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Metrolink Introduction > Airport Line: updated 28 July 2014
Construction of this line has been completed, it is now undergoing a thorough testing and commissioning process. When open it will be a new public transport corridor for the Western side of South Manchester; between the A56 Chester Road from Altrincham and the A5103 Princess Parkway. Linking central Manchester, Old Trafford, Chorlton, Wythenshawe, and Manchester Airport; it will greatly improve acces to areas south of the River Mersey, which are currently difficult to reach by public transport from the City Centre. Also it will form a quality link from various residential areas to Wythenshawe Town Centre, the Airport and associated development sites.
See City Centre for a description of Victoria, Piccadilly, Deansgate–Castlefield and the lines between them; also City South from Deansgate–Castlefield to Cornbrook, Trafford Bar and Chorlton.
On the diagram light green represents operating Metrolink routes. Under test Airport extension is shown in orange. Main line railways are shown blue.
This is a 14.5 km line which runs on a mostly segregated alignment with short sections of street–running. Most road crossings will have tram signals and traffic lights for road vehicles. South of Altrincham Road the route mainly uses the wide grass verges alongside roads. Most stops have two side platforms.
Original proposals for this line had more stops for its length than other lines. A value engineering review has shown that omitting some stops gives better value for money and improves journey times. Potential patronage; catchment areas, up to 800 metres walking distance from a stop is acceptable; overall journey times and distances between stops were considered.
At a junction, just to the south of St. Werburgh’s Road stop, the Airport line will diverge from the Didsbury line, rising and turning right. It will approach and run alongside the descending Mauldeth Road West; crossing the eastbound carriageway opposite Formby Avenue to run in the central reservation. Barlow Moor Road stop will be in the reservation and have a track level pedestrian crossing at the eastern end.
After crossing Barlow Moor Road, Metrolink will then run on–street, sharing Hardy Lane with road traffic. The Mersey Valley flood plain and River Mersey will be crossed on a low tram only viaduct structure passing to the south of Jackson’s Boat public house, with the route continuing on a low embankment to Sale Water Park island platform stop. This will have ramps down to track level pedestrian crossings of the inbound line. Alongside Rifle Road, near to Junction 6 of the M60, this stop will serve Sale Water Park and nearby housing. A new secure park and ride site will be provided here.
The line will then turn south–east to run alongside the M60 and pass under Fairy Lane; a new bridge, with space for Metrolink, was built when the motorway was widened. It continues alongside Fairy Lane for a short distance before curving to the right and crossing over the M60. See New Bridges over Motorways page for more details and pictures of the bridge which was moved into position in November 2012. The route then descends to ground level. Some houses at Pimmcroft Way, owned by TfGM that were let on short leases, have been demolished.
After crossing Sale Road, Northern Moor stop will be near the north–eastern end of Kerscott Road. A pedestrian track level crossing at the south–eastern end of the stop will connect with a footpath alongside the outbound platform and local footpaths. Metrolink’s segregated alignment and Kerscott Road share a strip of land which was once reserved for a wider road.
The route will cross Kerscott Road near its southern end, then turn to the left running over the former site of the relocated Norbrook Boys Club, before crossing Bordley Walk. There will be new footpaths, on both sides of the tracks, from Bordley Walk as the route turns right to reach Wythenshawe Park stop near the Gardner’s Arms public house. Both side platforms will have ramps from near the centre in each direction. The existing footpath from Bordley Walk to Wythenshawe Road will be alongside part of the inbound platform.
After crossing Wythenshawe Road the route shares Moor Road with road traffic, to just south of Lawnhurst Avenue where it moves off road to an alignment using a strip of land that was a part of Manchester Health Academy and formerly Brookway High School Grounds. Moor Road stop will be on this strip opposite the end of Bideford Road and north of the entrance to the Academy. All the old Brookway buildings have been demolished and former entrances closed and fenced off.
The Altrincham/Moor/Southmoor Roads junction has been remodelled. When Southmoor Road was built, in the 1950s, it would have cost too much to remove the then Post Office and Smithy (petrol station). Moor Road from Parklands Road to Altrincham Road has been widened for the new junction. Southmoor Road has been widened from Altrincham Road to the south of Royal Oak Road allowing extra traffic lanes which are shared with the route. At Royal Oak Road the tracks move off road to an alignment on the east side of Southmoor Road.
A new bridge, east of Southmoor Road, will carry Metrolink over the Stockport to Altrincham railway line. At some future date, platforms may be provided for the railway lines, forming an interchange. Note that the former Baguley railway station was almost one kilometre west, nearer to Altrincham. The route continues along the eastern side of Southmoor Road, Baguley stop will be just south of the footpath from the western end of Glebelands Road and north of Floatshall Road.
Roundthorn stop will be just north of the junction with Hollyhedge Road. This will be the nearest stop to Wythenshawe Hospital. It will serve also the large industrial estate as well as nearby housing.
The line turns left to run on the north side of Hollyhedge Road. Martinscroft stop will be adjacent to St Martin’s Church, it will have an island platform with ramps down to foot track crossings at both ends. The M56 will be crossed on a new bridge, it was moved into position in November 2012. See New Bridges over Motorways page for more details and picture of the bridge under construction. At Greenwood/Holyhedge Roads a signalled junction will replace the roundabout. From here to Brownley Road the route shares Hollyhedge Road with road traffic.
At Hollyhedge/Brownley Roads a signalled junction will replace the roundabout. The line will turn right onto a segregated alignment, on the west side of Brownley Road, for Benchill stop. Two houses at the corner of Woodend Road have been demolished, a signalled crossing of Woodend Road will be provided.
Crossacres stop will be just north of Crossacres Road. The route crosses to the south side of Crossacres Road, then it will cross the northern end Rowlandsway before turning left onto part of Ainley Road.
Wythenshawe Town Centre stop will be alongside the relocated bus station. The route continues along Fleming Road and crosses on to the south side of Simonsway.
At Robinswood Road stop the outbound platform will be west of and the inbound platform will be east of the signalled junction with Brownley and Ruddpark Roads. This junction replaces a roundabout.
Peel Hall, stop will be opposite the end of Peel Hall Road. The route then crosses the northern end of Shadowmoss Road and runs on its eastern side. Shadowmoss stop will be on this reserved way about 250 metres north of Ringway Road.
The southern end of Shadowmoss Road will be realigned with Metrolink crossing this near Beagle Walk. The route runs between this new alignment and stub-end for access to the houses; then turns right to a reserved alignment just to the south of Aviator Way.
As part of the SEMMMS Road Scheme, Ringway Road and Ringway Road West will become a dual carriageway. Airport Way will be connected to an upgraded junction west of the present roundabout which is to be removed and an underpass for Metrolink will be provided here. Then the route approaches the railway line and passes under an extended bridge carrying Outwood Lane.
The Airport stop will be part of the Ground Transport Interchange. It will have one platform on the inbound track, the outbound track possibly used for stabling trams; these will be at railway level and north of the main line station. There will be an escalator and lift from platform to interchange level.
Monday to Saturday, between 06.00 and the following 00.30, a twelve minute interval service will operate in both directions. Additionally between 03.00 to 06.00 daily, a limited service of between two and five trams per hour will operate. Proposed Sunday service details are not yet available.
GMPTE worked with National Grid to relocate a main transmission pylon in the Mersey Valley, this has made way for Metrolink just before it crosses the M60 motorway. The work was completed at the end of March 2004.
To avoid utilities, properties in Brownley Road have been acquired and demolished between Benchill and Crossacres stops in Wythenshawe. Between Peel Hall and Shadowmoss alterations to Ringway Trading Estate in Wythenshawe were completed in November 2003.
Airport Line: top of page
This page was written and illustrated by Tony Williams, Manchester Area Officer, Light Rail Transit Association. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any comments, ideas or suggestions about these pages.