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Manchester Could Get Its Own Crossrail, But Don't Bet On It


They say the best place to hide is often in plain site: and that is certainly true of Transport for Greater Manchester's plans for the city's own Crossrail.

Buried on page 55 of their Transport Strategy for Greater Manchester 2040, published in February 2017, was the innocuous suggestion: "Our priorities for extending the capacity and coverage of the rapid transit network will include ... providing additional cross-city capacity in the regional centre for existing and future rail-based rapid transit services, potentially by means of tunnelling."

In case you missed it, they mention the tunnel again on page 81 (developing a "rapid transit access strategy, encompassing Metrolink, tram-train and potential rail tunnel proposals").

Now the suggestion has been given a timely revival, as Manchester commuters struggle with the chaos of the new Northern Rail timetable and a growing sense that the Northern Powerhouse has delivered more promises than investment in the city's infrastructure.

A city council consulation next month could be the means of injecting life into the proposals, the Manchester Evening News reports.

The idea of an underground rail line in Manchester has a long and entirely unsuccessful history dating back as far as 1903: The most recent proposals for the so-called Picc-Vic Tunnel, linking the two main railway terminals, collapsed in 1977.

London's Crossrail project — including a long tunnelled stretch under central London — opens this year. It is 73 miles long and cost £14.8B. Earlier this year the government indicated it would support a second London Crossrail at a cost of £31B, running north to south. In the same period it declined to fund the electrification of the Manchester-Leeds transpennine route saying the business case was not made.