Light rail Metrolink tram in the city center of Manchester, UK. Via Istock

Manchester transport devolution deal to deliver London-styled integrated network

In a transformative new devolution deal with the UK government, Transport for Greater Manchester will gain newfound authority and influence over regional rail services within the Bee Network.

The Bee Network will now be an integrated transport system, akin to that of London, seeing the integration of bus, Metrolink, rail and cycle hire services under the guidance of one dynamic body. This will result in improved services, simpler fares and integrated ticketing to improve the customer experience.

With bus franchise deals set to be under public control in Bolton, Wigan and parts of Bury and Salford from September, Greater Manchester’s latest devolution deal will also enable full integration of local rail services into the Bee Network by 2030.

This development will include a London styled touch-in/touch-out integrated ticketing across bus, Metrolink and rail services, with pilots for integrated fares and ticketing being agreed upon by the end of the year.

Transport Commissioner, Vernon Everitt, said:

“The integrated Bee Network will transform how people move around our growing city-region and radically improve what it is like to do business here for generations to come. Better rail services are critical elements in delivering this.

“We are supportive of rail reform under Great British Railways (GBR) and I very much welcome this Trailblazer Deal. It provides a firm foundation for effective partnership working with GBR with clear initial actions to enable full integration of local rail services into the Bee Network by 2030.”

Stemming from this new deal, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) will have a greater influence and authority over station developments, services and strategic infrastructure investment through the creation of the North West Regional Business Unit and GM Rail Board.

This new deal will improve the overall transport performances in and around Manchester through intensified local scrutiny, ensuring the best experience for members of the public as they traverse the network.

The deal also commits the government and GMCA to identify the specific legal powers needed for TfGM to effectively tackle anti-social behaviour and fare evasion on the bus network.

Andrew Haines, Great British Railways Transition Team Lead, said:

“To create a simpler and better railway for everyone in Britain, the railway must be much closer and more responsive to the needs of customers and local communities. This requires the creation of a new guiding mind which can ensure the railway fulfils its potential as a catalyst for growth and supports local ambitions for effective and reliable connectivity.

“We have been working together with Transport for Greater Manchester for some time and it is pleasing to see this collaborative work come to fruition with the announcement of this trailblazer devolution deal. We look forward to continuing to work closely with TfGM to deliver a railway that works better for passengers and supports the delivery of the Bee Network.”

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