Metrolink expansion has seen major benefits for local communities – new report

A new report – conducted using in-house Transport for Greater Manchester resources along with external specialists – has said that the major expansion of the Metrolink network has helped to improve residents access to employment, education and healthcare as well as contributing to a reduction in car journeys and the associated improved air quality this brings.

These findings have come from a detailed monitoring and evaluation report into the Phase 3 expansion of Metrolink which saw new lines open to Rochdale, Ashton-under-Lyne, East Didsbury and Manchester Airport between 2010 and 2015.

The main findings are:

  • The new lines have removed 38.8 million car kilometres per year from the roads. This has helped to contribute to Greater Manchester’s goal of 50% of all journeys being made by public transport and active travel by 2040.
  • This has contributed to a reduction in carbon emissions, saving 6.700 tonnes of CO2 in 2019/20 – helping to accelerate the city-region commitment to be carbon neutral by 2038.
  • A major uplift in usage is possible when moving from a largely neglected and low-level rail service to a high-quality rapid transit system. For 2019/20 6,125,000 trips were estimated to have been made on the Rochdale via Oldham line, representing an increase by a factor of 5.4 relative to the 2008/9 heavy rail figure (1,150,000).
  • Based on modelling there has been a significant improvement in public transport access to employment, further education and healthcare – an improvement that is particularly noticeable for the more deprived communities of Greater Manchester. The analysis shows that public door to door access has improved for the following proportions of the Greater Manchester population:
    • 2% for employment (30.5% of the 10% most deprived communities)
    • 8% for further education (27.7%)
    • 85% for healthcare (29.5%)

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, is unsurprisingly delighted with the results of the report: “Metrolink is a great example of what we can achieve when we have a locally run system that is accountable to, and delivered in the best interests of, our local communities.  The study demonstrates the benefits Metrolink brings at both a regional and local level and is a good example of the Our Network vision in action: improving people’s quality of life, connecting communities, opening opportunity and revitalising our town centres and local economies, whilst making neighbourhoods cleaner, greener and healthier.  We have huge ambitions for our city-region and Metrolink will be extremely important as we build back better from the pandemic and make Greater Manchester the best place to grow up, get on and get old.”

Head of Metrolink at TfGM, Danny Vaughan, added: “I am immensely proud of Metrolink and everything it represents. It is the beating heart of our transport network and is as iconic to Mancunians as the Tube is to Londoners.  Our expansion programme has been a huge success and unrivalled in the light rail industry in terms of its size and scale of growth and I’d like to thank everyone who has played a part.  We have equally ambitious plans for the future, but our immediate focus is on supporting the region’s recovery.  How and when people work is going to be fundamentally different but we will adapt to this changing demand to ensure people can continue to travel with us safely and confidently to access jobs, retail and leisure opportunities over the coming weeks and months.”

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