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Metrolink Introduction > City Centre: updated 12 February 2013
Street level routes and stops between Victoria, Piccadilly and Deansgate–Castlefield; Deansgate–Castlefield to Victoria is 3.1km and the branch to Piccadilly is 0.7km
When phase one was built the inbound tracks were widely separated to leave space for a bi–directional bus lane. A subsequent rearrangement of bus routes left the bus lanes unused. As part of the refurbishment of Piccadilly Gardens this area has been landscaped.
From the delta junction the route soon turns left into Market Street which has an island platform. This was built in 1998 on a disused single direction bus lane and replaced the original profiled platform Market Street and High Street stops on the outside of the tracks.
The route then turns right into and continues along High Street and Nicholas Croft before crossing Shudehill. Tram platforms at Shudehill opened on 31 March 2003, the full interchange opened on 29 January 2006.
After this the route crosses Dantzic Street into Balloon Street which is tram only except for a short length allowing limited local access. Next Corporation Street is crossed to a short reserved way before entering Victoria Station through a new ‘hole’ built into the side wall.
Outbound trams originally stopped at Victoria platform ‘A’; which has been out of use since August 2003. Part of the roof above it, which dates from 1904 and was not renewed in 2002, is letting the rain get through. Terrazzo tiled floors and water make a slippery combination.
After passing platform ‘A’ and the large brick clad reinforced concrete wall, which British Rail required building to protect the station structure, outbound trams are now stopping at platform ‘B’ the other side of which is platform ‘C’ used by Manchester bound trams.
The design and layout will change for phase 3b and the Second City Centre Crossing. Details available so far indicate two double sided platforms with three tracks, this will allow future turnback arrangements for the expanded Metrolink network.
Leaving Victoria the line passes under Cheetham Hill Road bridge and joins the former Bury Electric Line Route. It initially rises with the Rochdale main line before falling to reach Collyhurst Tunnel, which curves to pass under the main line. The line rises again reaching Irk Valley Junction 1.8 kilometres from Victoria. The Bury line then crosses the former loop line route and falls towards the depot connections. The Oldham and Rochdale line diverges to the right.
On the diagram light green represents Metrolink routes and stops. Second city crossing not shown. Main line railways and stations are shown blue.
Piccadilly Gardens stop is between the gardens/office block and bus station. During the 2009 blockade, track and overhead line on the bus station side was realigned and the platform widened from 4.1 to 6 metres with DDA compliant full level access throughout. Platform equipment has been rationalised and new canopies have been installed providing better shelter for even more people. Three new Ticket Vending Machines (TVMs) have been installed.
After crossing Portland Street the route is in a reserved way on one half of Aytoun Street, the other half is for two lanes of northbound road traffic. Starting on the bridge over the Rochdale Canal, the tram route crosses the road lanes to a reserved section through the Piccadilly Place development and a short length of the west side of London Road.
Diversion of the city centre bound bus lane via Aytoun Street and removal of the scissors crossover on London Road has allowed the tram signal to be moved closer to the two outbound road traffic lanes. This reduces the tram phase time required for crossing into Piccadilly Metrolink station arrival platform. Without passengers the trams use one of the reversing sidings then emerge to pick up passengers from the departure platform.
British Rail required considerable protective works to prevent the possibility of collision or fire damage to the cast iron supports for the main line platforms, which may have led to the partial collapse of their station. Thus the Metrolink station was built in a large complex concrete box in the undercoft of the main line station. The tracks and platforms are at ground level. There are steps and escalators from platform level to a mezzanine level and further steps and escalators to the main line station concourse.
This mezzanine level was extended in 2001 to give access to steps and escalators down to the new Fairfield Street entrance. This entrance is for passengers arriving and departing by taxi and car.
Metrolink was originally provided with two lifts one from arrival platform to the mezzanine and main line levels and second lift which operates between departure platform and mezzanine level.
There are also two lifts between the Fairfield Street entrance level and main line level. To use them instead of the Metrolink lift from the arrival platorm, walk along the passage to London Road, turn left, cross the tram tracks and continue to a doorway into the new concourse. A short passage leads from the Fairfield Street entrance area to the Metrolink departure platform.
The original entrance ramp is now reserved for pedestrians, Metroshuttle and rail replacement bus services. The free orange and purple Metroshuttle services link to the City Centre, Spinning Fields and Salford Central station. See the TfGM Metroshuttle page for more details.
The Droylsden and Ashton line leaves Piccadilly Undercroft station via the former reversing sidings, which have become passenger lines.
After leaving the delta junction outbound trams stop at the Mosley Street profiled platform. Inbound trams only pause for the traffic signal. The adjacent inbound bus lane has been modified slightly, buses no longer run over the point machine.
The route continues along Mosley Street where the outbound lane is tram only but the inbound lane is shared with buses and taxies. After passing the City Art Gallery and crossing Princess Street trams reach St. Peter’s Square stop where platforms have been widened and modified in height to allow level boarding for all passengers. New TVMs have been installed.
Then the tracks cross Oxford Street/Peter Street to run in a reserved route alongside the Midland Hotel. Only buses and taxies are allowed to share use of the inbound lane, the outbound is tram only.
The tracks cross Windmill Street and then run onto the Metrolink viaduct alongside Manchester Central, previously known as G–Mex, and up to the former railway viaduct. This new viaduct was constructed in reinforced concrete and clad with brick covered panels to match the appearance of the exhibition hall.
The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester’s 2,400 seat concert venue, is on the opposite side of Lower Mosley Street to the Metrolink viaduct.
Between the bowstring bridge, over Great Bridgewater Street, and curve into Deansgate–Castlefield stop there is a trailing crossover. This is signalled for reversing trams when short turn back is required.
An enclosed bridge over Whitworth Street West carries a footpath from Network Rail’s Deansgate station to Manchester Central.
Deansgate–Castlefield stop platforms are on opposite sides of the footpath, outbound to the east and inbound to the west. Outbound trams change to segregated mode after leaving the platform. Inbound trams change to street running mode before leaving the platform.
See City South for a description of the segregated line to the south.
When Phase 3a is complete, there will be 25 trams per hour along Mosley Street. Running 30 trams per hour would require both improved tram priority at signalled junctions on Mosley Street and very close operational management to minimise any potential impact on the timetable. The interaction with signals, other traffic and pedestrians reduces street section track capacity compared with segregated track.
This will be part of phase 3b. The proposed route has been altered to minimise the impact on Albert Square and integrate with Manchester City Council’s redevelopment proposals in St Peter’s Square.
Apart from Metrolink; the expanded St. Peter’s Square, between Peter Street and Princess Street, will be traffic free. It is proposed to relocate the Cenotaph to part of the Peace Gardens, near the narrow south–eastern end of the Town Hall. The Cross will be re–sited between the new inbound and outbound tracks; within the footprint of the former St. Peter’s Church.
This new route will share the existing tracks down the ramp alongside Manchester Central. After crossing Windmill Street; the inbound track splits into second and first cross city routes, with the latter taking over the present outbound track. A new outbound track will be provided on part of Lower Mosley Street, this will rejoin the present track before crossing Windmill Street.
A new double island platform stop will be built between the present stop location and Princess Street, using Mosley Street and a slice from the Peace Gardens. This will allow cross-platform interchange between first and second cross city routes in both directions.
The second cross city route will turn into Princess Street, alongside the Town Hall and Albert Square. It then turns into and runs along Cross Street, continuing along Corporation Street, with a two side platform stop at Exchange Square, and onto Victoria Station.
City Centre: top of page
This page was written and illustrated by Tony Williams, Manchester Area Officer, Light Rail Transit Association. Contact email@example.com if you have any comments, ideas or suggestions about these pages.