The Greater Manchester town that could finally get a tram link and be unlikely beneficiary of HS2 axe

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It is believed the Metrolink could be extended to Bolton - as well as Wigan, Heywood, and Stockport.

Bolton’s link to the rest of Greater Manchester could end up being the unlikely beneficiary of the scrapping of HS2 as plans to bring the Metrolink tram service to the town look on the cards.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak unveiled plans to invest nearly £4billion on improving connectivity in the Northern towns and cities when the HS2 link from Birmingham to Manchester was axed last week. It is now believed this could result in the Metrolink being extended to Bolton as well as Wigan, Heywood, and Stockport.

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Developing the Metrolink is part of the Government's plan under 'Network North'Developing the Metrolink is part of the Government's plan under 'Network North'
Developing the Metrolink is part of the Government's plan under 'Network North'

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has long talked about extending the Metrolink, citing huge increases in passenger traffic in all areas served by the city region’s trams.

It has been argued in the past that because Bolton is on the main railway route into Manchester and beyond, it doesn’t need a Metrolink. But speaking before he was re-elected two years ago, Mr Burnham disagreed. “Passenger numbers have risen by more than 60 per cent where ever there has been a Metrolink,” he said then.

His comments have been backed up by University of Bolton visiting professor Dr Paul Salveson, who said of the Metrolink: “We don’t know the details as yet but its something that everyone in Bolton is keen to get. It looks like it will be an extension of the existing line, probably to Radcliffe.

“What it would mean is that people living in the eastern parts of Bolton, like Breightmet and areas like that, will have another route into Manchester.”

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However, Dr Salveson, a former head of government and community strategies at Northern Rail, said that people should not automatically assume the new line will be connected to Radcliffe. He said he has also argued for a connection from the south of the borough to Royal Bolton Hospital and on to areas like Little Hulton and Walkden in Salford.

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