Transforming Greater Manchester's Transport System

The Greater Manchester transport network has come on leaps and bounds over the last 10 years. Not only does the city boast a sophisticated Metrolink system connecting its two main train stations with outlying areas of City Region, but it also has an extensive bus network, soon to be controlled under a single franchise framework, a citywide rail network and the busiest airport outside of London.

Transport in Greater Manchester

"One of the most important issues is to ensure that the Greater Manchester transport network is resilient."

These modes of transport have had a huge impact on the way people live and commute in and around this great city. But, to have a truly resilient transport system and reach the city’s future carbon zero objective, there needs to be a more holistic strategy for the Greater Manchester region.  Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, must understand where the gaps are in the city’s ability to become resilient and truly competitive. This is more important now than ever, as competition between UK and global cities continues to increase exponentially. Manchester needs to stand out at an international level. 


Regional connectivity 

One of the main challenges holding back the North’s productivity is the lack of connectivity between Greater Manchester and the wider Norther Powerhouse region. Access to Manchester city centre from the wider Northern region often takes longer than coming from London, while commuting between Manchester and Leeds – a journey of less than 50 miles – can take 40% longer than you would expect from such a relatively short distance. Put simply, getting to and around Greater Manchester is just not easy enough. 

Things are starting to change. Manchester is a key part of the Northern Powerhouse and the drive to align its strengths with those of neighbouring cities will go a long way towards boosting productivity and rebalancing the nation’s economy. The Northern Powerhouse Rail campaign is a case in point. This would be transformational for businesses in the North; increasing capacity across the network, creating badly-needed jobs and making the nation’s economy more balanced, increasing the UK’s overall productivity.  

A resilient network 

One of the most important issues is to ensure that the Greater Manchester transport network is resilient. From environmental issues to security, more needs to be done to ensure Manchester’s transport is fit for the future. 

Manchester is an industrial city. Typically, this means less green space, congestion problems and no diesel restrictions. For this reason, environmental resiliency has to be high on the agenda. It’s encouraging that early steps have already been taken with the metro system and the implementation of a dockless cycle scheme earlier this year, proving that the city is moving in the right direction. 

Looking to the future

Encouragingly, capital is beginning to be made available across the region. Recent political support with the announcement of a £400million fund from the Transport Secretary is a good start, but we will need more to realise the vision of a connected North. The collective voice of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership has garnered strong political support for the vision of rebalancing the UK economy, thus we have an extremely positive environment for developing more UK-wide transport infrastructure. The Northern Powerhouse region alone has more than £13bn of combined infrastructure opportunity to 2021, with schemes such as the Manchester Airport Transformation Programme and Network Rail’s Transpennine Route Upgrade now coming to the fore.

The priority must be for Manchester to take full advantage of this opportunity, creating a transport network that makes connections around the North and Greater Manchester and to the wider Northern powerhouse region easier, not only now but into the future.  



Look out for the launch of the Arcadis Urban Mobility Report on the 31 October to find out how well you really know your city.