BRITISH infrastructure manager Network Rail (NR) has signed an agreement with Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) that will see the two parties work together to deliver regeneration programmes at stations serving Manchester city centre.

The collaboration agreement was signed by NR chair, Lord Peter Hendy; TfGM managing director, Mr Steve Warrener; and Mr Eamonn Boylan, TfGM chief executive and chief executive of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

NR and TfGM say that the agreement is the first of its kind between the two organisations, and marks “a major step forward in bringing together both land and infrastructure to create a better-connected Greater Manchester.”

Working with key stakeholders, NR and TfGM will identify future regeneration opportunities at stations in Greater Manchester and work to attract partners for the delivery of future projects.

Over the next 12 months the two organisations will work on proposals for six stations serving Manchester city centre: Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Victoria, Manchester Oxford Road, Deansgate, Salford Central and Salford Crescent.

Greater Manchester is currently the fastest-growing metropolitan area in Britain, with its total population predicted to grow to around 2.95 million by 2031. The City of Manchester itself is forecast to account for 36% of this growth.

The partnership between NR and TfGM will focus on transport upgrades and supporting regeneration that will allow the neighbouring cities of Manchester and Salford to meet the demands of future population growth and further support the regional economy.

Left to right: TfGM chief executive Eamonn Boylan, NR chair Lord Hendy and TfGM managing director Steve Warrener. Photo Credit: Network Rail

As manager of Britain’s national rail infrastructure, NR owns over 90 stations in Greater Manchester. Over 5.6 million journeys are made a day on the TfGM network which includes commuter rail services operated by Northern as well as the Manchester Metrolink light rail system.

NR and TfGM say that their new partnership will help to deliver by 2030 fully integrated public transport network for Greater Manchester that includes local rail services.

Known as the Bee Network, this project has been made possible by the devolution of transport powers to Greater Manchester and £1bn of funding being provided by the British government under an agreement announced in March.

The delivery of a modern integrated transport system to make public transport the first choice and reduce reliance on the private car forms one of the key goals that NR and TfGM have committed to under the collaboration agreement.

They have also pledged to adopt a joined-up approach to securing additional funding and maximising commercial development opportunities around stations, and to consider each station within its community, heritage and cultural context to ensure wider social value is delivered.

NR and TfGM say they will ensure that combating climate change and achieving net zero is a key focus and a priority when making strategic decisions. Regeneration programmes will improve accessibility inside and around the stations and deliver ease of movement between the stations and the wider city.

“This is a landmark moment for Manchester and Salford, to see our two organisations build a partnership team to make the best of our resources and expertise,” Hendy says.

“Working jointly with the local authorities we are putting passengers and rail services at the forefront of infrastructure investment and wider neighbourhood improvements.”

“As we deliver our Bee Network plans for a truly integrated network, it is vital our stations and surrounding areas evolve to meet these demands, and this new partnership signifies our joint commitment alongside Manchester and Salford to delivering a modernised railway that puts passengers and local communities at its heart,” says Mr Vernon Everitt, transport commissioner for Greater Manchester.

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