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05 April 2006

Turn Metrolink into a cycle path

CUTTING edge: The Friends of the Fallowfield Loop.CUTTING edge: The Friends of the Fallowfield Loop.

CAMPAIGNERS say that the disused railway cutting set aside for south Manchester’s proposed Metrolink line should become a bridleway for walkers and cyclists until the trams gets the final go ahead.

The Friends of the Fallowfield Loop already look after a cycle path built along a disused railway line from Chorlton through Fallowfield and Levenshulme to Gorton.

Now they believe the Didsbury spur, which would link Chorlton to Parrs Wood in Didsbury, could be converted at relatively little cost.

Friends spokesman Steve Keeney said: "The line is earmarked for the Metrolink development and we all want to see the tram lines built.

"But given the uncertainty over the time scale we feel that we would all benefit from an interim development as a safe, traffic-free route for walking and cycling. This could then be maintained alongside the tramline when it is built. In the meantime a great opportunity is being missed to develop safe off-road routes for residents, or children making their way to the schools nearby.

"The Fallowfield Loop was built by Sustrans for £600,000 so I’m sure it could be done for a reasonable amount."

Mr Keeney said the path could be connected to the Fallowfield Loop where the lines meet at a spot near to Mauldeth Road West. He added: "This would allow many more local journeys, too short to use the tram for, to be carried out on foot or bicycle."

The Fallowfield loop was previously part of the old Manchester Central Station Railway, built in the 1890s and closed in 1988. The line was mainly used to transport goods to from the Manchester canals when steam trains ruled the rails.

Michael Renshaw, GMPTE’s Projects Director, said: "We would be happy to meet with members of the Friends of Fallowfield Loop to discuss their proposals for the disused railway line between Chorlton and Didsbury in more detail.

"We are committed to encouraging people out of their cars and onto other forms of transport. We worked closely with Manchester City Council and Sustrans to develop the Fallowfield Loop between St Werburgh's Road and Chorlton, using some GMPTE land. However, it is vital that the Friends of Fallowfield Loop’s proposals for the disused railway line do not negatively impact on our plans to extend the Metrolink network to Didsbury.

"We are concerned that it may not be possible to have both schemes running side-by-side at a number of locations between Chorlton and Didsbury."

First published by the South Manchester Reporter

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