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Metrolink Introduction: updated 1 March 2013
These pages are about the origins of Metrolink and its developments. Rail History outlines mainline railway developments from 1830. By the 1980s there were two unconnected networks north and south of the city. Some lines having only or mainly local services and requiring increasing levels of subsidy plus considerable capital expenditure for renewals. Several studies led to the original Metrolink six line plan. Metrolink History outlines how this evolved to the original openings and extensions which are now being built.
The plan shows open metrolink lines in green, under construction phase 3b extensions in orange. Main line railways are in blue. Links for line pages are in the plan and the text. Descriptions work away from the delta junction in the City Centre. Second city crossing not shown.
Diagrams are used to illustrate the line pages; route descriptions can be followed by using paper or online maps. External maps are not used on these pages for copyright reasons.
Metrolink pages, including Infrastructure, Vehicle information, Photogallery and News, are listed below with modification dates.
Early plans were for the network to be built in stages, the first stage had to be able to stand on its own. Thus the Altrincham and Bury lines with City Centre street running tracks were phase one of Metrolink. This opened from Bury to Victoria on 6 April 1992; Victoria to Deansgate–Castlefield on 27 April; Deansgate–Castlefield to Altrincham on 15 June; then the branch to Piccadilly Rail Station on 20 July 1992.
The Eccles line from Cornbrook, on the Altrincham line, through Salford Quays and on to Eccles became phase two. This opened to Broadway on 6 December 1999 and Eccles on 21 July 2000. City South describes the segregated sections from Deansgate–Castlefield to Trafford Bar and Chorlton.
On 7 July 2011 the Chorlton route from Trafford Bar to St. Werburgh’s Road stop opened. The Oldham and Rochdale line opened to Mumps temporary stop on 13 June 2012; it was extended to Shaw and Compton on 16 December 2012; then to Rochdale Railway Station on 28 February 2013.
TfGM usually announce new line opening dates a few days before the event is due to occur.
The Ashton route from Manchester to Droylsden was constructed as part of phase 3a extensions, testing then driver training took place followed by a soft opening on 8 February 2013, with three days free travel for local residents. The line opened to the general public on Monday 11 February with regular advertised services.
Metrolink phase 3b extensions are under construction, enabled by the Greater Manchester Transport Fund. Droylsden to Ashton–under–Lyne and Chorlton to Didsbury are accelerated. Work on Oldham and Rochdale town centres, Chorlton to Manchester Airport is also underway. The City Centre second crossing will follow on. Available details are in the line pages.
GMPTE has ordered FLEXITY Swift M5000 trams from Bombardier; there will be 94 of them running on the new lines and replacing all T68/T68a trams. See the Bombardier M5000 page for more information; also new trams photo gallery for pictures.
Metrolink opened with fixed block two aspect signalling on the segregated Altrincham and Bury lines. Line of Sight working is used in the city centre and on the Eccles line beyond Pomona.
A new Tram Management System is required for Phase 3. Based on Line of Sight working, it will give Metrolink Control a more precise position for each tram and will enable the new Passenger Information Displays to show accurate information. The Eccles line beyond Pomona and Chorlton line after Trafford Bar use the new system. The Oldham line also uses this, although reports indicate that a temporary interlocking arrangement is used for the single line section at Newton Heath and Moston.
The pages about Metrolink are based on information published by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) formerly the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive (GMPTE), the GMA Group who built phase one and Altram who built phase two.
Metrolink Introduction: top of page
This page was written 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.