photo - Greater Manchester Planning Oversight Group

Partnership development launches to deliver a better integrated and more locally accountable Greater Manchester rail network

  • Transport for Greater Manchester and Great British Railways Transition Team are working on a partnership to deliver a more locally accountable railway in Greater Manchester
  • Partnership aims to support ‘London-style’ transport network with integrated rail, bus, Metrolink and active travel in one, simple to use system
  • Today marks the formal start of partnership working between local transport and national railway leaders

Hot on the heels of the launch of Greater Manchester’s Bee Network, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and Great British Railways Transition Team (GBRTT) has today (18 October) formally started work to deliver a more locally accountable and integrated rail network in Greater Manchester.

This industry-leading collaboration, which brings the railway and city-region together, supports the ambitions outlined in the Trailblazer Deeper Devolution Deal which was agreed between Greater Manchester and Government in March this year.

The partnership supports the delivery of TfGM’s Bee Network vision for a sustainable, integrated, low-cost, high-frequency public transport system in Greater Manchester, with the ambition to integrate local rail into the Bee Network by 2030. It will also support GBRTT’s vision for a simpler, better railway by ensuring that an improved customer experience, and closer working relationship with key partners, is at the heart of the future of the railway.

The partnership will support: 

  • The roll-out of 'tap-in, tap-out' Pay As You Go (PAYG) technology to enable fares simplification and seamless journeys on different modes of transport across the GM region. TfGM, GBRTT and the Department for Transport (DfT) are already working together to develop the first contactless pilot on rail in Greater Manchester. Due to be launched in 2025, the pilot is envisaged for services between Stalybridge and Victoria, and Glossop and Piccadilly (subject to confirmation by DfT and funding). 
  • Moves towards a fully integrated, sustainable, fairer and accessible travel experience for passengers through the roll out of the new Bee Network, enabling better integration between train, Metrolink, bus and active travel such as walking and cycling.
  • Better integration of rail stations into the Bee Network, subject to final business case approval and funding. In the short term, this will make it easier for passengers to change between the Bee Network and the railway by considering how the Bee network brand features at rail stations.

Rufus Boyd, Interim GBRTT Lead Director, said: “Our current railway system has lost focus on customers and doesn't align to the new model of political devolution. 

“A future guiding mind for rail can tackle this by bringing different parties together so that decisions about train services are made at the most local level possible, by people who know what's best for Greater Manchester.

“This new partnership brings together key organisations involved in the city-region's transport with the aim of enabling people to make and pay for journeys seamlessly across trains, buses, trams and bikes. This improved connectivity and joint approach can unlock jobs, housing and economic growth across the city region."

Vernon Everitt, Transport Commissioner for Greater Manchester, said: “The delivery of the first phase of bus franchising alongside the existing Metrolink tram network lays the ground for integrated public transport through Greater Manchester’s Bee Network by January 2025. We then want to go further.

“By setting up this partnership with GBRTT we will work together to integrate local rail into the Bee Network by 2030. This will provide customers and businesses with access to joined-up journeys with simple fares and ticketing and high-quality real-time information and will transform transport for people across our growing city-region.” 

Partnership development will be overseen by a Partnership Oversight Group (POG) which brings together expertise from across the sector, such as Network Rail, Transport for the North, the Department for Transport and others to help drive innovative ideas to benefit the people and businesses of Greater Manchester. 

By getting all the right people around the table, the Partnership Oversight Group will streamline negotiations, and help unlock genuinely dynamic and agile decision making. 


Notes to editors

  • This is a precursor to the partnership with Great British Railways (GBR), as per the Trailblazer Deeper Devolution Deal.
  • A partnership is also currently being developed with West Midlands. Negotiations with East Midlands Councils/ Transport for the East Midlands and Transport for the North will intensify in 2024.
  • Further partnerships will be rolled out across the country, once GBR is established.