From the beginning of the Metrolink project it had been planned to serve Oldham, but it was only with the award of a contract for the construction of Phase 3 of Metrolink to MPT in 2008 that work finally started. There was a lot of preparatory work to do and the railway line didn’t close until 3rd October 2009. Metrolink services to Oldham Mumps commenced on 13th June 2012 and the service was extended to Shaw and Crompton on 16th December 2012. On 28th February 2013 it was further extended to Rochdale Railway Station.
The original funding was only sufficient to build a route using the route of the previous railway line but this was never the long-term ambition and very soon authority was given to build the route through Oldham town centre. The route on the railway line had to be built initially to provide a service but, recognising its short-term role, expenditure on it was minimised. For example the route contained short sections of bull head rail which would date from the 1950s at the latest.
The route through the town centre was completed towards the end of 2013 and following a period of driver training on the new section the last trams ran nominally on 17th January 2014, but as this was a Friday night the very last trams actually ran in the early hours of 18th January 2014. The last tram being 3057 which had also been the first tram to cross the road junction at Mumps and run towards Shaw and Crompton.
Thus came about the first significant closure of a section-generation tramway in the UK. Not in this case a cause for sadness, though, as the new route serves the town much better than the railway route could and has far superior interchange facilities, particularly at Oldham Mumps.
© David Beilby