Work to make life easier for tram and train users in Rochdale town centre is under way.
As part of the project a 40-metre-long section of currently disused underpass, accessed from Miall Street, will be re-opened and renovated, providing a much shorter and more accessible route from the park and ride car park and encouraging more public transport use.
The subway, which was closed 36 years ago and had fallen into disrepair, will be furnished with new signs, railings, LED lighting, CCTV, concrete flooring and a new drainage system.
Many of the heritage features from the original subway will be kept and restored, such as the ironwork, bridge decks, heritage railings, Yorkstone flooring and the brown, cream and light blue tiling inside the tunnel.
Historic photographs of how the station used to look will also be featured on the walls and railings. The work will be carried out by Jamieson Contracting.
Once completed, the new entrance will provide quick and easy access to both the railway station and the town centre Metrolink stop for travellers using the park and ride car park on Hare Street.
It will also complement the Northern Hub proposals, an investment by Network Rail in lines across the north of England. This scheme will see Rochdale benefit from a range of improvements including enabling a possible boost to the number of fast trains travelling from Rochdale to Manchester from four to six an hour.
“By improving passenger access to the car park, train platforms and Metrolink stop and cutting the walking distance by up to 300m, the project will enable public transport users to get around more quickly and easily in a much more safe and secure environment.”
Leader of Rochdale Borough Council and Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Councillor Richard Farnell, said: “It’s great to see that this important scheme is now underway. Rochdale town centre is improving fast and we need a modern transport system which can support our rapidly developing borough in the future.
“When combined with the northern hub proposals, this will help transform the economic fortunes of our borough and help create more jobs and opportunities by better connecting us to the rest of Greater Manchester and beyond.”
Ian Joslin, area director for Network Rail, said: “Reopening the subway and improving links between the station, car park and the Metrolink stop will contribute to a significant improvement of the station area.
"We are working with TfGM and Rochdale Council to deliver the work which will provide passengers with a better experience as they travel to or from Rochdale.”
The project will be funded by Transport for Greater Manchester, Rochdale Borough Council and Network Rail and is scheduled for completion in spring this year.