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TRAVEL: Mancunian way closed in Manchester

A57(M) Mancunian Way Eastbound closed, queueing traffic due to flooding between A56 Chester Road / A57 Dawson Street / B5218 Chorlton Road (Chester Road Roundabout) and A635 Mancunian Way / A6 Downing Street / A6 London Road, congestion on A57 Regent Road to Gloucester Street and on A6042 Trinity Way to B5225 Prince's Bridge / B5225 Hampson Street. Police directing traffic.

Flooding causing travel disruption across the region

There's a warning for drivers to take extra care on the roads this morning Josh O'Neil from Oldham sent us this video of his journey. A number of service

  • MANCHESTER METROLINK - Service suspended on Manchester Metrolink between Manchester Airport and Trafford Bar, and between East Didsbury and Trafford Bar due to flooding at Firswood.
  • FIRST TRANSPENNINE EXPRESS - Delays of up to 25 minutes on First Transpennine Express between Manchester Piccadilly and Stalybridge due to flooding at Gorton.
  • NORTHERN RAIL: Delays of up to 25 minutes on Northern Rail between Manchester Piccadilly and Stalybridge due to flooding.

Flooding across the North West

Heavy rain is causing big problems across the North West today. Please check before you travel and check back here for updates.

Flooding in Levenshulme on Friday morning Credit: amosj5/ Joe Amos
  • M56 SHARSTON LINK - EASTBOUND - GREATER MANCHESTER, One lane blocked and very slow traffic due to accident on M56 Sharston Link Eastbound at J2 A560 / B5168 (Sharston), congestion on M56 to J4 (Wythenshawe) Lane two (of two) closed. Affecting traffic heading towards M60.
  • Mancunian Way eastbound, heading from Salford towards Ardwick, has been closed due to flooding.
Fire service are rescuing a driver who has become stranded in high water under the railway bridge on Crossley Road, Longsight Credit: MEN Syndication

More roadworks set for region's motorways

Busy motorway Credit: PA Images

The highways agency have announced plans for more so-called smart motorways in the North West.

Work is already ongoing on the M60 and 62 as part of £1.5bn worth of investment over an 80 mile stretch. Details of 7 new projects to start by 2020 will be announced later. The smart motorway schemes will use the latest technology to monitor traffic levels and variable speed limits will keep vehicles moving. The hard shoulder will also be converted into extra lanes.

In the short term it means delays and lower speed limits for drivers as improvements are made.


North West passengers won't get new trains for 5 years

Rail passengers in the North West who have been promised improved services will have to put up with travelling in 1980s Pacer trains until 2020 under Government rail franchise plans announced today.

And even this phasing out in five years' time has been questioned on value-for-money grounds by the Department for Transport's permanent secretary Philip Rutnam.

Earlier this week Mr Rutnam wrote to Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin saying there would be large costs involved in replacing the Pacers with new trains, as well as "relatively few benefits".

Mr Rutnam said that investing in new trains would bring "no significant improvements in journey time, frequency or new services".

But Mr McLoughlin wrote back ordering Mr Rutnam to proceed with approving the invitations to tender for the new Northern and TransPennine Express (TPE) franchises, whose terms include the 2020 replacement of the Pacers.

Mr McLoughlin said there were "wider issues to consider" and described the Pacers as uncomfortable and of low-quality.

Today, announcing the invitations to tender, Mr McLoughlin and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the requirements successful bidders will have to meet meant huge improvements for northern England train travellers.

They said there would be more services, more seats and improved facilities, with Mr Clegg describing it as "an historic moment for the North".

But rail unions dubbed the announcement "a pre-election stunt", with the RMT saying the plans would "condemn passengers to poor-quality, unsafe and de-staffed services".

The new nine-year Northern franchise starts on April 1 2016 and on the same day a new seven-year TPE franchise will start.

The Northern franchise operates local, commuter and rural services throughout the region, and a number of long-distance services linking major towns and cities such as Leeds, Sheffield, Nottingham, York, Manchester, Bradford, Preston and Blackpool.

The TransPeninne Express franchise provides longer-distance intercity-type services, connecting the major cities of Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester, Hull, Liverpool, Edinburgh and Glasgow, as well as Manchester Airport.

Companies shortlisted to run the new franchises were announced last August. Competing for Northern are Arriva, Govia and Northern, while on the shortlist for TPE are FirstGroup, Keolis/Go Ahead and Stagecoach.

Transport Secretary 'can't be bothered commenting on unions'

Announcing promises that rail passengers in the north will get more seats, services and trains the Transport Secretary told Granada, "I can't be bothered with commenting on the RMT."

Patrick McLoughlin was responding to comments from rail unions that the plans are 'pie-in the-sky electioneering.'

"I thought the RMT would have welcomed it." He added, "all they seem to be able to do is to complain."

Northern and TransPennine franchises will be re-let next year, bidders will need to be able to introduce new trains and 200 new services.

Read the full story here.

Unions condemn new rail plans

"In reality these plans will condemn passengers to poor quality, unsafe and de-staffed services for years to come.

"The tender documents allow bidders to axe guards and move to driver-only operation, compromising safety in the interests of private profit.

"Any new trains are light years away with passengers forced to endure the misery of the clapped-out Pacers, and the ancient London Underground rolling stock that's heading North, way off into the future."

– Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT

Rail plans are 'pie-in-the-sky' says union

"This is all pie-in-the-sky electioneering by ministers who are using their taxpayer-funded posts to stage pre-election stunts at our expense.

"It cannot be coincidence that they are saying this in the North 10 weeks before Nick Clegg looks destined to lose his seat in Sheffield."

"They have had five years to do something about investing in rail in the North but have instead invested billions in the South. This is all too little, too late."

– Manuel Cortes, leader of the TSSA rail union
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