The Metrolink Debate

Jack Simpson

Head of Marketing and Communications

So it goes

In light of the on-going construction of the Oldham Metrolink, as well as the commuter upheaval and NIMBY (not in my back yard) protests that precede it, this article will discuss the benefits of the project that may get overlooked by locals in the initial stages of development. Commuters who drive their cars to work (like the majority of the Web Applications UK office) face lane restrictions, relentless traffic and noise pollution on their journey around Oldham. It is reasonable therefore for these commuters along with the residents of Oldham to question the project for which these sacrifices are being made.

The plan is fairly straightforward. The Metrolink is to be extended from the Bury line just outside the city centre to Oldham and Rochdale. Millions are being invested into the scheme because officials believe it is a plan that will benefit Oldham in the long run.

If we look at the case-study of Bury, a town that was linked to the Manchester Metro system in 1992, the potential benefits are clear to see. A study by Knowles (1999) indicated that the Metrolink attracted more passengers to the area than was forecasted and more car-users than expected switched to travelling by Metrolink which led to a fall in car traffic volumes in the Bury corridor during peak and off-peak times. Other local factors attributed to the Bury Metrolink were a rise in house prices, a wealth of new businesses and higher employment rates. The rejuvenation of Bury could be considered a reasonable indicator of the treasures the Metrolink could offer Oldham.

The implications of the scheme also range beyond transport and economic matters. Building the Metrolink will involve the restoration of over a hundred bridges and structures (some historic) along the route as well as improved drainage systems, which will serve to better the surrounding area. This will result in a much more pleasant and scenic route from Manchester and Rochdale into Oldham, whether travelling by car or tram.

In terms of Web Applications UK, what could the Metrolink – a mere stone’s throw away from the Windsor Works building – bring to the business? Our business will become altogether more accessible, not just for commuting employees but also for clients (and prospective clients), who will find the journey from Manchester City Centre altogether more direct and convenient. This accessibility could, in turn, create a larger pool of clients for our products, as well as a larger range of potential employees.

The enormity of the project and the prospects it may offer Oldham are far greater than the temporary annoyances of contending with rush-hour traffic, the effects of which are likely to be lessened ultimately by the improved infrastructure. Is the occasional traffic jam all we have to pay for a potential gold-mine of opportunities? It’s a deal.

For further information, visit the Transport for Greater Manchester website: http://www.metrolink.co.uk/futuremetrolink/oldham-and-rochdale-line.asp.