Rochdale MP, Tony Lloyd, has slammed the government for pulling their support on restoring the Bury–Heywood–Rochdale rail line.
Tony said, “The government’s announcement is a kick in the teeth for Rochdale and Greater Manchester.
“Tram and rail services from Rochdale to Manchester provide transport to the city centre but it doesn’t provide the kind of connections we need to get around the city region, and in particular, from Rochdale and Heywood to Bury.
“Whilst there are future plans for tram-train services between Oldham, Rochdale, Heywood and Bury, these are way down the line and Transport for Greater Manchester are still looking at ways on how to fund this which will only be made more difficult with the withdrawal of this support.
“The Conservatives talk big on investing in economic growth and levelling up our communities, but when it comes to taking decisive action they’re no where to be seen.
“At the end of the day, it’s businesses and communities across Rochdale, and Heywood to Bury, which will lose out, not to mention the now-missed opportunities in reducing carbon emissions. The government must look at this decision again.”
The ‘Restoring Your Railway Fund’ aims to reinstate axed local services and restore closed stations, and the application to restore the Bury–Heywood–Rochdale was successful in the first step.
The Minister of State for Transport informed Tony and neighbouring MPs for Heywood & Middleton (Chris Clarkson) and Bury North (James Daly) that the application would not progress further owing to “cost and wider capacity challenges”, going on to state that “that the scheme would be best considered as part of Greater Manchester’s City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement (CRSTS) programme.”
The Greater Manchester five-year delivery plan, which was published last year by TfGM, shows the Bury–Heywood –Rochdale route to be of key consideration with the corridor highlighted as being suitable for intervention. TfGM are currently undertaking a tram-train pathfinder project, but as it stands, funding only covers the pilot tram-train from Heywood to Oldham.
Notes for editors:-
• Ten bids have were announced to receive a share of a £500,000 Restoring Your Railway ‘Ideas Fund’ to develop proposals to build or reopen railway lines and stations, including those closed following the Beeching cuts of the 1960s. These can be found here.
• Bury, Rochdale and Oldham are connected to the regional centre of Greater Manchester by the Metrolink Network. This network was developed by replacing existing railway lines across Greater Manchester with light rail, metro-style services and over thirty years has developed from concept through to carrying 45 million trips per year.
• Heywood station was closed to normal passenger services in 1970 and since 2003 has been used by the East Lancashire Railway, as an important heritage railway tourist attraction.
• The Restoring Your Railway scheme could help us provide low carbon, rapid transit connectivity between the four North Manchester towns of Bury, Heywood, Rochdale and Oldham, facilitating connections from Heywood to Manchester City Centre with the rail services from Castleton and Rochdale, or with Metrolink services from Bury.