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TfGM 2040 plan talks network integration and floats tram-train fix

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has unveiled its much-anticipated Transport Strategy 2040, which outlines how the authority will focus on creating an integrated, sustainable and co-ordinated transport system in the region – with all types of travel considered.

The strategy’s release today follows on from an extensive public consultation which received nearly 1,800 responses, with feedback having been reflected in the final document.

Across rail, TfGM laid out plans to combine the existing network with bus and tram facilities, ensuring these are all planned and delivered in a “much more integrated way to minimise the time and cost penalties of changing between services”.

“Throughout this strategy, we will stop viewing different modes of transport as separate networks, with individual asset management, service planning, and fare and ticketing regimes, and instead plan our transport system as a single, highly-connected entity that all customers can move through seamlessly,” the document said.

“This will allow us to prioritise transport improvements more effectively, based on the needs of different travel markets, and to save valuable resources by minimising duplication of expenditure and activity across different modes.

“A network approach will also enable us to meet a much wider variety of travel demands, facilitating easier interchange at key nodes on our transport network and, along with improved services, enabling people to make orbital, as well as radial, movement much more easily.”

Further down, the document emphasised the importance of securing a well-maintained and resilient network, since the economic performance of the city depends on its functionality. All assets – rail lines, signals, interchanges, roads or even bus stops and cycle routes – need to be well maintained “both to keep them in a safe and useable condition and to avoid the cost of replacing them unnecessarily”.

“On the rail-based network, a lack of spare capacity and alternative routes means that the impact of incidents is all the more disruptive,” TfGM added. “We will work to identify the locations where additional capacity could be beneficial in helping the network to recover from major incidents. The Metrolink Second City Crossing will be beneficial in this respect, providing an alternative route across the city centre.”

And when rail or tram services are unavailable due to a fault or engineering works, there must be well-publicised alternatives available, such as flexible ticketing or replacement services, the strategy said.

Rapid transit: using a tram-train

The document also covered goals related to rapid transit, such as Metrolink, which TfGM argues has been “a critical component in supporting economic growth and housing market renewal” in Greater Manchester. Going forward, TfGM will aim to expand the coverage and capacity of its rapid transit network and deliver at least a 15-minute service frequency on all key rail-based corridors into the city centre throughout the day.

Priorities for expanding coverage and capacity include providing extra cross-city capacity for existing and future rail services, potentially by tunnelling; converting the suburban rail lines serving the regional centre to metro-style services, which can achieve better outcomes through track-sharing between light and heavy services; and ensuring excellent connections with Northern Powerhouse and HS2 rail services via a network hub at Piccadilly.

But over the period to 2040, it will also be taking a “much broader view” of rapid transit, focusing on the most appropriate and integrated network to deliver the needs of different parts of the city-region.

“Changes in rapid transit technology and operating practices mean that the traditional boundaries between heavy and light rail and bus-based systems will become increasingly blurred,” the strategy read. “That enables us to focus on providing the right rapid transit system to meet existing and future travel markets in Greater Manchester and to support significant population and economic growth.

“In the medium term, tram-train offers the potential to deliver metro services to more areas without building new rail lines. A tram-train approach can help to improve access to the core of the city centre at peak and off-peak times, while also releasing valuable capacity on the heavy rail network.”

In the longer term, TfGM predicts that Manchester Airport has the potential to become a second rapid transit hub in the region. It will continue to explore opportunities for delivering more orbital rapid transit services via the airport over the coming months and years.

Today’s final strategy comes just a few months after TfGM’s renewed 10-year investment blueprint – created to align with the 2040 plan – which was updated in June last year to acknowledge some unforeseen changes since its previous rail plan.


Andrew Gwilt   09/02/2017 at 03:13

Tram-Trains could be the next big thing if Manchester wants the Tram-Train scheme to happen which could see a Tram-Train extension to Stockport that could happen some time in the near future.

David   11/02/2017 at 16:44

Tram-trains don't work, Andrew. Where's the Sheffield extension.

Andrew Gwilt   11/02/2017 at 21:20

Very true David.

Mike   13/02/2017 at 13:17

The Oxford Road Corridor would benefit greatly from a Metrolink extension. Possibly by tunnelling, if there was the money available.

Andrew JG   14/02/2017 at 00:42

Same could be said if the extension to Stockport could happen if there is enough money to extend the Manchester Metrolink to Stockport and surrounding areas in Southeast Greater Manchester including the loop extension to Manchester Airport via Wythenshaw Town Centre.

TJ   22/02/2017 at 16:46

David, tram trains work fine if they have tracks to run on. The main lesson from Sheffield is that good project management and Network Rail are too often mutually exclusive.

David   25/02/2017 at 11:03

So why are the Class 399s not operating on the existing Supertram network yet?

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