Metrolink: a new dawn?
Metrolink: back on track?
The Big Bang is back - and with no congestion charge. As the original plan to double the size of the Metrolink network is resurrected, we take a detailed look at what’s coming down the track in Greater Manchester.
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When the people of Greater Manchester gave the congestion charge a resounding ‘No’ vote in December 2008, it seemed there was no plan B for improving public transport.
But five months later, a £1.5bn transport fund has now been agreed to fund the final Metrolink extensions to Manchester Airport, East Didsbury, Ashton-under-Lyne and the town centres of Oldham and Rochdale, as well as a second city crossing between Victoria and G-Mex.
And it’s not just Metrolink that will benefit. Money will also be spent on additional busways, park and ride schemes and bus improvements including:
• a Leigh to Manchester busway;
However, while most of the cash is coming from the Government, the rest will have to be raised locally from a £2 a year levy in council tax.
The original £520m expansion of Metrolink was first announced back in 2000 and dubbed the Big Bang on account of the scale of the project.
A second city crossing is planned
But the plan hit the buffers in 2004 when the Government withdrew over rising costs, prompting outrage across Greater Manchester and the start of the Back on Track campaign.
In 2008, the Government confirmed it would pay a lump sum of £244m for a scaled down ‘Mini Bang’ expansion to Rochdale railway station, Chorlton and Droylsden.
Then, later that year, the full ‘Big Bang’ expansion was made a condition of the congestion charge, which was famously thrown out in a referendum.
But now, after months of negotiations, it seems that the money has been found to help Metrolink go the extra mile with the remainder being found from existing AGMA budgets.
Construction work on the new Metrolink lines, which would create hundreds of jobs, could start in late 2009.
last updated: 15/05/2009 at 15:57