Local stakeholders and Northern Rail have come together to launch the South East Manchester Community Rail Partnership, aimed at engaging local communities with the railway and working with partners to improve stations along its routes.
The Community Rail Partnership will cover the Manchester to New Mills Central, Manchester to Rose Hill via Hyde and Manchester to Hadfield (as far as Broadbottom) lines.
The partnership sees the collaboration of Northern Rail with key players Manchester City Council, Stockport Borough Council, Tameside Borough Council, GMPTE and New East Manchester Ltd.
The routes involved link inner city areas of Greater Manchester with areas of outstanding natural beauty in the Peak National Park and the Community Rail Partnership will focus on linking the city with the country.
Some of the areas suffer from high deprivation and social issues and the partnership will bring together passengers, train operators, Network Rail and Local Authorities and will work with communities and stakeholders will focus on how the railway can be a positive influence on these communities.
Another important area of concentration for the partners will be the improvement and maintenance of stations along the routes, and to work with relevant bodies to promote integrated transport links, such as bus, taxi, community transport, cycling, walking and park and ride.
Cllr Peter Robinson of Tameside Borough Council and Chairman of the partnership, comments: “The launch of the South East Manchester Community Rail Partnership is a key step forward in the improvement of our rail network. We will work together to ensure the routes are maintained as well as possible, promote green travel plans with key employers in the region and give the communities it serves a sense of ownership when it comes to the railway and its stations.”
Mark Barker, Client and Stakeholder Relationships for Northern Rail, comments: “We already operate 18 Community Rail Partnerships across our network and every one of these has a positive impact on its routes. We recognise that South East Manchester could benefit from a partnership such as this to promote its rail network and work with local communities to understand the needs of our passengers and how we can improve our services.”
Cllr Craig Wright of Stockport Council and Vice Chair of the partnership, comments: “Getting more people to use public transport is a key objective of the Local Transport Plan and South East Manchester Community Rail Partnership can play an important role in encouraging more people to use their local train services to get into the Regional Centre.”
Councillor Doreen Dickinson, Chair of Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority’s Rail and Metrolink Networks Committee, said: “Community Rail Partnerships are a great way for local communities to have a say in how their rail services are run, and also to get involved in projects like station improvements and promoting local transport links. Railways are a vital local service, so it’s a positive step for the communities to play a role in improving and promoting them.”