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Reporter: Lucy Kenderdine
Date online: 27 January 2014

Metrolink finally enters town centre

TRAMS are now up and running through Oldham town centre, marking the end of years of disruption and the start of a bright future for the town.

Excited passengers from Oldham and beyond braved wind, rain and sleet to board the Metrolink tram shortly after 5am to be part of the historic first journey.

The opening of the new line includes four new stops in the town, Oldham Mumps, Oldham Central, Oldham King Street and Westwood, as trams zip along the roads towards Manchester or Rochdale.

Several eager transport enthusiasts bought tickets and braved the cold pre-dawn start to be part of the momentous occasion, boarding the tram at various stations along the way.

The tram followed the new route through each of the four new stops, including Westwood, Oldham King Street and Oldham Central, before arriving at Oldham Mumps just before 5.35am.

It was a welcome end to the years of disruption, engineering work and line closures that the town has struggled through as the new service was installed along Union Street, through King Street and down the hill towards Westwood.

One of the first passengers on the new line was Peter Crichton, a transport enthusiast from Grotton.

He said: “I’ve always been interested in transport, probably because I grew up around buses and trains as my dad was a bus conductor. Every now and again I don the old anorak and take a ride on local transport.”

Oldhamers weren’t the only ones ready and waiting for the opening of the new line. Paul Steane (56), from Altrincham also got up several hours early to take a ride before heading to work in Preston.

“I try to get on the first trams when I can,” he said. “It’s exciting to be on board the first tram to go along a new line in Oldham and take some photographs along the way. It is a way to be part of history.”

After completing its trip through the town centre, the tram continued to Rochdale, arriving at 6am, before returning to Oldham Mumps at 6.18am to take the first set of commuters to Manchester.

Metrolink driver Chris Allen (50) had the pleasure of driving the historic first tram on the new line and said it was a “very exciting experience”.

Mr Allen, from Hazel Grove, Stockport, said: “I really enjoyed driving the tram along the new line.

“Everything has gone to plan and it has been a very exciting experience for me, one that no-one else will have.”

Transport for Greater Manchester project manager Alan Cayton, who was also on board, said: “It is great to see so many people using the tram even at this time in the morning and that everything has gone to plan.”

The town centre line, which stretches from East Didsbury, through Manchester and Oldham to Rochdale, is the latest addition to Metrolink’s network, bringing it to 48 miles and 76 stations.

Journeys from Rochdale Manchester Victoria take around 45 minutes, while journeys from Oldham Mumps will take 30 minutes.

A return off-peak adult ticket from Oldham Mumps to Victoria will cost £3.60 or £5.40 at peak times.

Off-peak return tickets from Oldham Mumps to Rochdale cost £2.90 or £3.70 at peak times.

The new Oldham Mumps stop also benefits from links to bus services and a free park and ride site for Metrolink passengers.

Councillor Jim McMahon, Oldham Council Leader, said: “Today is a historic and exciting day in Oldham’s history – and one that points to a much brighter future.

“We knew the biggest infrastructure project in our borough’s history would inevitably cause disruption, especially for businesses and motorists, and I want to thank people for the patience they’ve shown during the construction period.

“Looking ahead, our wide-ranging regeneration plans for Oldham town centre – like the work currently underway to turn the Old Town Hall into a multi-screen cinema – are all designed to capitalise on the arrival of the tram and the fantastic new opportunities it offers to residents, investors, businesses and visitors.

“Metrolink has been the catalyst for all these plans and we are totally focused on delivering schemes like this that will transform what is on offer in Oldham town centre.”


Travelled on the tram new route today much better than the old line from Mumps. returned later on it with people asking me were to get of for the Town Centre i give directions to a few of them were they all alighted at Central Sation.
So if that one journey occurs on most trams Yes it will bring punters in to Oldham lets hope it stops the whingers ......

myself i could not move in spindles thought it was the boxing day sales could not believe the masses of people in the store's this is going to be the best thing ever that as happened to the town centre....as for toy & hobby that as already closed and the textile shop next door shut but hey its early days myself i parked in sainsburys for 3 hours & enlightened the tram to manchester....

willmurray; well said. The early trams were also packed with Oldhamers travelling to their employment all over the Greater Manchester conurbation. The overall impression is that Oldham now has a much more modern appearance. I was surprised at the number of people who were concerned about the service having to be suspended while the new line was brought into use. It's interesting how quickly people have become used to having the new facility available. The whingers will never stop.

This must be the biggest white elephant the town has ever seen,how do you get to the town centre from any of the stops without giving yourself a heart attack?surely from Westwood it should have run via Middleton road,West street and Yorkshire street to Mumps also more buses should link up with the tram stops,it is supposedly an integrated transport system

Thumbs up for day one. Despite additional stops I still made it into Manchester Victoria at usual time for work. Bit longer on return journey but as long as it's reliable it's better than driving.

I travelled on the tram today. I saw one ticket-less passenger being asked by a uniformed Metro Link official to get off at the next stop. I thought those caught without tickets were supposed to be fined? Traveling without a ticket is theft. Why don't Metro Link staff enforce the rules? it makes a mockery of the honest people who do buy a ticket to ride!

@willmurray. How is is "much better" than the train was? How can you possibly define progress to be a journey which now takes longer to complete than it did 4 years ago, has more stops and is more expensive?

Will it bring punters into Oldham? ....... Not even Oldhamers want to shop in Oldham. Why on earth would anyone else?

Failsworthian - How would you have proposed it got from West St to Yorkshire St? Also, what would the trams have done on Friday and Saturday night when Yorkshire street is closed to traffic and full of drunks? If you have a heart attack going from Union Street to Spindles, you are either seriously unfit or if age related, won't be on the tram anyway.

Mumps to Manchester 2009, by train, was 13 minutes non stop and 20 minutes all station.

Mumps to Manchester 2014, by tram is "30 minutes". That's a 50% or 130% increase in journey time for the majority of passenger usage from Oldham & Shaw.

The Loop was about getting to and from Manchester and its still the case today. Peak time there are few, if any seats after Derker. The final ones taken by Mumps. At 12 min frequency there are still less seat per hour than the rush hour train service had.

Please note "By larkin" last year the trains ran 1.2 million passengers, first year trams run 2.5 million passengers. enough said !

Failsworthian, when you got the tram route to the top of West St would you have demolished Spindles shopping Centre to get your tram through to Yorkshire St? Perhaps you haven't visited Oldham town Centre since St. Peter's precinct was demolished!

Still some moaning from those who can't remember what a parlous state the railway was in before it was Metrolinked. It would have cost a fortune to fettle up, money that may not have been forthcoming. Remember also that the railway did not serve two town centres, and give access to more of Manchester than just Victoria. Five times an hour until the wee small ones, to boot! You've got a real asset there Oldham, celebrate it!

Grainsexile, you forget that any investment in the loop has been blighted by the threat of Metrolink conversion since 1979. BR, Railtrack,& Network Rail have any invested the minimum amount for safety. There was no point in them investing more as there was potential for the line to be given away to Metrolink.

The investment required to update the railway would have been less than the Metrolink conversion. We'd be better off as part of the northern hub investment. Oldham loss, Stalybridge's gain

I'm still wondering why OMBC thought it was so important to connect the tram to the town centre by bus, but never thought it important when it was the train?

Lots of people are using the new tram. I wonder how many more people would have used the trains if they'd have been publicised as much as GMPTE/OMBC do the tram.
The train cheap ticket deals were far cheaper than the tram, but again, as it was the train, GMPTE/OMBC never thought to tell the public.

Some of my colleagues travelled from Bury to Oldham town centre for a meeting using the network.

If you get off the tram at King Street, you can enter Spindles via George Street. Last time I looked there is no incline from King Street to George Street.

Ex Rail Traveller - more people use the tram as it now reaches a much wider audience due to the additional stops.

There was no need to advertise such a classic railway as the Loop Line surely? If it was that good it would have been used as extensively as the tram system now is. It wasn't and it isn't.

I'm pleased it now goes into Oldham Town Centre and I hope that it spurs footfall in the centre and the regeneration that will surely follow.

ShawThing. I hope you now enjoy your longer journey time to Manchester? The annoying thing about Metrolink, GMPTE & OMBC is they lack of a level playing field. There has been far too much spin, waffle, & look at the new shiny thing.

All the things done for Metrolink could have been done for the railway at a lower cost, and without all the town centre disruption. OMBC want you to believe Bury is successful because it has the tram, but this is NOT true. Bury's market has sparked the investment.

Great day for Oldham. hopefully it will lead to the regeneration of Union Street and bring more people into the town

Also put all the whingers to bed.

The tram from Oldham to Manchester (and beyond) is so much nicer a journey than the buses!

South Chadderton Metro stop is in a beautiful location. It is convenient for many people who had to go to Moston, Hollinwood or Mumps. It's now much easier to come from Rochdale or Manchester or to travel in the opposite direction. It's about all of the stops in between that did not exist before and the improved frequency, It simplifies access to jobs all over the conurbation. It is a significant step into the future for Oldham. The critics should, for once, try to be positive. I live in hope.


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