Transport revolution is on its way
Date published: 09 January 2019
Extending the smart motorway to M62 J20-J25 could be a reality by 2040
A revolution in how people travel to, from and within Rochdale is on its way.
New roads, motorway upgrades, train stations and Metrolink connections are all included in a radical transport plan announced this week.
Improvements to footpaths and cycleways, as well as a pioneering ‘tram-train’ pilot, are also mooted.
The radical strategy was launched in tandem with the reworked Greater Manchester Spatial Framework draft, which sets out a vision for the development of each borough over the next 20 years.
The Greater Manchester Transport Strategy 2040 is divided into three parts – projects on their way to completion over the next five years, schemes subject to business cases that could be delivered around 2025, and those that have the potential to become a reality by 2040.
Rochdale’s transport spokesman, Councillor Phil Burke, says the plan will bring ‘fantastic opportunities’ for jobs and business in Rochdale, as well as boosting residents’ quality of life.
He said: “We have always missed out and got second best here in Rochdale and it’s about time we got the best.
“It is great we have got priority now and people are talking and listening to our concerns and putting Rochdale on the map instead of being second-class citizens.”
Here are some of the improvements Rochdale in the pipeline for 2025 and beyond.
Five-Year Plan – projects already in the pipeline with secure funding:
New bus way from Manchester city centre to the Northern Gateway via Middleton and Heywood
The Northern Gateway site between junctions 18 and 19 of the M62 motorway, close to Heywood Distribution Park, is a major part of Rochdale’s plans for boosting jobs in the area .
It will boast 600,000 square metres of new employment space and bosses have earmarked it for a substantial amount high-end manufacturing linked to universities.
But they acknowledge quality public transport to the site will be essential and a new express bus corridor, linking to the city centre via Middleton and Heywood is included in the 2020-25 delivery plan.
Councillor Phil Burke said: “It’s fantastic we have got the opportunity to create thousands of new jobs for local people in the area, a massive boost to the economy, bringing people into Heywood and the surrounding area.”
Calder Valley line improvements
New services will be enabled by line speed and signalliung upgrades delivered by Network Rail.
Coun Burke said:”This is great news for rail users in Rochdale area we have campaigned for years to get a better service on this line. Trains are packed, you can’t get on them, they run late or don’t turn up at all – and overcrowding is a serious issue.
“People are paying a fortune for service and getting a shoddy one from Northern Rail and other operators.
“To get an improved line in this neck of the woods will be great for our people to get in and out of Manchester , it’s a massive boost we are crying out for.”
Mills Hill station upgrade
This work is set tol ‘maximise existing rail assets’ to provide better facilities for passenger – particularly those with limited mobility, such as the elderly and disabled.
Improved cycling and walking infrastructure
This includes imporoving footpaths and cycleways within the Castleton Local Centre Corridor.
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham’s Challenge fund for walking and cycling aims to to increase the number of short journeys (under 5km) made by bicycle in the area – part of a bid to ease congestion.
Coun Burke said: “It’s very important, people do want to cycle around our area and this is an opportunity to give them the cycle lanes they want. More and keep more people keep fit, it’s a golden opportunity to get more people healthy and on their bikes.”
He added that dedicated cycle lanes play an important part in ‘helping the health and wellbeing of the local community’.
South Heywood link road
This new 2.2km link road from J19 of the M62 will serve the South Heywood masterplan area, earmarked for 1,600 new home and 600,000 square metres of new employment space.
It should also ease congestion by removing much of the HGV traffic which clogs up Heywood’s roads, as well as slashing journey times for hauliers travelling from Yorkshire and the east of the country.
Beyond 2025 – ‘potential plans’ without secured funding:
New Metrolink extension to Middleton
A new tram line will connect Middleton with Manchester city centre.
The plan to link the town via the Bowker Vale tram stop has been included in the transport strategy following years of lobbing by council bosses.
Further funding for development and delivery of the scheme still needs to be secured – and the transport plan only commits to ‘developing options’ for it by 2025.
Rochdale Borough officials have hailed its inclusion in the region’s transport strategy as a major step forward.
Councillor Phil Burke, cabinet member for transport, said: “I am absolutely thrilled that we have been able to persuade people that a tram link to Middleton should be created.
“Middleton is a growing town and it’s becoming increasingly popular with people who work in the city centre. That’s why it’s so important to have good public transport connections.”
He added: “We have been waiting a long time for this. We have got south Manchester covered by Metrolink, but we’ve always missed out in north Manchester , particularly in Middleton.”
Council leader Allen Brett, who has described the link as ‘a big priority’ for the borough, also spoke of his delight.
He said: ”When you look at the current network it makes perfect sense for Middleton to be joined to it. In the long-term this will alleviate pressure on already congested roads, reduce pollution and make commuting into the city centre for Middleton’s residents much easier than it is at present.”
There is also the possibility Rochdale could pilot a tram-train scheme which could see the Metrolink services branch off on to the main rail line and continue via Rochdale train station on to Castleton and Heywood.
Councillor Burke added: “This is a fantastic opportunity to trial the tram train in our local area.
“It would be the first opportunity for Metrolink to trial it and It’s fantastic it’s coming to the north of Greater Manchester.
“We have always missed out on things and such as transport. It’s the south side that gets the fantastic buses, Metrolink and trains. We have always missed out with poor train services and poor and shabby bus services. This is an opportunity to really put the north side on the map.”
New park and ride spaces at Rochdale train station
This scheme is not yet funded, but is in keeping with the strategy’s aim of getting more people out of their cars and on to public transport.
New train station at Slattocks
This would link into the spatial framework;s Stakehill development site, proposed for 900 new homes and 100,000 square metresof employment site.
Bosses say the scale of the development offers the opportunity for ‘significant public transport improvements’ to enhance travel options for both existing residents and workers.
This includes the potential to deliver a new rail station at Slattocks, on the Calder Valley line , together with a park and ride facility.
TfGM bosses are continuing to look into the possibility of the new station.
M62 J20-J25 smart motorway
This would see improvements on the M62 from Junction 20 at Rochdale through Milnrow, Shaw and on to Yorkshire.
Smart motorways provide increased road capacity more quickly and at less cost than traditional road widening schemes.
They remain within current motorway boundaries, reducing the impact on the surrounding environment.
Highways England chiefs expect work on the scheme – that could cost up to £392m – to begin before the end of March next year.
Nick Statham, Local Democracy Reporter
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