Monday, July 15, 2024

Greater Manchester’s transport revolution already happening, Mayor says

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Greater Manchester is already undergoing a “transport revolution”, metro mayor Andy Burnham has said, as he announced a major expansion of the Bee Network.

He has promised to enlarge the tram system, bring eight train lines into the Bee Network by 2028 and build two new railway stations at Cheadle and Golborne.

Mr Burnham also floated plans for future underground transport in the region.

He reiterated his vision to create a London-style transport system with fully contactless tap in and tap out payments by March next year.

Mr Burnham told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “We’re not on the cusp of a transport revolution, we’re already in it, it’s happening.”

Parts of the bus network have already been brought back under local control, with the whole system due to be locally-regulated within six months.

Mr Burnham said: “The yellow bus revolution is there, not for everyone in Greater Manchester to see yet, but it’s getting close and we’re confirming today that it will come to everywhere on 5 January – everybody will be part of the revolution at that point.

“By March, we’re saying we will have a fully contactless tap-in tap-out system.”

The business cases for new trams, as well as tram-train lines, are being developed as a priority, Mr Burnham said.

There are plans to bring eight existing railway lines in the region under local control by 2028.

They include:

  • Wigan via Bolton
  • Wigan via Atherton
  • Wigan via Golborne
  • Manchester Airport
  • Alderley Edge
  • Buxton via Stockport
  • Glossop
  • Hadfield and Rose Hill Marple via Guide Bridge
  • Ashton-under-Lyne and Stalybridge
  • Rochdale

Mr Burnham said the plans he was developing with the rail industry were “almost like doubling the size of Metrolink without having to build a new line”.

Mr Burnham said there would be a “hopper fare” on the tap-in tap-out system, allowing people to use as many Bee Network buses as they needed to for one hour, without extra charge.

By January, when the bus franchising is completed, there will be cheaper fares for seven-day and 28-day passes and there are plans for a 12-month pass which residents can pay off weekly.

That will be capped at £2 for adults and £1 for children and concessions – the same price as existing single tickets.

A date has yet to be announced for work on the new Metrolink lines to Stockport, Heywood and Middleton with a preparation of a business case for expanding it to Bolton.

Mr Burnham said the region would have to “go underground” by the middle of the century to ensure its growth continued.

That would be done through tunnelling and creating underground “rapid transit” travel networks, “going beyond the Bee Network”, he said.

A Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) official said plans for an underground network were in the “early days” but the proposal “needs to be kept open.”

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