TfGM submits innovative plans to take control of 94 GM stations
Plans to devolve powers for station ownership to Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) from Network Rail (NR) and train operators were today submitted to the DfT.
The proposals submitted by TfGM, called ‘Case for Change’, will look to bring regional accountability to Manchester by securing investment for the region and putting rail stations under local control.
In the detailed plans, TfGM set out their ambition to enable local stations to act as community hubs that can offer better integration from rail services into the wider transport network, as well as act as a “catalyst” for regeneration and social enterprise in the region.
Following an ‘in-principle’ agreement being reached with the government by summer this year, the plans could see 94 local rail stations transferred to Greater Manchester custodianship over the next two to three years, with the city centre stations Piccadilly, Victoria and Oxford Road to follow suit soon after.
The latest plans follow news announced by Transport for North last week that transport secretary Chris Grayling was publicly supporting its proposal to become England’s first sub-national rail body – another move designed to transfer power to the north.
Tony Lloyd, interim Greater Manchester mayor, said: “That many of Greater Manchester’s rail stations did not meet the expectations of the travelling public.
He said: “Stations have lost their place in the community, more than half lack step-free access, and some can be intimidating to use, particularly at night. I believe it is important that our transport assets do not just meet, but exceed the demands of users. The case for change is clear.”
Lloyd went on to say that it was hoped that stations could be opened up to give communities access to jobs, housing and leisure.
“Our ‘Case for Change’ plan offers a long-term approach to investment and growth that our industry partners have simply been unable to deliver under the constraints of the current system. It makes financial sense, benefits local communities and puts passengers first,” he stated.
“Crucially, these proposals support our 2040 transport strategy for an integrated transport network, which has received widespread support from local residents, businesses and organisations.
“We will work with the government and support where we can to ensure a quick decision is made - we want to start delivering change as soon as possible. This is an exciting opportunity to make a real difference for local residents and passengers.”
Jon Lamonte, TfGM’s chief executive, also pressed the need for change in the Greater Manchester area.
“Under the current system, Greater Manchester’s rail stations have not developed in line with customer expectations,” Lamonte commented.
He also described the plans as “an innovative approach” that that would transform local stations into transport hubs that are “well-used, offer a pleasant travel experience and improve quality of life by offering a useful asset for the local community”.
“The recent redevelopment of Irlam rail station has already showcased how our vision can become a reality, demonstrating just what can be achieved when local stations realise their full social and economic potential,” he argued.
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