New map shows blueprint for Metrolink expansion around Greater Manchester

Date published: 10 July 2024

Metrolink lines to Middleton, Heywood and Stockport are included in new plans outlining options to expand the network.

The proposed new tram lines are part of a Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) blueprint showing how the network could grow in future.

In June, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham confirmed there will be new tram links connecting to the three towns.

The extension plans include the option of taking trams to Middleton, with tram-train lines linking Bury, Heywood, Rochdale, and Oldham around the Atom Valley business site.

The new plans also state the need for ‘building a business case for Bolton working with government, and complementary priorities.’

A Metrolink expansion to Stockport has been on the cards for years and appeared to move closer in March, when the new Stockport Transport Interchange opened.

The new map outlining the potential future of the network could see the East Didsbury line link to Stockport town centre.

Mr Burnham has previously said Stockport’s new interchange is “Metrolink ready” and that a business case for expanding the network is being put together.

There are also options to expand the tram network in Salford, with ‘1.5km of new construction’ needed to link Salford Quays and Salford Crescent, and further Metrolink lines being considered on the Trafford Park line to Salford Community Stadium and Port Salford.

The GMCA plans will see local train services brought into the Bee Network by 2028, with work to bring buses under local control taking place until 2025.

Eight ‘priority corridors’ have been earmarked to kickstart railway integration, involving existing lines in Wigan, Manchester Airport, Stockport, Ashton-under-Lyne, Rochdale, and others.

There are also 15 travel networks included as part of plans to grow Greater Manchester’s ‘rapid transit system’ – providing fast and frequent services for residents such as trains, trams, and buses.

Councillor Neil Emmott, leader of Rochdale Borough Council, said: “I’m delighted to see the mayor prioritising this investment into Heywood and Middleton; two very important areas which have suffered from chronic underinvestment in their public transport infrastructure for a number of years.

“Boroughs like Rochdale, in the north of Greater Manchester, still don’t enjoy the same level of economic prosperity as those in the south of the conurbation, and substantially better public transport infrastructure will go a long way towards addressing this imbalance.

“The need to accelerate this transport revolution is even more acute now, given the development of Atom Valley, the largest growth opportunity in Greater Manchester.

"This transformative project to bring millions of pounds of investment and thousands of advanced manufacturing jobs into the borough will only increase the strategic importance of areas like Heywood and Middleton to the economy of the wider region and the country as a whole.

“That’s why it’s vital that we have world class transport infrastructure to match our world class ambitions for growth.”

Declan Carey, Local Democracy Reporter

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