Work has started on a £12m project to ease congestion at one of the busiest small stations in Greater Manchester. Salford Crescent station has only a small island platform but is used by nearly 1.5m passengers every year and is a key interchange point for several rail routes converging on Manchester. It is also used by students from the nearby University of Salford.
Network Rail route managing director Jo Kaye explained: “In the peak periods the station becomes very congested, with large numbers of passengers waiting for trains mixing with those changing trains or leaving the station.
“This work will effectively de-clutter the station by relocating the ticket office and extending the platforms to give passengers more room to move around.”
The ticket office is immediately at the bottom of a passenger ramp leading to the platforms. This creates a pinch point between passengers buying tickets and those trying to leave the station.
The new ticket office will be built at road level on University Road West, freeing up a large amount of space on the platforms.
Lee Wasnidge, area director for Northern Rail adds: “We’re delighted to see the start of the work here at Salford Crescent. The planned improvements will bring significant benefits and help make positive changes to our passengers’ journeys.”
A new footbridge will be built linking the ticket office with the platforms. It will lead to a completely new lift and new steps from the footbridge, making the station much more accessible to passengers than it currently is.
To give even more space, the existing waiting room will be removed and the station will have a new platform canopy and seating.
The passenger information screens and station announcements system will also be renewed.
The platforms will be lengthened in both directions to give a staggered effect, which will encourage passengers to occupy their full length rather than congregate in the middle.
Salford City Council’s assistant mayor for transport and vice-chair of the Transport for Greater Manchester committee, Roger Jones, said: “The renovation of Salford Crescent rail station is a welcome development for a rapidly growing section of the city.
“The work needed to complete the renovation, funded by Network Rail, will be offset by the years of effective service to the local community that will be created by the project.
“With passenger numbers in the city set to expand rapidly, the new Salford Crescent will provide a much-improved hub for rail travel and an enhanced gateway to the University of Salford, the Chapel Street regeneration area and beyond to MediaCityUK.”
The improved Crescent station will complement the recent highway and public realm work to Chapel Street and the Crescent carried out by Salford City Council. The work will contribute to the regeneration of the Chapel Street area and will benefit the University of Salford’s aspirations to enhance the main Peel Park campus and accessibility to the new MediaCityUK campus.
Work is expected to be finished early in 2014 and the station will remain open throughout.
The original intention had been to close the station for three months. This would have meant the work being completed much quicker but at the expense of considerable inconvenience to passengers.