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Metrolink in the City Centre

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

Delta to Victoria Station

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.

Victoria station roof and Metrolink stop upgrade

Network Rail are building a new roof for this part of the station. The Metrolink stop is being rebuilt. There will be two double sided platforms with three tracks, this new layout allowing future turnback arrangements for the full Metrolink phase 3b including Second City Centre Crossing.

To do this work safely; it was necessary to suspend services calling at the stop, however there were through non–stop services, using a single line.

Through services are now stopping at Victoria using the southern, furthest from main line, island platform.

See the Victoria station roof and Metrolink stop upgrade page for more details.

Leaving Victoria the line passes under Cheetham Hill Road bridge and joins the former Bury Electric Line Route. For the first 1.8 kilometres from Victoria to Irk Valley Junction this is shared by both Bury and Oldham & Rochdale lines.

Delta to Piccadilly Station

City Centre diagram (28.1KB)

On the diagram light green represents open Metrolink routes and stops. Second city crossing is shown orange. 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.

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.

The southbound road lanes are crossed to reach Piccadilly Metrolink station outbound (formerly arrival) platform. Trams to Ashton continue eastward. The former reversing sidings have become through passenger lines. Terminating trams, without passengers, use the new reversing siding to the east of Sheffield Street; returning to pick up passengers from the inbound formerly 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 the outbound platform to mezzanine and main line levels and second lift which operates between inbound 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 outbound 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.

Delta Junction to Deansgate–Castlefield

A new Passenger Information Display at the corner of Parker Street and Mosley Street shows the next Altrincham trams, from both Piccadilly Gardens and Market Street stops. This information is also repeated on both Market Street and Piccadilly Gardens stop PIDs, alternating with the usual departure information for that stop. The former Mosley Street stop has closed and been removed.

From the delta junction the route is 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.

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 now only for emergency use and fitted with sprung point mechanisms.

Deansgate–Castlefield stop was built with platforms on opposite sides of the exhibition bridge footpath, outbound to the east and inbound to the west. It worked with the change over from line of sight in the city centre to signalled running on the segregated line towards Altrincham

Deansgate-Castlefield stop diagram (1.5KB)

This stop is being re–built and expanded for the increased number of services that will operate with the second city crossing.

A new island platform has been built — on the city side of the footpath from Exhibition Bridge. It has a ramp at the city centre end. Inbound trams are using the new inbound track and outbound trams are using bi–directional track. There is no ‘signalling’ in use, points are secured in the required positions.

The outbound platform is now out of use. It is being reconstructed slightly west of its former position and will have steps at both ends. To give step free platform access; the level path against the viaduct wall will be replaced by a path with ramps in both directions; additionally a transparent vertical extension to that wall will be provided.

A left hand facing turnout, just west of the old inbound platform position, takes the new inbound line through the former platform site. Associated with this is a crossover which enables a length the old inbound track to become bi–directional. This layout, shown in the diagram, will be controlled by TMS when completed.

A new stairway from Whitworth Street West pavement to the stop will replace the existing stairway at the Albion Street end.

Exhibition Bridge, the footbridge, from Deansgate rail station to the then G–Mex centre opened in 1984. Its ‘tubular’ covering has deteriorated becoming considerably darker and broken in places. It has now closed for a major refurbishment. New transparent side walls are being provided within the existing skeletal structure. The brick stairway at the Deansgate end of Whitworth Street West has been demolished to be replaced by a new lift and lightweight stair arrangement set in front of a dramatic ‘green wall’.

TMS is now in use for the city centre and lines to Cornbrook and beyond.

See City South for a description of the segregated line to the south.

Mosley Street Capacity

With Phase 3a complete, there are 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.

Second City Centre Crossing

The Transport and Works Act Order has been approved by the government.

2CC 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.

The route integrates with Manchester City Council’s redevelopment proposals; apart from Metrolink the expanded St. Peter’s Square, between Peter Street and Princess Street, will be traffic free. The Cenotaph has been relocated near to the narrow south–eastern end of the Town Hall.

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 former 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 an island platform stop at Exchange Square, and onto Victoria Station. Construction work has started on the Exchange Square to Victoria section, this will open before the whole route is complete.

City Centre: top of page

This page was written and illustrated by Tony Williams, Manchester Area Officer, Light Rail Transit Association. Contact if you have any comments, ideas or suggestions about these pages.