The Ashton-under-Lyne-Eccles Metrolink line is set to be ‘mothballed’ for up to two years, starting from 2024.
The tram would be replaced by a bus service for the duration of the works, but there have not been any guarantees from government that the replacement buses would be able to match the speed or capacity of the Metrolink line.
Whilst HS2 Ltd claim the redevelopment of Piccadilly Station as part of the project will create 40,000 new jobs and 13,000 new homes, many in the Tameside area have expressed concerns about the potential for the Metrolink to be out of action for such a long time.
Andrew Gwynne, Labour MP for Denton and Reddish clearly shares these concerns, labelling the potential closure as ‘disastrous’ for the borough of Tameside.
More than 2.7million trips had taken place on the line from its opening until 2020, and as the primary public transport option for much of the Tameside area the impact on the local community will be enormous.
A spokesman for the company has assured residents that work will be limited to ‘as short a duration as is reasonably possible’, but Tameside council have been pushing for a new depot to open at Ashton Moss, allowing the trams to run between Ashton and New Islington, avoiding a full closure of the Ashton-Piccadilly section of the line.
Mr. Gwynne has further alleged that Parliamentary rules were broken when HS2 Ltd was allowed to challenge a bill petition he submitted.
Andrew Gwynne, MP for Denton and Reddish spoke in the House of Commons on Thursday to complain that himself, Angela Rayner MP and Jonathan Reynolds MP must now go before the committee simply to have their petition heard at all.
Leader of the Commons, Penny Mordaunt concurred at the dispatch box, saying that “it would be very unusual if Members were prevented or discouraged from doing that”.
The reasons for the challenge from HS2 Ltd are unclear but do raise questions as to how exactly the government-subsidised body was able to submit such a challenge, provided that Mr. Gwynne is correct in his assessment that such a challenge goes against Parliament’s rules.