Transport for Greater Manchester is working on new plans to enhance the conurbation’s rail stations following transport secretary Chris Grayling’s decision to refuse the full transfer of stations to Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s control (LTT--05 Jan).
TfGM submitted plans to the Government last March that would have seen the full devolution of stations to GMCA over a period of 150 years. TfGM said this would deliver improvements such as greater investment in station assets, better customer experience, and local regeneration and development. Rental income from retailing and restaurants at the biggest stations such as Piccadilly could have been used to fund improvements at smaller stations (LTT 23 Jan 15).
Network Rail and train operator Arriva Rail North submitted a rival plan for a partnership model and Grayling told Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham late last year that the latter was the Government’s preference.
Grayling’s letter to Burnham, just released by TfGM, says: “I am concerned that separating control of stations from the rail industry has the potential to create difficulties and delay to enhancements. I am convinced that working together in partnership as ‘one team’ will deliver better outcomes for customers and communities more quickly.”
TfGM chief executive Jon Lamonte told GMCA that the DfT was proposing awarding £6m to Greater Manchester to develop regeneration and housing (£5m) and community (£1m) schemes at stations. Funding would be managed by Government company London and Continental Railways and the initiative could involve the use of surplus Network Rail assets around stations.
“The partnership will consider possible funding mechanisms to allow cross-subsidy of potential development returns to be used across the Greater Manchester station portfolio,” added Lamonte. “This will ensure that a funding mechanism is in place so stations with little or no development opportunities receive a proportion of the returns for customer improvement projects.”
Work has commenced on the development and regeneration opportunities at each of Burnham’s ‘town centre challenge’ locations with rail stations: Swinton, Farnworth, Stockport, Stalybridge and Rochdale.
TfGM, Stockport Council and Network Rail are conducting a development pilot study for Stockport’s 19 stations.
TfGM is working with Northern and Network Rail on possible customer improvements for stations on the Manchester Piccadilly- Glossop line. Turning redundant station buildings at Glazebrook into a ‘community hub’ is also being explored.
Meanwhile, TfGM wants to gain a station licence at Horwich Parkway, which it owns. This would allow TfGM staff to operate the station, rather than sub-contracting the activities to a train operator.
Lamonte said it would cost more than £150m to make all the conurbation’s stations step-free. TfGM will prioritise stations for funding bids to Network Rail’s Access for All programme.
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