Monday, December 18, 2006


Metrolink Madness?

In amongst the eating at last night's party was a serious chat about the future of the Metrolink, and the fact that the entire Bury line is going to be shut for a substantial part of 2007 whilst tracks are being renovated.

I think it’s great that the track is being updated – At the moment it’s like riding on one of those Pirate Galleons at the funfair at times, it’s so rickety. And it’s fantastic news for residents living near to the tracks who have been blighted by the noise for years – but I am worried about the effects that such a long-term closure will have on Prestwich, and the ability of residents to travel. There is a definite lack of information on the Metrolink website. In fact, I can’t see it mentioned anywhere. Lots of people seem to be unaware that it’s going to happen at all, and even less have a grasp of the details.

Which bits of track will be closed when? And for how long? Metrolink is crazily busy in peak hours. How are all of these people going to get to work? Replacement buses take much longer, and a lot of the stations aren’t easy to reach by bus. Roads are already jammed, so forcing many more people into their cars will be a disaster. With any luck, Bury New Road might get some more buses, but it’s unlikely given that the only station near to the road is Prestwich. All the other stations are much nearer Bury Old Road, already well-served by the 135 and other services.

What about people who have bought annual tickets? Will they be compensated? What about people relying on the service to get to North Manchester General Hospital? I don’t know the answer because there’s been a lack of communication at all levels. Where was the consultation? Did I miss it? What about alternatives, like weekend closures or closing one track at a time? Have they been considered?

I use the Met fairly regularly, and I have long been dissatisfied by the experience. It’s too expensive, too noisy, too rickety, very unreliable, dirty and not properly policed both in terms of fare-dodgers and anti-social behaviour on board. There are good points - it is very fast and, when running to time, is very convenient. I know it’s very popular, but I think this comes out of necessity and a lack of viable alternatives, rather than a genuine desire to use the service.

Some of these problems will be addressed with renovations. But in terms of customer services and making Metrolink a more palatable prospect for lots of people, the lack of information about the closure does no good at all.


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