Andy Burnham gives new update on plans to extend Metrolink to Stockport and other parts of Greater Manchester

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Andy Burnham has confirmed plans are in place to bring Metrolink trams to Stockport and extend services to Middleton and Heywood.

The mayor, speaking outside the new Stockport Interchange as shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves visited the town, confirmed that a previously-teased ‘appraisal’ has been completed. It was set to be published in early June but this has been delayed by the general election campaign, he also confirmed.

“That work is done and we will be publishing that as soon as we can after the election,” he told the Local Democracy Reporting Service. “Obviously, it relates to how we will bring Metrolink to this place behind me, and our ambitions to go north with potentially a tram-train option serving Atom Valley — Middleton, Heywood, Bury — and other schemes as well. We will bring that work forward very quickly.”

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Rachel Reeves chats to Andy Burnham during a visit in Stockport. Rachel Reeves chats to Andy Burnham during a visit in Stockport.
Rachel Reeves chats to Andy Burnham during a visit in Stockport. | LDRS

While both lines have been the subject of speculation, election pledges from the Conservatives, and on the wishlist of Mr Burnham and his contemporaries for years, Friday saw the most concrete affirmation that they will be built. The Greater Manchester mayor also said that he believed Labour would back his plans to build a new railway line from Liverpool to Manchester, should the party win the election on July 4.

That was despite shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh telling journalists at Manchester Airport on Thursday that ‘we are not going into this election promising anything that we can’t commit to’, and did not commit specifically to the new Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) line between the two cities.

“We want to take a long-term approach that encourages the private sector to invest and make sure that every penny that we spend of taxpayers’ money delivers the best return and delivers the best outcomes for passengers across the North,” Ms Haigh said. “But Northern rail connectivity and transport infrastructure will absolutely be the priority of the next Labour government.”

However, Mr Burnham - who said he did not even consider attempting to be selected for the general election race in Makerfield, near to his home and old constituency of Leigh - ‘believes there is a commitment’ having ‘spoken to Keir [Starmer] and Louise [Haigh] about it’.

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“There is £17bn in the plan,” he went on. “The thing I will be getting over to both of them is this new line will be linking an investment zone in Liverpool city centre via a big development in Warrington, Manchester Airport, and to another investment zone in Manchester city centre.

“That £17bn is in the [Integrated Rail] plan, with £12bn left in the plan and £5bn allocated to the Liverpool end of the line… it’s a funded plan at the moment. I will be encouraging them to stick to it, possibly even increasing it because we want the highest ambitions for the line.”

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