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Metrolink in the City Centre

Phase 1 street level routes are from the delta to Victoria, Piccadilly and Deansgate–Castlefield. They are outbound away from and inbound towards the delta. Deansgate–Castlefield to Victoria is 3.1km, this is now referred to as the first cross city route (1CC). The branch to Piccadilly is 0.7km; its phase 3 extension goes to Ashton.

Phase 3 requires a second cross city route (2CC) from Deansgate–Castlefield to Victoria via Exchange Square. This is northbound towards Victoria and southbound towards Deansgate–Castlefield.

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 have built a new roof for this part of the station; Metrolink and the two east facing mainline bay platforms.

Metrolink’s layout has been rebuilt, it now has two double sided platforms with three tracks, allowing future turnback arrangements for the full Metrolink phase 3b including 2CC.

Exchange Square to Victoria, the first part of the second city centre crossing, opened on 6 December 2015. Trams are using the outer faces of both island platforms; D for outbound and A for inbound.

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 (22.1KB)
Exchange Square to Victoria opened on 6 December 2015
Deansgate–Castlefield to Market Street and Piccadilly Gardens reopened on 28 August 2016

On the diagram light green represents open Metrolink routes and stops. Under construction part of 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. See the TfGM Metroshuttle page for more details, including revised routes and times.

Delta Junction to Deansgate–Castlefield

A 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 shown on both Market Street and Piccadilly Gardens stop PIDs, alternating with the usual departure information for that stop.

From the delta junction the route is along Mosley Street where the outbound lane is tram only.

After passing the City Art Gallery and crossing Princess Street trams reach the new St. Peter’s Square stop.

St. Peter’s Square

The square has been enlarged and re–modelled, as part of Manchester City Council’s Civic Quarter regeneration. This also provides for more Metrolink services and second city crossing. It now includes the space between Princess Street and Peter/Oxford Streets in a north–east/south–west (ne/sw) direction also the Town Hall & Central Library buildings to the north–west to the new 1 & 2 St. Peter’s Square office blocks to the south–east.

The Cenotaph has been relocated near to the narrow south–eastern end of the Town Hall. A reinforced concrete slab covers the crypt of St. Peter’s Church. Also the cross marking this crypt has been re–positioned. Apart from Metrolink, the expanded St. Peter’s Square is traffic free. General traffic in a ne/sw direction and the sw/ne bus routes have been removed.

A new double island platform stop, at the Princess Street end of the square, 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, run 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.

Metrolink tracks towards Deansgate–Castlefield on Lower Mosley Street have been re-built. Southbound 2CC joins outbound 1CC after the platform at St. Peter’s Square, continuing as the outbound line. This crosses Oxford Street/Peter Street and shares road space with traffic, moving onto the reserved way before crossing Windmill Street.

Inbound, the 1CC & 2CC points are south of Windmill Street, which is crossed as interlaced tracks. On the reserved way, 2CC northbound track is adjacent to the Midland Hotel, 1CC inbound track diverges onto the former reserved way outbound track space.

Metrolink’s viaduct, alongside Manchester Central takes tracks from street level up to the former railway viaduct. This was constructed in reinforced concrete and clad with brick covered panels to match the appearance of the exhibition hall. 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 diagram (1.5KB)

Originally the platforms were on opposite sides of the footpath from Deansgate rail station to Manchester Central, 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. The stop has been expanded and completely re–built, on the city side of the footpath.

There are steps at both ends of the platforms. The island platform has a ramp at the city centre end. To give step free platform access to the outbound platform, which is slightly west of its former position; the level path against the viaduct wall has been replaced by a path with ramps in both directions. A new wall with a transparent vertical extension has been built on its own foundation just inside the original parapet wall.

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, is controlled by TMS.

A new stairway from Whitworth Street West pavement to the stop has replaced the former stairway at the Albion Street end.

The footbridge from Deansgate rail station, has been refurbished. New transparent side walls have been provided within the existing skeletal structure. These replaced the ‘tubular’ covering which had deteriorated becoming considerably darker and broken in places. A new lift and lightweight stair arrangement set in front of a dramatic ‘green wall’ have replaced former brick stairway at the Deansgate end of Whitworth Street West.

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.

City Centre: top of page

This page was written and illustrated by Tony Williams. Contact if you have any comments, ideas or suggestions about these pages.