UK: A report outlining proposals for the development of tram-train services sharing tracks with heavy rail services and also running on-street was approved by Transport for Greater Manchester Committee's Capital Projects & Policy Sub-Committee on November 7.

An initial study into the feasibility, cost and benefits of potential routes has identified Manchester to Marple via Bredbury as the most economically-viable initial route, which could possibly open around 2020 and would require around 24 vehicles.

Other routes that are under consideration as part of a potential tram-train network are:

  • Manchester - Glossop;
  • Manchester - Atherton - Wigan;
  • Manchester - East Didsbury - Hazel Grove;
  • Stockport - Altrincham, possibly as part of a wide public transport network serving the airport area and future High Speed 2 station;
  • Manchester - Sale - Altrincham - Hale/Knutsford; initial studies say the capital costs of running to Hale and Knutsford appear to be high, and heavy rail is recommended.

TfGM said the aim is to make greater use of Greater Manchester's local rail network to provide better and more frequent access to the city centre and improved connections with other public transport. TfGM will now look at how the proposals can be developed as part of a long-term transport strategy.

The overall cost is estimated at £650m at current prices, including 66% contingency but excluding vehicles. It is expected that services would cover operating and renewal costs once initial construction costs were incurred.

'Track-sharing between heavy and light rail trains with street-running capability is already well established in continental Europe, especially in Germany', said Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of the TfGM Committee. 'Not only are there numerous benefits to commuters, such as increased capacity and frequency and better inner-city connectivity, but tram-trains also have the potential to be financially self-sustaining.'

However he stressed that tram-train development 'very much remains a long-term project for Greater Manchester, making it difficult to identify potential implementation dates or funding'.

  • TfGM is to procure 10 more Bombardier M5000 high-floor LRVs for the planned Trafford Centre extension, aiming to obtain a favourable price through an add-on to existing orders. Once legal powers to build the £350m extension are obtained, construction could start in 2015-16 for completion in 2019.