Rochdale station subway re-opens after 36 years

Date published: 10 July 2015

The abandoned subway at Rochdale Train Station was re-opened today (Friday 10 July) after 36 years.

In attendance as the subway was re-opened at the official ceremony were members of Rochdale Council, National Rail and the rail group STORM.

The subway is a shortcut from the car park at the back of the station on Miall Street, to the station on Station Road, cutting out the 200-metre walk people previously had to do to access the station.

Councillor Richard Farnell, Leader of Rochdale Borough Council, said: “This fantastic heritage scheme, which links the free car park on Miall Street with Rochdale railway station, means that commuters and travellers can get about much more easily in a safe and pleasant environment.

“It will also create an attractive entry point to our borough, which will become increasingly important with the onset of the Northern Hub proposals to better connect us to the rest of the region.”

Councillor Andrew Fender, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) commissioner, said: “It is excellent news that the Miall Street underpass has been opened as it really brings a lot of benefits to both commuters and businesses in the surrounding area and will hopefully encourage more people to use public transport.

“I am delighted with the outcome. It was closed originally due to a general decline in the railway system and vandalism. But now, railways are more popular.

“We are hoping to run more trains, and there is a possibility of a third platform to be opened, although that has not been discussed in detail yet. When we do start to get more trains using our station, I’d eventually like to see some electric trains on our lines.”

Railway enthusiasts STORM put all of their hard work into campaigning for almost a decade for the re-opening of the subway, feeling it would be beneficial when travelling from the car park to the station.

Richard Greenwood, Chairman of STORM, said: “I think it is great. I often drive so it is easier for me. We have been pressing Northern Rail for years to re-open the subway. I have campaigned for at least ten years because it is convenient for everyone.”

Paul Spencer, Station Delivery Manager for Northern Rail, added: “It’s fantastic news for the local community as it would make the customer experience much better.”

Before work was done on the subway, the site was covered in rubble, vegetation and litter that had built up since it was closed in 1979, however once cleared, it became evident that most of the original station was still intact.

Project Manager Paul Spike from TFGM called representatives from Northern Rail and Network Rail to a meeting, along with John Gillighan, Senior Highways Engineer at Rochdale Borough Council and Paul Ambrose, from Rochdale Borough Council’s Planning Department, to inspect the site.

Even though the site was eerie-looking and untouched, with trees growing out of the stone flags, everyone called to the meeting saw potential in restoring a hidden piece of heritage.

Mr Gillighan said: “After 30 years there was lots of rubbish to clear but it is nice to see it all finished. We wanted to stop people from having to walk all the way around, and our next step is to create a better highway link on the road to the Park and Ride through Sarah Street.”

Lawrence Cheung from Network Rail said: "This scheme demonstrates the ongoing partnership work between Network Rail, TfGM and Northern Rail to deliver schemes for the benefit of passengers. The scheme retains the heritage of the original station whilst providing a safe passageway for passengers to the station."

Matthew Worman, Client and Stakeholder Manager for Northern Rail which manages Rochdale station said: “These significant improvements will undoubtedly enhance the overall experience for customers using the station, making it more appealing to both new and existing customers.”

There are now past photographs mounted on the wall of the new subway, including one of the Royal Visit from King George V and Queen Mary in 1913. These pictures were used as a guide during the restoration process.

Andy Jamieson, Principal Contractor of Jamieson Contracting, said: “The area was overgrown and derelict so it is satisfying to see it all changed and have involvement in people’s lives because it makes it easier and safer for them.

“It is interesting to see photos on the wall of the past and to know that it looks just as nice again.”

The project has been funded by TfGM, Rochdale Borough Council and Network Rail.

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