One MP described planned work to connect the HS2 rail network in Manchester, which would partially suspend tram services to Ashton, as “disastrous for Tameside”.
Andrew Gwynne, the MP for Denton and Reddish has criticized the proposals contained in the new HS2 bill brought before Parliament this week.
The bill confers the necessary powers to build a part of the second phase of High Speed 2, with the aim of linking Crewe to Manchester with a new railway line.
However, as part of the major construction involved in the project, tram services along the Ashton-under-Lyne to Eccles route would be suspended while ‘Metrolink realignment work’ is carried out to enable completion. of the station hall and the refurbishment works.
A temporary track and ‘backtrack’ would be created on Piccadilly for a period of two years until the new Piccadilly Metrolink stop is fully functional.
A replacement bus service between Ashton and Piccadilly Gardens would be in operation during these times.
An HS2 spokesperson said that, subject to the bill’s passage, Metrolink realignment work is not expected to begin until at least 2024, and they intend to limit Metrolink’s outage to “the shortest duration that is reasonably possible.”
The works would involve the lowering of the existing tram tracks, and it is ‘foreseen’ that there will be periods of closure of the line around this section to modify the ‘vertical layout’.
But Mr. Gwynne told the LDRS: “The Metrolink line to Ashton is a crucial piece of public transport infrastructure to parts of Tameside.
“I understand that the HS2 works around Piccadilly will be hugely disruptive in the coming years, but we cannot have a situation where this line is discontinued and replaced by a replacement bus service.
“I will table amendments to the bill to ensure that TfGM’s preferred option of at least running trams between New Islington and Ashton becomes the preferred option.
“This would require a new depot to be built by Ashton Moss to park the trams when they are not in use, but in the grand scheme of bringing HS2 to Manchester, it is not an unreasonable request for the people who depend on this vital transport link.”
An HS2 spokesperson said: “We are committed to minimizing disruption to Metrolink passengers and continue to work closely with Transport for Greater Manchester to plan the HS2 construction works programme.
“Construction work will be phased in to limit disruption, with single line operation and/or replacement bus services in place to ensure riders maintain access to Metrolink routes.
“The proposals for the Crewe – Manchester extension of the HS2 network include the provision of new Metrolink stops at the new Manchester Piccadilly and Airport stations, improving connectivity to HS2 and future NPR services.
“We encourage communities to express their opinion on the proposals and respond to the public consultation on the Environmental Declaration before March 31, 2022.”