Mayor Andy Burnham blasts Manchester’s ‘embarrassing’ train stations - and wants to take control of them

He claims the city centre stations have not seen substantial investment for decades.
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Andy Burnham wants to take control over all train stations across Greater Manchester, accusing the railway industry of ‘failing’ the city-region.

The Greater Manchester mayor has described the five train stations in the city centre which lag behind their surroundings as ’embarrassing’ to the industry.

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He claims the city centre stations have not seen substantial investment for decades – and argues that other stations need to be more accessible to all.

Mr Burnham said Greater Manchester would look at building flats above the stations and make better use of commercial space to ‘maximise their value’.

It comes one month after a judge ruled in favour of the mayor taking buses in the city-region back under public control for the first time since the 1980s.

The Labour mayor will demand that the government invests in train stations or hands over control of them as well as part of the upcoming devolution talks.

Manchester Piccadilly stationManchester Piccadilly station
Manchester Piccadilly station
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He said: “These stations in city centre Manchester are an embarrassment to the rail industry because they are outliers in the city.

“You’ve got modern buildings where thousands of people are working in a really attractive environment and stations that are just nowhere near the same level.

“It’s really something that can’t be allowed to continue.”

Mr Burnham said Piccadilly Station last had ‘substantial’ investment in the late nineties ahead of the Commonwealth Games, while others have waited longer.

However, Victoria Station recevied a £44m revamp around seven years ago when the glass bubble roof was installed alongside other improvements.

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He described Salford Central station as ‘dangerous’ due to the ‘massive gap’ between platforms and the trains forcing people to ‘jump onto the platform’.

One platform at Oxford Road has no disability access while platforms 13 and 14 at Piccadilly Station are not a ‘safe environment’, according to the mayor.

And Deansgate, which gets dark at night, is ‘not modern’, the mayor added.

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) took control of Horwich Parkway station last year, saying this would be a ‘blueprint’ for other train stations.

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The mayor now wants control of all 98 stations in Greater Manchester together with Network Rail’s ‘patch-them-up’ budget to maintain them.

But he says Greater Manchester would take an ‘innovative approach’, working with the property industry, to ‘maximise the value of the assets’ and generate an income which would be reinvested in the stations, funding improvements.

He said: “London has got stations where they have built property above those station because it’s an attractive thing – you’re building for public transport.

“You’re building flats that are highly connected. It’s very easy to live in a place above a transport interchange.

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“Maybe not everyone wants to live there, but younger people might and it’s much more convenient.”

Manchester Piccadilly station Credit: ShutterstockManchester Piccadilly station Credit: Shutterstock
Manchester Piccadilly station Credit: Shutterstock

Mr Burnham said he doesn’t begrudge other cities for the investment they have received in recent year, but claims that Manchester has been ‘left out’.

Control of railway stations did feature in the original devolution deal, but the government did not agree to handing over the power to Greater Manchester.

Mr Burnham said he wants to make all stations in Manchester city centre as ‘modern’ and ‘attractive’ as all of the Metrolink stations managed by TfGM.

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He said devolution talks are expected to start in May after the local elections.

A Network Rail spokesman said: “We’re committed to working with TfGM on station improvements for passengers across Greater Manchester.

“Salford Central will have its canopies and platforms renewed from January next year during a 5-month overhaul. In addition, last month the government announced an £84million investment that includes proposals to remodel and refurbish Oxford Road station.”