|Light Rail Transit Association
Light Rail for better public transport
Metrolink Introduction > Airport Line: updated 22 November 2014
This line links central Manchester, Old Trafford, Chorlton, Wythenshawe and Manchester Airport; forming a new public transport corridor for the Western side of South Manchester between the A56 Chester Road from Altrincham and the A5103 Princess Parkway. It improves public transport access from the City Centre to areas south of the River Mersey and is 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.
Metrolink routes are light green and main line railways are blue on the diagram.
This is a 14.5 km line which runs on a mostly segregated alignment with short sections of street–running. Most road crossings 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.
At a junction, just to the south of St. Werburgh’s Road stop, the Airport line diverges from the Didsbury line, rising and turning right. It approachs and run alongside the descending Mauldeth Road West; crosses the eastbound carriageway opposite Formby Avenue and then runs in the central reservation to Barlow Moor Road stop.
After crossing Barlow Moor Road, Metrolink runs on–street, sharing Hardy Lane with road traffic. The Mersey Valley flood plain and River Mersey are 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 has ramps down to track level pedestrian crossings of the inbound line. Alongside Rifle Road, near to Junction 6 of the M60, this stop serves Sale Water Park and nearby housing. There is a new secure park and ride site here.
The line then turns to run alongside the M60 and pass under Fairy Lane; for motorway widening a new bridge with space for Metrolink was built here. 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.
After crossing Sale Road, Northern Moor stop is near the north–eastern end of Kerscott Road. A pedestrian track level crossing at the south–eastern end of the stop connects 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 crosses Kerscott Road near its southern end, turns to the left, crosses Bordley Walk then turns right to reach Wythenshawe Park stop near the Gardner’s Arms public house.
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 is on this strip opposite the end of Bideford Road and north of the entrance to the Academy.
The junctions of Moor and Southmoor Roads with Altrincham Road have been remodelled. Moor Road south from Parklands Road and Southmoor Road south to Royal Oak Road were widened. Between Altrincham Road and Royal Oak Road, Metrolink shares with road traffic. At Royal Oak Road the tracks move off road to an alignment on the east side of Southmoor Road. The former junction layout avoided the cost of removing the then Post Office and Smithy (petrol station) in the 1950s.
A new bridge, east of Southmoor Road, carries 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 is just south of the footpath from the western end of Glebelands Road and north of Floatshall Road.
Roundthorn stop is just north of the junction with Hollyhedge Road. It is the nearest stop to Wythenshawe Hospital; also serving the large industrial estate and nearby housing.
The line turns left to run on the north side of Hollyhedge Road. Martinscroft stop is adjacent to St Martin’s Church, it has an island platform with ramps down to foot track crossings at both ends. The M56 is crossed on a new bridge which 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 has replaced the roundabout. From here to Brownley Road the route shares Hollyhedge Road with road traffic.
A signalled junction at Hollyhedge/Brownley Roads allows the line to turn right onto a segregated alignment on the west side of Brownley Road, reaching Benchill stop.
Crossacres stop is just north of Crossacres Road. The route crosses to the south side of Crossacres Road, then it crosses the northern end Rowlandsway before turning left into Wythenshawe Town Centre stop. A new bus station is being built to form Wythenshawe interchange. The route continues along Fleming Road and crosses on to the south side of Simonsway.
At Robinswood Road stop the outbound platform is west of and the inbound platform is east of the signalled junction with Brownley and Ruddpark Roads.
Peel Hall stop is 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 is on this reserved way about 250 metres north of Ringway Road.
The southern end of Shadowmoss Road has been 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 that runs between Aviator Way and Ringway Road West.
Metrolink has an underpass below Ringway Road West as it approaches the railway line; then passes under an extended bridge carrying Outwood Lane.
The Airport stop, part of the Ground Transport Interchange, is at railway level and north of the main line station. Escalators and lifts connect platform and interchange levels.
The line opened on Monday 3 November 2014. A twelve minute interval service operates in both directions from Manchester Airport to Cornbrook; for connections to other lines. When the second city crossing is open, services are expected to be extended to Victoria.
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.