South Manchester Line extension to open three months ahead of schedule
Since the end of this February, Rochdalians and Oldhamers have enjoyed a direct tram link to Chorlton-cum-Hardy. From next Thursday, a day before Whit Friday, the South Manchester Line will be extended to East Didsbury. East of its current terminus at St. Werburgh’s Road, there will be five new stops. Before reaching its terminus at East Didsbury, they will call at Withington, Burton Road, West Didsbury and Didsbury Village.
The South Manchester Line continues along the former Midland Railway route, hitherto the preserve of London St. Pancras trains from Manchester Central railway station. Before being closed by the Beeching Cuts, the Midland Pullman’s purpose built train sets operated via West Didsbury.
From East Didsbury, transfer onto Stockport and Macclesfield bound buses will be eased by a footpath linking the tram platforms with Parrs Wood Lane. Metrolink passengers wishing to transfer onto Northern Rail’s Manchester Airport service at East Didsbury station should allow at least five minutes walk.
Withington station will be ideally positioned for Princess Road buses into Wythenshawe. Burton Road station will also be handy for Withington Baths, plus Stagecoach Manchester services 111 [Southern Cemetery] and 178 [Wythenshawe Hospital or Stockport]. Tennis fans may be happy with West Didsbury station’s position next to the Northern Lawn Tennis Club. It is handily placed for the shops on Lapwing Lane and connections to Longsight on the 169 [Ashton-under-Lyne – Droylsden – Southern Cemetery] route. Didsbury Village station will also be handy for the village’s vibrant bars, shops and cafés. Fog Lane Park and Fletcher Moss Botanical Gardens are a short distance away.
With this part of the South Manchester Line opening three months ahead of schedule, it augurs well for the completion of the Droylsden to Ashton and Oldham town centre sections. Here’s hoping.
S.V., 14 May 2013.