The £68million plans which could see two Greater Manchester towns linked by tram for the first time

The proposals would see the previous rail network between Bury and Rochdale via Heywood used.
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A transport strategy for the borough of Bury over the next 20 years has been agreed. With £68m to roll out the plan already secured, council leaders will approve the strategy at a meeting later this week.

One plan is to introduce new technology so that Metrolink services can be used on the previous rail network between Bury and Rochdale via Heywood. The scheme, which would see the former Calder Valley line restored, was earmarked for government funding through the Restoring Your Railway Fund but this was pulled in January due to rising costs. The new strategy says Transport for Greater Manchester are developing plans that would see a rail link between Heywood, Rochdale and Oldham using tram-train technology.

The report said: “We are exploring the potential for a connection between Heywood and Bury, with the longer-term aim of linking to the existing Metrolink networks in the north of Manchester and improving connectivity to the Calder Valley Line.

“The focus of the project will be to create the next generation Metrolink vehicle, tram-train infrastructure. The ultimate proposal will provide new technology that will allow Metrolink vehicles to operate on existing heavy rail lines as well as the Metrolink lines.”

A Metrolink tramA Metrolink tram
A Metrolink tram

Bury’s vision for improved connectivity within the borough also includes a new Metrolink stop at Elton reservoir with this element part of the Places For Everyone masterplan which could see more than 2,000 homes built close to the existing reservoir.

Another key pledge in the strategy is the delivery of a new £84m Interchange in Bury town centre along with cycling and walking improvements in Bury, Radcliffe and Ramsbottom town centres. Road congestion and delays on the roads would be improved by new roads and junction improvements being put in place where they are needed to support new development, alongside better management of roadworks and traffic signal improvements.

Coun Eamonn O’Brien, leader of Bury Council, said: “This new strategy comes at an exciting time for transport in Greater Manchester, with bus services coming under local control for the first time in almost 40 years. If we are to realise our vision and our regeneration plans, we need a state-of-the-art transport system that is affordable, safe, reliable and well-maintained.

“We need our transport network to unlock new sites for development, to promote health and well-being through active travel and to help meet our commitment to having fossil-fuel free travel by 2038.”

The strategy takes on board the views of more than 200 people who took part in a recent consultation. Coun O’Brien said: “We received many differing views on whether we were doing enough for motorists, or whether we were doing enough for pedestrians and cyclists.

“The fact is, we want to make it easier for everyone to get around and give people a real choice of how they travel.”

Coun O’Brien added: “This strategy sets out a range of exciting and complementary measures to help deliver a modern transport network that everyone benefits from. We can’t and won’t change things overnight, but we will need to make a gradual change in the way we travel, and show we have a long-term commitment to sustainable transport if we are to attract the necessary investment to make it happen.”