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MP describes HS2 plans to suspend Ashton tram link as 'disastrous'

Friday, January 28th, 2022 3:01pm

By Charlotte Green, Local Democracy Reporter @CharGreenLDR

Metrolink tram in Ashton-under-Lyne. Image: Nigel Wood.

An MP has described planned works to connect the HS2 rail network in Manchester which would partially suspend tram services to Ashton as 'disastrous for Tameside'.

Andrew Gwynne, the MP for Denton and Reddish, has criticised proposals contained within the new HS2 Bill laid before Parliament this week.

The Bill confers the powers required to construct a part of the second phase of High Speed 2, with the aim of linking Crewe to Manchester with a new railway line.

However as part of the major construction involved with the project, tram services along the Ashton-under-Lyne to Eccles route would be suspended while ‘Metrolink realignment works’ are carried out to allow for completion of the station concourse and fit-out works.

There would be a temporary track and ‘turn back’ created at Piccadilly for a period of two years until the new Piccadilly Metrolink stop becomes fully functional.

A replacement bus service between Ashton and Piccadilly Gardens would be in operation during these times.

A spokesperson for HS2 said that subject to the passage of the Bill, Metrolink realignment works are not expected to begin until at least 2024, and they intend to limit disruption to Metrolink to ‘as short a duration as is reasonably practicable’.

The works would see the existing tram tracks lowered, and it is ‘anticipated’ that there will be periods of closure on the line around this section to modify the ‘vertical alignment’.

But Mr Gwynne told the LDRS: “The Metrolink line to Ashton is a crucial piece of public transport infrastructure to parts of Tameside.

“I get that the HS2 works around Piccadilly will be massively disruptive for years to come, but we cannot have a situation where this line is mothballed and replaced by a bus replacement service.

“I will be tabling amendments to the bill to ensure the TfGM preferred option of at least running trams between New Islington and Ashton becomes the preferred option.

“This would require a new depot building Ashton Moss to park the trams when not in use, but in the big scheme of bringing HS2 to Manchester it’s not an unreasonable ask for the people who rely on this vital transport link.”

An HS2 spokesperson said: “We are committed to minimising disruption for Metrolink passengers and continue to work closely with Transport for Greater Manchester to plan for HS2’s programme of construction works.

“Construction works will be phased to limit disruption, with single line operation and/or replacement bus services put in place to ensure that passengers retain access to Metrolink routes.

“Proposals for the Crewe – Manchester extension of the HS2 network include provision for new Metrolink stops at the new Manchester Piccadilly and Airport Stations, enhancing connectivity to HS2 and future NPR services.

“We encourage communities to have their say on the proposals and respond to the public consultation on the Environmental Statement by 31 March 2022.”

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