Thursday, 18 June 2009

Could Oldham get two tram lines running through the town centre?

GMPTE bosses and local businesses are holding talks on how to make the most of taking trams into Oldham. Work has already started to convert the Oldham Loop railway line to Metrolink by autumn 2011 with the existing train stations at Werneth and Oldham Mumps being converted into tram stations, and other new tram stops being built between Manchester Victoria and Rochdale (click here to view the tram route). However, last month's announcement that a new Metrolink line will run through Oldham town centre itself, creating 6 tram stops instead of the initial 2, has forced a rethink, as it could result in trams running parallel through Oldham. Therefore, people could be able to catch one tram into Oldham town centre or a different one to send them round the outskirts and towards Manchester or Rochdale more quickly (as this route map here shows).

Oldham Council leader, Councillor Howard Sykes, explains the problem: “If we had both [lines], one would assume some trams would go round the town centre and some would go through. It means the existing site of the railway line is kept, while the original plans were that it would be given up”.

Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive will now discuss with local businesses over the new few weeks whether there's a future for both lines or should they scrap the 'outer' line (Oldham Werneth to Oldham Mumps) plan when the town centre line is built. There are 3 proposals which will be discussed:

1. create a new ‘Mumps’ stop between Bell Street and Brook Street, next to Mumps Bridge, which would enable the two lines to co-exist. An artist’s impression of the new Metrolink bridge at Mumps roundabout can viewed here:
2. create a new stop at the Rhodes Bank end of Union Street which would serve the town centre line
3. refurbish the existing Mumps train station

A planning application will be submitted next month for a new ‘Mumps’ stop between Bell Street and Brook Street. Once this application has been submitted, there will be a formal public consultation regarding the issue.

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