Monday 3rd November certainly seems to have been a good day for Manchester Metrolink as not only has the Airport extension opened to the public but it has also seen confirmation of the Trafford Park extension as part of the deal to bring an elected Mayor to Greater Manchester. Chancellor George Osborne visited the area – and even found time to enjoy a ride on the Airport extension – to officially announce the new deal which will see the Mayor have power over not only transport policies but also social care, housing and Police budgets.
As far as transport is concerned the major news from this announcement is confirmation that the £350 million Metrolink extension to Trafford Park is now funded. Up to £900 million (dependent on economic performance) is now available for transport projects over 30 years and this will enable long term planning and a more co-ordinated transport strategy. Of note is that Greater Manchester will now be able to introduce a London style bus franchise system which should mean that a more integrated transport network will be able to operate as in London. The introduction of Oyster style tickets – getmethere – will also continue meaning passengers no longer have to purchase several tickets for one journey across several different modes of transport.
Chancellor George Osborne commented: “I am delighted to be able to mark the opening of the new Metrolink line to Manchester Airport over 12 months ahead of schedule. The network now covers over 92km and is a vital economic asset for Manchester. It is also great news that, thanks to the devolution deal I have agreed with Manchester today, there will be a further £350 million extension to Trafford which will provide significant additional benefits to the city. The Metrolink will come under the powers of the new Mayor, supporting an Oyster-style travelcard system that will make travelling on the network and all of Greater Manchester’s public transport simpler and easier. These are exactly the sort of transport improvements that will not only allow Manchester to prosper and thrive but also help turn our vision of a Northern Powerhouse economy into reality.”
Cllr Andrew Fender, Chair of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, said: “Today’s historic announcement marks nothing less than a new era for commuters in Greater Manchester, one in which they can look forward to the sort of seamless travel they may have experienced in London moving from the tube to bus. This deal will, subject to consultation, allow us to move to a model of bus franchising, similar to the system used in London, providing us with the ability to set bus routes, frequencies and fares for the benefit of the people of Greater Manchester. There is sound reasoning for adopting this approach, not only will bus passengers benefit from a truly integrated network, it will also help to support the continued economic growth of the region. The deal also unlocks access to very substantial amounts of transport funding – providing more certainty and the ability to plan ahead. Not only that, it means that we can move ahead with the construction of the Metrolink line through Trafford Park to the Trafford Centre, a scheme which will benefit thousands of people and many businesses in the area. This bold and pioneering step will not only support the further development of Greater Manchester’s economy, it will also have a very real and tangible positive affect on the lives of tens of thousands of people across Greater Manchester who will be able to access jobs and education more easily.”
The Trafford Park line is planned to leave the Eccles line shortly after Pomona and then travel via stops at Wharfside, Imperial War Museum, Village, Parkway, EventCity and Trafford Centre. A public consultation took place earlier this year and plans will now be progressed further ahead of construction and eventual opening.