Mayor Andy Burnham’s Vision for Greater Manchester’s Rail Services

Mayor Andy Burnham's Vision for Greater Manchester's Rail Services

Greater Manchester (Parliament News) – Andy Burnham vows to fast-track integration of local rail into Bee Network, aiming for full implementation by 2028.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has promised to accelerate the integration of local rail services into the developing Bee Network of public transport requirements if he is re-elected on May 2. The Bee Network is a locally generated brand already being involved in Manchester Metrolink light rail services, and slowly being rolled out across buses as branches of the city region move into franchised bus functions.

According to Railwaygazette, the aim is to facilitate the evolution of a fully integrated, account-based ticketing system for Greater Manchester, with recognisable components such as everyday fare capping and touch-in/out functionality already widely deployed in cities almost the world, including London.

Burnham expresses his officials have recognised eight regional rail corridors for integration into the branding and ticketing area, a strategy he hopes could be achieved by 2028.This list includes two routes already recognised for a trial of pay-as-you-go ticketing in 2025 under an arrangement announced by Rail Minister Huw Merriman on February 1 covering 17 stations.

A more comprehensive roll-out of PAYG on local rail services had been planned for completion by 2030, but Burnham acknowledges this timescale is too slow. ‘We desire it by 2028 and we don’t see any reason why people should have to wait. We’ve shown the Bee Network can be introduced in a three-year timeframe, so we believe rail can be integrated in a similar timeframe as well.’

One element of local rail services around Manchester is that many paths cross local authority borders to help large communities outside the city region; neither Buxton nor Glossop are in Greater Manchester, for instance. Burnham states this is going to be addressed, conveying that he had already been ‘lobbied by MPs in those areas who whine about their lack of access to the Greater Manchester scheme and they’re calling for improvements. I did confer them and I got strong support; it’s going to be useful for people in Glossop, and we’ll continue to work with all of our neighbours to make sure that things are done right.’

He also conveyed that he had held discussions with his mayoral counterpart in Liverpool, Steve Rotheram, about developing Bee Network ticketing coverage to positions on the route from Wigan to Southport, which is an effective commuter artery to and from Manchester. ‘He understands why, because it is a Manchester commuter line and that is why it should sit within the Bee Network’, Burnham stated.

Speaking to the Northern Transport Summit at Manchester Airport on March 21, Burnham conveyed his frustration about the pace at which the rail industry has pushed to finalise its approach to multimodal smart ticketing. ‘Rail has got to reach with the Bee Network now’, he pointed delegates.

‘We need to see the same speed of change on integrating rail into the Bee Network as we have had with bus and tram and that needs culture change in the rail industry. It’s been hard to operate with the rail industry — there is a gap between us and we don’t want to be always arguing with it.’

Burnham indicated that the rail sector is ‘in denial’ over the quality of services it offers, adding that it was ‘frankly shady that 53% of our stations in Greater Manchester are not available to disabled people’.

Speaking to local press on the edges of the summit, Burnham counted that he recognised the potential sophistication of the ticketing changes. ‘The Treasury would harbour to sign off some of this because we’d have to adjust the way the railways are operating with regards to fares and ticketing. But indeed, I can say to you that we’ve all agreed to work in this way.’

Daniele Naddei

Daniele Naddei is a journalist at Parliament News covering European affairs, was born in Naples on April 8, 1991. He also serves as the Director of the CentroSud24 newspaper. During the period from 2010 to 2013, Naddei completed an internship at the esteemed local radio station Radio Club 91. Subsequently, he became the author of a weekly magazine published by the Italian Volleyball Federation of Campania (FIPAV Campania), which led to his registration in the professional order of Journalists of Campania in early 2014, listed under publicists. From 2013 to 2018, he worked as a freelance photojournalist and cameraman for external services for Rai and various local entities, including TeleCapri, CapriEvent, and TLA. Additionally, between 2014 and 2017, Naddei collaborated full-time with various newspapers in Campania, both in print and online. During this period, he also resumed his role as Editor-in-Chief at Radio Club 91.
Naddei is actively involved as a press officer for several companies and is responsible for editing cultural and social events in the city through his association with the Medea Fattoria Sociale. This experience continued until 2021. Throughout these years, he hosted or collaborated on football sports programs for various local broadcasters, including TLA, TvLuna, TeleCapri, Radio Stonata, Radio Amore, and Radio Antenna Uno.
From 2016 to 2018, Naddei was employed as an editor at newspapers of national interest within the circuit, including Internazionale24, Salute24, and OggiScuola. Since 2019, Naddei has been one of the creators of the Rabona television program "Calcio è Passione," which has been broadcast on TeleCapri Sport since 2023.