Connect with us


Future of Metrolink ‘unclear’ as passenger numbers fall and government funding ends

The government bailout received during the lockdown is set to end this October

Avatar photo



David Dixon / Geograph

Metrolink’s future is ‘unclear’ as government funding ends and passenger numbers plummet, transport bosses have revealed today.

During the Covid lockdowns, Metrolink received a £278m bailout from the government as a result of declining passenger numbers, which have fallen from 45.6m to 30.6m over the last twelve months.

This bailout included a recovery grant of £124m between March 2020 and April 2022, including an extra payment of £20.5m to aid the service until October this year.

However, with the service continuing to experience declining passenger numbers, energy bills soaring to unprecedented costs and the government funding coming to an end, transport bosses have admitted Metrolink’s future is ‘unclear’.

Dr Neil Clifton / Wikimedia Commons

At the start of this year, Metrolink boss Danny Vaughan warned he couldn’t rule out fare hikes or service cuts, telling the Manchester Evening News that rocketing electricity prices would lead to a £6m increase in operating costs this year.

Vaughan said with other bills and passenger decline factored in, this would result in losses of up to £40m.

Roger Jones, the former chairman of the Bus Services Committee, said there may be an argument for reducing some schedules if cash can’t be found, but said a better direction would be to cut fares to boost subsidy.

He said: “Metrolink has never been properly subsidised which is why fares are higher than we’d like. If the Government won’t make up the deficit we have to find some money through council tax or somewhere.”

David Dixon / Geograph

Referencing Andy Burnham’s plan to bring the region’s buses back into public control, Jones added: “If one of the purposes of reducing fares on buses is to get more passengers then maybe we’ve got to do the same thing with trams.

“I think all of us accept that if trams could receive the same subsidy as trains and buses fares would be much lower. But we shouldn’t start cutting Metrolink, it’s taken us so long to expand the network, the last thing we want to see is a reduction.”

Meanwhile, the government has said that operators need to ‘develop effective and financially sustainable networks in light of changing travel patterns post-pandemic’.

Transport Commissioner Vernon Everitt said they remain in ‘continuous dialogue’ with the government about funding for the Metrolink, and that they were grateful for cash already received.

David Dixon / Geograph

He said: “The current funding package runs until October and it remains unclear what will happen after that. What is clear, however, is that we will need further support while we take action ourselves to attract more people to the network and return it to a sound financial footing.

“We have already seen encouraging signs in passenger numbers, especially for leisure trips, and we must continue to offer frequent and reliable transport services as a sustainable alternative to car use in our growing region.

“We are taking decisive action to attract more ridership through the creation of the Bee Network. Single bus fares are being capped at just £2 for adults, and we will also be launching a major new campaign to promote the benefits of public transport.

“We will work with employers to help promote this too. In a little over a year, we will see the first franchised bus routes in operation and we will begin to integrate our value for money fares offer across Metrolink and buses to make everything simpler to use.

“We’ll integrate the local rail network into this in due course too.”


Man arrested after mum pushing pram stabbed and killed in broad daylight

A man has been arrested on suspicion of murder

Avatar photo



West Yorkshire Police

Police have arrested a 25-year-old man wanted for the fatal stabbing of a woman while she was pushing her baby in a pram in Bradford.

Police have arrested a suspect, following the murder of Kulsuma Akter, 27. Akter was stabbed several times in the Westgate area of Bradford city centre on Saturday afternoon. 

The mother was rushed to hospital, where despite the best efforts of medics, she sadly succumbed to her injuries. Her baby was unharmed in the incident.

It has also emerged that suspect, Habibur Masum, was on bail for assaulting and threatening to kill her at the time of the attack.

West Yorkshire Police

Masum was conditionally bailed by Manchester Magistrates’ Court in November, despite prosecutors objecting to his release, it is understood.

Court documents show Masum, whose address was listed as Oldham, Greater Manchester, was charged with assaulting Ms Akter on November 23rd and threatening to kill her on November 24th.

Both incidents are alleged to have happened in Greater Manchester. Police had previously confirmed the couple were known to each other but have not confirmed their relationship. 

Masum attended a hearing on November, 27th 2023, where he pleaded not guilty to both offences and was ordered not to contact Ms Akter, it is understood.

West Yorkshire Police

His bail conditions also prevented him from contacting a second person, or visiting a particular address.

Greater Manchester Police has said it is supporting West Yorkshire Police with the ongoing murder investigation.

Both forces have referred themselves to the Independent Office for Police Conduct watchdog over previous contact with Masum and Ms Akter.

Detective Superintendent Jude Holmes, from GMP Oldham district, said: “We share the shock and concern that our communities feel in the wake of this tragic incident, and our thoughts are with Kulsuma Akter’s family at this truly distressing time.

“Habibur Masum is wanted by West Yorkshire Police on suspicion of murder. Due to his links to Greater Manchester, we have our specialist officers following several lines of enquiry to locate him.

“I urge members of the public to remain vigilant, and if you have any information on his whereabouts, call 999 as a matter of urgency.

“Due to previous police contact with Habibur Masum and Kulsuma Akter, Greater Manchester Police has made a referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.”

Police have arrested a 25-year-old man on suspicion of murder. A 23-year-old man was also arrested in Cheshire on suspicion of assisting an offender.

Continue Reading


Hunt for murder suspect after mum pushing pram killed in broad daylight

It is not clear whether is Masum is armed as police warn not to approach him

Avatar photo



West Yorkshire Police

Police are searching for a man from Oldham after a mum was stabbed to death in Bradford while pushing her baby in a pram.

Habibur Masum, 25, is wanted over the attack which took place in the Westgate area of Bradford at 3.21pm on Saturday (April 6th).

The victim, a 27-year-old woman, suffered multiple stab wounds and was taken to hospital where she sadly died of her injuries, West Yorkshire Police said.

West Yorkshire Police

The force also confirmed the baby was not harmed in the attack as the public is warned not to approach Masum.

It is understood Masum was known to the victim although police have not confirmed their relationship at this time. A knife was found at the scene but it is unclear if he is armed.

Masum was pictured on CCTV wearing a grey hooded, zip-up coat with three large horizontal lines of grey, white and black on it, grey tracksuit bottoms with a black logo and burgundy trainers. 

West Yorkshire Police

A witness also reported seeing him wearing a grey hoodie with the hood up shortly after the incident on Westgate, at the junction with Drewton Road.

Masum is from Oldham and is believed to have links to Burnley and Chester. He is described as an Asian man, of slim build.

Detective Chief Inspector Stacey Atkinson said: “We have had significant resources following up a number of lines of inquiry to locate Habibur Masum but at this time his whereabouts are unknown.

“I would urge anyone who does see him not to approach him but to call 999 immediately.”

Google Maps

She said the death of such a young woman in the ‘most awful circumstances’ will ‘understandably cause concern in the local community’.

Detective Chief Inspector Atkinson Added: “I would like to reassure the wider public that we are working tirelessly to investigate this horrendous crime and bring the person responsible to justice.

“To help us with this we are urging anyone who was in the area who may have dashcam footage or seen or heard something, however small it may seem, to please come forward.

“A scene remains in place which includes some road closures and I thank the public for their patience while we conduct our enquiries.”

Continue Reading


Man arrested in murder investigation after human torso found in Salford nature reserve

A man in his 20s is being questioned by police

Avatar photo



@gmpolice / X

A man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after a human torso was found wrapped in plastic in a nature reserve in Salford.

As detectives continue to investigate the discovery of human remains found by a passerby on Thursday, April 4th, a man in his 20s from Salford was taken into custody on Saturday evening for questioning, Greater Manchester Police say.

DNA testing is being carried out to determine the identity of the victim, who is believed to be a male ‘likely to be aged older than 40’ and ‘has only been deceased for a matter of days’, officers say.

@gmpolice / X

GMP says it is conducting a thorough search of the area by utilising local officers and specialist branches including search dogs and assistance from underwater search teams, to help comb the site.

The force says although it has ‘not found anything else that is of interest to the investigation’, ‘work will not stop’ until it is certain the area has been thoroughly searched.

Chief Superintendent Tony Creely, of GMP’s Salford district, said: “The arrest we made yesterday evening is an important step for our investigation, but we must keep an open mind and a big part of this is speaking to anyone who may have crucial information.

“As we continue to work in the area, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the public for their concern and cooperation so far, and we are mindful this is a disturbing incident for the local community, but I can assure you that since we were made aware, we’ve been pursuing every single line of enquiry to help us find out what has happened.

“I cannot stress the importance of people contacting us with information if they know anything at all. You may have information that you don’t feel is of importance, but it could be to us, please pass it on, it could be the key piece of information we need to progress this investigation.”

Anyone who thinks they may have witnessed something suspicious in the Kersal Dale area over the last few days is urged to call GMP on 101 and quoting log number 2695 of April, 4th 2024.

A dedicated portal for anyone to submit images or video footage which could help police can be found HERE.


Continue Reading

Receive our latest news, events & unique stories

Privacy and data policy

We may earn a commission when you use one of our links to make a purchase

Copyright © 2024 Manchester's Finest Group