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Manchester to Oldham and Rochdale

The 22.5 kilometre former Oldham loop line has been converted to Metrolink, the last trains ran on Saturday 3 October 2009. Rail services continue on the Calder Valley line between Manchester, Rochdale and Leeds. During the conversion period; both commercial and GMPTE subsidised services bus in the area were modified, normal bus fares applied on all the services.

The line has been completely rebuilt, all the stops are new. Former station platforms and buildings have been removed. On 13 June 2012 services to Oldham Mumps started, they were extended to Shaw and Compton on 16 December 2012. Rochdale Railway Station services started on 28 February 2013. Oldham town centre line opened on 27 January 2014. Rochdale town centre line opened on 31 March 2014.

See City Centre for a description of Victoria, Piccadilly, Deansgate–Castlefield and the lines between them.

Manchester to Oldham

Oldham and Rochdale line diagram (53.4KB)

Leaving Victoria the line passes under Cheetham Hill Road bridge and joins the former Bury Electric Line Route. It initially rises with the Rochdale main line before falling to reach Collyhurst Tunnel, which curves to pass under the main line, and rises again. At Irk Valley Junction, about 1.8 kilometres from Victoria Station and near the Metrolink depot, this line branches off the Bury line. It runs over the Smedley viaduct and the eastern half of the Cheetham Hill loop line. A connection from the Depot towards Monsall is now in use.

Monsall, the first new stop has two side platforms to the west of Jocelyn Street. There are two foot paths from Monsall Street down to the outbound platform; a ramped one from near the junction with Rushwick Avenue, also a stepped one from a point east of the end of Lathbury Road. From Ruislip Avenue steps and a lift give access to the inbound platform. Cycle hoops and lockers are provided at this entrance. Ramps from platforms and a track level pedestrian crossing have been provided at the east end of the stop.

Central Park stop, an impressive structure with a feature canopy, is part of The Gateway a new entrance from Oldham Road to phase one of the business park. It is located to the north the railway line and on the west side of the road. Bus interchange facilities are also included. Stairs and a lift are provided between both side platforms and ground level. Ramps from platforms and a track level pedestrian crossing have been provided at the west end of the stop.

Oldham Road, the rail and Metrolink lines are at similar levels. The pedestrian route passes under both lines before rising again, towards Northampton Road. There is a steeper dive and rise for the roadway.

In the 320 metres between The Gateway and Thorp Road a new concrete bridge has been built to carry Metrolink. A central load bearing ‘fin’ along the top which supports this bridge; together with the twisting design enables it to pass over the railway and then quickly drop to go through a two track bridge under Thorp Road. Metrolink tracks then run alongside the railway towards Dean Lane.

At Newton Heath and Moston stop, formerly Dean Lane, the Manchester bound track and platform have been rebuilt for Metrolink. The single bi–directional line and platform is similar to Navigation Road on the Altrincham Line. A foot path has been provided, this splits into a long all ramped part and shorter part with some steps. Cycle hoops are provided at the road level. Double track running resumes beyond the stop.

Freight trains use the former Oldham bound track for access to the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Depot.

Failsworth stop has two new side platforms, both having steps and a lift from street to platform level. A ramp behind each platform gives access to a foot track level crossing at the north end of the stop.

Hollinwood stop has a stairway and lift from Hudson Street to each side platform. There are two sets of bollards across this street, fixed on the outbound and removable on the inbound side. Alongside the inbound line and south of Hudson Street; a decked car park opened on 1 September 2012, it provides 195 park-and-ride spaces exclusively for the use of Metrolink passengers. This stop is close to junction 22 on the M60. Ramps from the platforms to a track level foot crossing have been provided at the north end of the stop. These also connect with the existing shared use pedestrian/cycle path at the south end of the bridge over Hollinwood Avenue and the M60. Cycle lockers and hoops are provided adjacent to this point.

South Chadderton is between Drury Lane and Stanley Road. The embankment has been lowered here and the subway removed. A footpath, which passed through the subway, has been diverted slightly to the pedestrian track crossing at the stop. Located close to ground level, on the Manchester side of the former subway, both side platforms have access ramps and steps linking to the pedestrian track crossing and surrounding footpaths.

Freehold at Block Lane is a new two side platforms stop. The outbound platform is on the north–west side of the line, west of Block Lane and parallel with Agnes Street. Access is from Robinson Street, cycle hoops and lockers are provided here. A new footbridge over Block Lane on this side of the line and track level foot crossing link the platforms. The inbound platform on the south–east side of the line is east of Block Lane. Both platforms have stairway and lift access from ground to track level foot crossing/bridge level. A ramp and steps connect this level to each platform. Disabled parking and passenger drop–off is also provided east of Block Lane and north of Ridings Way.

Oldham temporary line

For phase 3a the railway line through Werneth station site, tunnels and south of Oldham Way was converted to Metrolink. A temporary Mumps island platform was the only stop; located next to the footbridge over Oldham Way and the tracks. It had ramps down to foot track level crossings. Through the old Mumps Station site; the track was lowered to, approximately, the level of Oldham Way.

The bridges plus retained embankment stonework and earth fill which carried the rail line over Mumps roundabout were removed. Mumps roundabout and its subways have been replaced by extending Oldham Way (A62) across the site to Bottom o’ th’ Moor. A new signal controlled ‘T’ junction was made with Lees Road. Metrolink Phase 3a crossed this junction under signal control at ground level. This phase 3a route has now closed.

Oldham town centre line

This begins at the bridge under Featherstall Road South. Leaving the former railway/phase 3a alignment the route turns northward, passing behind buildings on Featherstall Road South. Westwood Business Park has a new entrance on West Street. The route has a signal controlled crossing of West Street and runs to the west of Greenwood Builders. It turns eastward passing west then north of a covered reservoir, to run parallel with and along the south side of Middleton Road.

Westwood stop has 2 side platforms west of Winterbottom Street. There are steps from each platform to track level foot crossings at both ends of the stop. The outbound platform, adjacent to Middleton Road, also has a ramp towards the western track crossing; also the inbound platform has ramps towards both track crossings.

The line crosses Winterbottom Street at a signal controlled junction and then turn south running alongside the Oldham Way slip road. It passes under the flyover at surface level, through the section to the north of centre, and has signalled road crossings.

At Manchester Street roundabout pedestrian underpasses have been removed and replaced by a surface level footpath with signalled road and Metrolink crossings. This and two new road traffic lanes for eastbound road traffic from Manchester Street to Oldham Way pass through the centre section under the flyover.

From Manchester Street roundabout the line is in a cutting across an elevated area, previously occupied by The Pennine Way Hotel, before passing under John Street. Car park access arrangements have been modified, enabling the route to reach Oldham King Street stop.

After crossing King Street trams run along Union Street, sharing with road traffic till the junction with Peter & Hobson Streets. Between that junction and Clegg Street it is tram only with an island platform Oldham Central stop which has a ramp at both ends. East of Clegg Street there is sharing with road traffic till Prince Street, which has been extended to Oldham Way and is the new link road.

Crossing this link road the track curves slightly southward using the former car park and bus stop bays which were just south of Yorkshire Street. Oldham Mumps stop is just east of the link road with side platforms. East of the stop there are three saw tooth bus stop bays for each direction, on a bus only road between Mumps (road) and the junction of Lees Road with Oldham Way. (Away from Oldham town centre bus stops have moved.) The track to the east of the bus stops curves round to the left taking over the route between Bell and Brook Streets. Park and Ride facility has moved; access is via Regent Street, north of Mumps (road). This continues to provide a convenient tram/bus/car interchange.

Oldham to Rochdale

Derker stop is south of Yates Street. The inbound platform has a footpath access from Yates Street. The outbound platform has a lift and stairs from Yates Street; cycle stands and lockers are at the upper level. Ramps are provided from both platforms to a foot track level crossing at the south end of the stop. An over 250 space car park has opened.

Shaw and Crompton stop is south of Beal Lane. Platforms have ramps from pavement level. A single faced outbound platform is on the west side of the line. The double sided inbound platform is on the east side of the line, its western face for through trams and eastern face for terminating trams. Road traffic and tram signals have been provided for the line to cross Beal Lane. A remodelled car park, north of Beal Lane, provides 44 spaces. There are 5 cycle lockers and 5 ‘Sheffield style’ cycle stands to accommodate 10 bicycles, providing parking for 15 bicycles. In April 2015, to the south of Beal Lane, an additional 46 car parking spaces opened. This makes a total of 90, 7 of which are Blue Badge Bays. Two motorbike spaces have also been provided.

Newhey stop has two side platforms to the south–east of Huddersfield Road. The outbound (Rochdale) platform ramped path has a folded back route, with some steps shortening it. Cycle hoops and lockers are provided at road level of the inbound platform ramped and stepped paths.

Milnrow stop has two side platforms. The outbound (Rochdale) platform has a ramped path to Elizabethan Way also a stepped path to the southern end of Harbour Lane North. The inbound platform has a stepped path to the north–western end of the existing path between Harbour Lane North and car park. Both platforms have a ramp down a track foot crossing at the south–eastern/car park end. The inbound platform also has a short stepped path. Cycle hoops and lockers are provided between ramp and car park.

Kingsway Business Park stop serves the large scale Business Park development and housing on the other side of the line.

For Newbold the embankment between Kingsway and Milnrow Road has been altered so this stop is near ground level alongside the Morrisons supermarket car park. A new foot path from Kingsway runs alongside the outbound (Rochdale) track; which has foot level crossings to ramps at both ends of an island platform. There is a further short ramp to car park level. The route becomes single track to the south of the eastern Metrolink bridge over Milnrow Road.

A new three section flyover has been built within existing railway land. The sections are an earth embankment just to the north of the former loop line track, a new bridge over the main line and a concrete viaduct. After the east and west bridge abutments were built, the steel bridge was installed during a 72 hour possession of the rail line on 1st to 3rd January 2011. From the flyover, the route continues along a former loop line track bed.

High Level Road has been closed to road traffic, although there is a footpath along its full length. Just east of the bridge over Richard Street, the tram route crosses from railway to road alignment. It then becomes double track and turns right into a reserved way on the west side Maclure Road, this extends to Drake Street. Rochdale Railway Station stop is alongside the Health Centre and Church and has an island platform with a ramp the station end.

More than 200 park-and-ride spaces, at Hare Street, are available to passengers travelling on Metrolink and heavy rail services from Rochdale. The station subway, which had been closed for 36 years, has been refurbished and reopened on 10 July 2015; shortening the walking distance to both trains and trams.

Road junction layouts and one way street modifications have taken place. Northbound general traffic uses the the eastern side of Maclure Road to Drake Street. Southbound general traffic uses Richard Street and Station Road.

Rochdale town centre line

At the end of Maclure Road, a signal controlled junction allows trams to turn right onto a reserved section on the south side of Drake Street. Along Drake Street from the junction of Drake Street with Milnrow Road to Water Street there is shared on–street running, here general traffic turns into Water Street. Then the outbound track is tram only while the inbound is shared with a bus lane. There is a short single line section on the outbound track from the end of Fleece Street, over the Butts Bridge, to the town centre stop. Provision of the planned double track here would have required significant structural improvements to or replacement of Wellington Bridge over the River Roch.

The route terminates at Rochdale Town Centre stop on the north side of Smith Street, this is an island platform with ramps at both ends and track level pedestrian crossings at the Drake Street end. Rochdale Interchange, on the south side of Smith Street, opened on 17 November 2013.

Oldham and Rochdale Line: top of page

This page was written and illustrated by Tony Williams. Contact if you have any comments, ideas or suggestions about these pages.