Plea for station link dismissed
Reporter: Jacob Metcalf
Date published: 16 November 2016
STILL no direct link to Piccadilly
METROLINK service plans for the new Second City Crossing (2CC) which opens next year are not good news for Oldham, a councillor has warned.
Passengers will benefit from more trams running right into the heart of Manchester city centre, but Oldhamers still won't have a direct link to Piccadilly station.
A meeting of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee heard how the new 2CC route - due to open early next year - will give Metrolink greater operational flexibility and improved service reliability whilst also providing for the long-awaited extension of Manchester Airport services beyond Cornbrook to Deansgate-Castlefield initially and then Victoria.
It was decided that Rochdale and Oldham services to and from East Didsbury will run along the new line through the city, serving Victoria, Exchange Square and St Peter's Square.
Services will also run seven days a week between Altrincham and Piccadilly, Bury and Piccaddilly, and Eccles and Ashton-under-Lyne as well as additional services running from 7am-7pm, Monday to Saturday, linking East Didsbury and Shaw and Crompton, Altrincham and Bury, and MediaCityUK and Etihad Campus.
The news that Oldham won't have a direct link to Piccadilly has left Shaw Councillor Howard Sykes bitterly disappointed as a request to defer the decision to allow time to show why a direct link is key to future growth of the borough was dismissed and heavily defeated when put to a vote.
He said: "Not good news for Oldham or Rochdale. Despite numerous representations, meetings, motions at council and correspondence, at the meeting a request to defer this decision to allow us to show why a direct link to Piccadilly is key for future growth and development of both boroughs was dismissed and heavily defeated when put to the vote.
"This is a real shame and breaks a clear understanding going back to 1989 that in converting the rail line to trams we would get a direct connection to the mainline station at Piccadilly.
"Other areas have rail links, we do not. I will not give up on a direct link and hope others will do the same."
Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of TfGM Committee, believes that the new line will meet passenger demand while offering operational flexibility and resilience.
He said: "It's an exciting time for Metrolink as we gear up for the Second City Crossing opening early next year.
"Under these new plans high-frequency services will run to major city centre employment areas, with a targeted approach to meet passenger demand to travel along each route.
"Customers will be able to make quick and easy connections to travel anywhere on the 93-stop network with just one change of tram."
He added: "This new line will provide much-needed operational flexibility and resilience for the largest light rail network in the UK - one that is set to expand either further with a new line to Trafford Park.
"I look forward to customers reaping the benefits in the new year."
All major construction work on 2CC will soon be finished in time for the busy festive period and a through testing and commissioning process will follow before the new line fully opens in early next year.
2CC is part of the transformational Grow project which is seeing more than £1billion invested into the city centre infrastructure improvements by 2017, including bus priority measures, six new and better cycle routes into the city centre and major rail improvements.