South Chadderton and Freehold that opened last year, and services will run through to Manchester city centre and on to Chorlton, calling at all stops in between. These are all new travel opportunities that weren’t available when this route operated as a traditional railway line. People in Rochdale will shortly have the best of both
worlds: inter-regional and local rail services, and local tram services. Rochdale is undergoing great change, and Metrolink’s arrival is a great symbol of a bright future.”

Tickets from Rochdale Railway Station to stops as far as Shaw & Crompton will cost £1.80 for a peak single and £2.60 for a peak return. A peak single from Rochdale Railway Station to all stops between Derker and Failsworth will be £2.10 and a peak return comes in at £3.60. Anyone wishing to travel into the City Centre (as far as Piccadilly and Deansgate-Castlefield) can get a peak single for £4.10 whilst a peak return is £6.20. Season tickets are also available which offer great value to travel across the Metrolink network.

Cllr Colin Lambert, Leader of Rochdale Borough Council, commented: “The arrival of the Metrolink at Rochdale Railway Station marks a significant point in the development of this exciting project. The launch of services from Rochdale Railway Station will benefit residents and businesses in the area and presents a major boost to the local economy, as well as making our borough more accessible to visitors, investors and developers. A great deal of hard work has already gone into project and I am grateful to the community for their patience during the unavoidable disruption. The good news is that the extension of the line continues at a pace and it won’t be long before we can all enjoy the benefits it will bring once it arrives in the heart of our new town centre next year.”

The opening of the extension to Rochdale is said to be halfway point of the major expansion of the Metrolink network and when it officially opens the network will be 43 miles (69 km). The next extension due to open will be the South Manchester Line to East Didsbury and this is currently expected to be in the summer of this year. Eventually the network will reach 59 miles (more than three times the size of the original Metrolink system which opened in 1992).

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29 Responses to Rochdale here we come!

  1. Mike7416 says:

    Yet another addition to GMPTEs white elephant built on a perfectly good bit of heavy rail that only benefits a small area of Greater Manchester. Whilst the heavy rail network in Greater Manchester continues to have trains in the shape of knackered old units and neglected and vandalised stations.

    • The Eye says:

      Wold that be the perfectly good rail line that had seen little investment for 30 years and was being deliberately run down!!

      GMPTE no longer exists!

      TfGM has no control over heavy rail rolling stock!

      Hell, why let facts get in the way of a good rant!!

  2. Ralph Oakes-Garnett says:

    Thats very good news. Five new stations, though the Kingsway one is a bit of a misnomer in respect of access from Kingsway! The road from Kingsway Industrial Park does not presently reach the station and it’s path is blocked by barriers.

    • Ken Walker says:

      It’s even more puzzling in that the stop called Kingsway is actually at The Cray estate (although as you say it is near Kingsway Business Park), and the one which is actually at Kingsway is called Newbold!

  3. Howie B says:

    The argument between light and heavy rail thunders on. Back in December 1966 I took a last journey by heavy rail from Central to Didsbury then went back into town for a last trip on a 215 trolleybus. It is exciting to think I can now cover both legs of that trip (as of summer 2013 and yes I’ll have to change trams to od it!) by M5000. Heavy rail has done South Manchester no favours in the last 46 years, the tracks were gone by 1969 and the wildlife took over. Ask anyone with property along the old South District line what heavy rail ever did for the value of their house or flat and what the advent of Metrolink is doing for them now. White elephant? Not in M20, sir.

  4. Phil Purdy says:

    The first tram will actually depart Victoria at 05:08.

    Although you will actually be able to board at Trafford Bar at 04:53.

    • Ralph Oakes-Garnett says:

      Thanks for that Phil.

    • Ken Walker says:

      That makes sense although the TfGM website posting also says 0608.
      What a difference from railway days when the first train to Rochdale via Oldham left Victoria at 0643! Not to mention Sunday mornings when the first train from Rochdale via Oldham left Rochdale at 0924 and then an hourly service with passengers sitting on each others shoulders!

  5. Ian Buck says:

    Great news! I wish TfL had the same vision as Greater Manchester, Tramlink is crying out for extension. Just look at West Croydon – Wimbledon to see how heavy rail branches can be revitalised by light rail. My last trip on the BR Oldham Loop was in an almost empty 142, my most recent was in a modern LRV that was packed in the middle of the day! White Elephant I think not.

  6. Phil Hart says:

    No way is it a white elephant. I use it every day. Park my car at Derker and travel to Market Street, Manchester.
    Travel time from Oldham to Manchester is half that of the slow buses. I never used the trains as they we very unreliable and expensive and they only ran every 30mins, sometimes hourly.

    My only criticism is that early mornings (up to 9am) they are packed and need a more frequent service.
    When the Oldham town centre line starts next year I will take the 5 minute walk to Westwood (this stop is nor nearly complete) and get the tram there. No need to bother about the car then either.

  7. DAODAO says:

    Conversion of suburban heavy rail to light rail, with penetration of the main urban centre by short lengths of street tramway, is likely to succeed, providing services are frequent, the alignment is direct and separated from other traffic, and the suburban stops serve a significant catchment population. Most of Croydon Tramlink and part of Metrolink meet these criteria, e.g. the original routes to Altrincham and Bury and the recently opened section to Oldham/Shaw. However, other sections of Metrolink do not, because they are street tramways (Eccles and Ashton lines), have stops with limited catchment and/or are roundabout routes (Airport, East Didsbury, Eccles and beyond Shaw to Rochdale). These are the sections that are potentially “white elephants”.

  8. Mike7416 says:

    Seem to have touched a nerve there. However my main point is that GMPTE or TFGM as they are now called seem to find millions to invest in Metrolink but not in heavy rail. I can understand Metrolink being built on abandoned rail formations such as the South District line which is being built and an ideal adandoned formation would be that from Eccles to Leigh via Tlyseley, which is instead to become a guided busway. What I feel is that TFGMs policies are misguided and need looking at again.

  9. Ken Walker says:

    The line beyond Shaw to Rochdale is potentially a white elephant IF you subscribe to the belief that everybody wants to travel to Manchester whereas peole are going to want to travel to intermediate stations. But in any case people at stations beyond Shaw will be likely to use the tram to Rochdale and the train forward. There is also the fact that people travelling into Manchester do not just go to Victoria station, and the fact that they will be able to go straight through into the city centre without having to change at Victoria and either walk or wait for a tram, will go some way to cancel out the additional journey time on the tram as opposed to the train.

  10. Peter says:

    Yes I’m very sure this tram network helps the likes of Oldham whose train service was taken away but in Rochdale what is the point? It’s going to be the same price as the train and take 3 times longer?!

    • Ken Walker says:

      As I said, not everybody wants to travel to Manchester! I would imagine people will want to travel to Oldham from Rochdale/Milnrow etc, (if and when Oldham town centre recovers from the damage done to businesses by the tram-related roadworks), and especially when the trams run through the town centre, whereas in railway days the thought of walking through the environs of Mumps station, using 2 grotty subways to get to and from the town was enough to put anybody off going into Oldham by train. It certainly did me!
      The journey time from Milnrow to Victoria for example will still be quicker than the direct bus which takes over an hour, and will also be as quick as driving to Rochdale to catch a train once driving time, parking time, and walking from the car park to the station are taken into account (and hoping that the train you have gone for hasn’t been cancelled). Once you are on the tram and (hopefully) on a seat, you’re settled until the journey to Manchester is complete with no connecting service to worry about. End to end journey time isn’t everything. But obviously people from Rochdale itself won’t use the tram to Manchester when the train as you say takes 15 minutes (except when the railway is disrupted that is). People from Rochdale didn’t travel to Manchester via Oldham when it was a train service but there were plenty of people on the train between Rochdale and Shaw, as I know from regular experience

  11. Citytillidie says:

    East Didsbury and Airport services a white elephant? Anyone tried the bus along Wilmslow Road and got stuck in the horrendous bottleneck at Rusholme? If I lived in Didsbury village and worked in town or was lucky enough to work at Media City, I would join the madding crowd on the platform at Olive Shapley tramstop and forget the 42 bus. If anything, these trams are more likely to suffer from overcrowding than running empty all day long. If the research done by GMPTE before commissioning these routes is right, we will be o n here complaining about overcrowding ere long.

    • DAODAO says:

      Much of the public transport usage along the Wilmslow Road corridor is to the hospitals and schools/universities situated south of the city centre, which are well served from West Didsbury and Didsbury village by the 41/42 buses respectively and from Parrs Wood by bus route 50 (formerly 40), but for which Metrolink will be of no use. As for Wythenshawe and the airport, the frequent buses along Princess Road will be quicker (although the 101 is no longer limited stop as it used to be years ago) and there is already a frequent fast direct heavy rail service from the city centre to the airport.

  12. Steve Richmond says:

    Worthwhile remembering that it’s 2014 when the line reaches Rochdale centre. In the meantime unless you want to catch heavy rail it’s not of much benefit, in my opinion.

    • freel07 says:

      But without the current section the final step into the town centre would look a bit daft wouldn’t it!

      • Ken Walker says:

        It’d be ok as a heritage tramway. Somewhere for LTT to run their trams?

        Seriously thouhj, judging by the amount of hassle the local councillor says he is getting from people in Milnrow area wanting to know when the line is going to open, I don’t think it will be a waste. Personally I hope the trams aren’t too busy on leaving Rochdale as when I get on at Milnrow heading for Oldham or Manchester I would like to be able to get a seat, thank you!

        • Steve Richmond says:

          Sorry ‘free 107’ I don’t understand the relevance of your point.

          However I should have made it clear that I meant ‘it’s not of much benefit if you are using the tram to get to Rochdale’. I havn’t heard that the 471 bus is to be rerouted back to serve the station nor have I heard of a free bus being provided to get you to Rochdale town centre.

          I am sure the Milnrow councillor is correct in his assertions. The question is where do the people of Milnrow want to travel to? If it’s Rochdale would you catch the tram which leaves you at the railway station, in splendid isolation, or the bus which drops you off in the town centre?

          • freel07 says:

            I guess once the town section is built there is a good chance they would use the tram. My point was that in order to get to the new Interchange the section between Shaw and the station had to be built first, the one depends on the other.

  13. Ken Walker says:

    I really don’t see the relevance of WHY people want to use the tram, as long as they want to use it. As far as using the bus to go into the town centre is concerned, as any local people will know, the disruption in both Oldham and Rochdale town centres caused by the never-ending roadworks means that the bus timetables for these areas are now in the local library, filed under Comedy.
    I would imagine that people travelling towards Yorkshire will travel to Rochdale by tram and forward by train, rather than go into Manchester. People wanting town centre shopping, I would imagine they will carry on doing what increasing numbers of Rochdalians have been doing over the last few years and go to towns such as Bury which actually have something to offer.
    The only part of the route whose value I would query is the Rochdale town centre extension.

    Our questions will be answered from Thursday 28th onwards. The value of the Shaw – Rochdale station extension will be decided when the people of the towns and villages along the route vote with their feet. I will now happily wait and see.

  14. Clifford Stead says:

    One item missing in the arguments about white elephants is the regeneration benefits of trams, taking the Eccles route as an example. The tram route through Salford Quays is slow but look at the transformation since trams started running. I gather the Droylsden route runs through a few derelict places, investment will follow the tram. My only concern for Metrolink is how the 94 trams will cope from 2016! passenger numbers will rocket!

    • Steve Richmond says:

      Let’s hope your point about regeneration is true Clifford, Rochdale certainly needs some tlc – surely the point in local politicians minds.

    • Ken Walker says:

      The same capacity problems arose after the original Metrolink lines to Bury and Altrincham opened in 1992 but no extra vehicles were ordered specifically to cope with the problem until the M5000 order. The only new trams in the meantime were the 6 T68As for the Eccles line in 2000. The problem now being as mentioned previously will be the difficulty in getting anyone to tender for building high-floor trams.

  15. Ken walker says:

    The Rochdale line kicked off on time this morning with 3016 doing the honours on the 0508 from Victoria and the 0559 from Rochdale. The big surprise was the T68s and T68As returned to Piccadilly station with a vengeance, with 1022, 1024, 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2006 being seen during the morning on services to MediaCity/Eccles and Altrincham. And they were using the new turn back facility at Sheffield Street.

  16. R Whistlecroft says:

    We went to rochdale today from wigan now the trams are running, when we got there we stood at the bus stop and waited ages, then saw a sign saying no buses, so we had to walk to town, as pensioners we find it ridiculous that there is no bus service from the station to town. We quite like rochdale but wont be returning, the set up is ridiculous. Sort your selfs out

    • Leyland Dave says:

      Are you blaming the Tramway for the lack of buses? They seem to get blamed for everything else that goes wrong in Manchester. Whatever You will come back and post due credit when the Rochdale town extension to the tramway opens wont you so you don’t need to transfer to the non-existent bus!

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