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Light Rail for better public transport
Metrolink Introduction > History 1: updated 16 December 2013
See also Metrolink History 2 for continuation from 2005.
|Altrincham Line Stops in 2000/1|
|Trafford Bar 10 April 2001|
limited level boarding sections on platforms are visible
passenger heading for steps which have since been replaced
passengers heading for ramp
new steps construction
footbridge now removed, new steps to southbound platform provided, booking hall closed off
northbound platform shelter in July 2000, removed during 2009 upgrade
two lifts built for Metrolink conversion; the old wooden footbridge and stairs were replaced by new concrete stairways in 2001
Pictures by Roger Morris
Rail History page outlines mainline railway developments from 1830 onwards. By the early 1980s there were some lines having only or mainly local services and requiring increasing levels of subsidy plus considerable capital expenditure for renewals. Several studies into light rail alternatives resulted in the original Metrolink six line scheme.
Five lines, which were mainly used for local traffic and could be separated from main line tracks, were chosen for conversion. They were the Altrincham, Bury, Rochdale via Oldham, Hadfield/Glossop and Marple/Rose Hill lines. The sixth line would reopen the old Midland route from Trafford Bar to East Didsbury. New street running track would provide cross city connections and ready access to the city centre.
The Hadfield/Glossop route was re–electrified in 1984. Transpennine main line services were diverted through Guide Bridge in 1989 and their frequency was increased. Subsequent studies led to the proposed Ashton–under–Lyne route.
In 1987 the Government required a Design, Build, Operate and Maintain project with investment of some private sector capital before authorising the scheme. This funding method did not have a long term future. For a very brief outline of the complexities involved see the Funding page.
The network was to be built in stages and the first stage had to be able to stand on its own. Thus the Altrincham Line, Bury Line, and City Centre street running tracks were phase one of Metrolink.
Available funding only allowed the minimum upgrades to be made. Pictures, to the right, of some Altrincham line stops in 2000 and 2001 show them little changed from British Rail days.
The Eccles Line from Cornbrook, on the Altrincham line, through Salford Quays and on to Eccles became phase two.
In March 2000 the Government accepted that it will be better to build the Metrolink extensions as a single project rather than line by line. The Oldham and Rochdale line, Ashton–under–Lyne line and the South Manchester and Airport line formed the core of the Single Contract or phase three extensions.
The Trafford Park and Trafford Centre line could have been a part of phase three subject to total private sector funding. Additionally the East Didsbury line powers were available although those for the extension to Stockport were still to be obtained.
By mid 2004 some GBP 200 million had already been spent on advance works for the phase three extensions. These include purchase and clearance of the second depot site. On the Oldham and Rochdale line, Central Park stop and interchange also new ‘fin–back’ bridge, relocation of Oldham King Street Baptist Church to Chaucer Street.
For the Ashton–under–Lyne Line; building alterations to Rammon House were completed in December 2003, Dale and Co. agreed to move to new premises. Between Holt Town and the City of Manchester Stadium, a bridge across the River Medlock near Cambrian Street also bridges under the nearby road and railway line were complete by mid 2002. A tunnel underpass under Alan Turing Way and Gibbon Street, between the Stadium and the ASDA store, was completed in March 2003. St. Mary's new school building was completed in October 2003, making the space available for the Droylsden Metrolink stop.
For the Airport line; a main transmission pylon was relocated by the end of March 2004 to make way for Metrolink just before it crosses the M60 motorway. Properties have been acquired and demolished at Brownley Road in Wythenshawe. Alterations to Ringway Trading Estate in Wythenshawe were completed in November 2003. As part of a major new Ground Transport Interchange a 75 metre tunnel section under the Airport access road was completed in 2002.
On Tuesday 20 July 2004 in Parliament the Secretary of State for Transport, the Rt. Hon Alistair Darling MP, delivered the Government’s Statement on Transport Strategy.
He commented on the increasing costs in Manchester and other schemes and said: “No Government could accept these schemes as they are on the basis of these cost escalations. We cannot therefore approve them. We need instead to look urgently at how light rail could be made affordable, including the best approach for procurement. We will work with local authorities on the development of schemes, building on the recent NAO recommendations.”
See 26 July 2004: Fury at Metrolink Funding Decision News item.
The Government’s refusal of funding for the Metrolink Phase 3 extensions raised a storm of protest. Local people, the business community, local councils and MPs in Greater Manchester want these extensions to go ahead.
See the Back On Track Campaign page for more details.
On 16 December 2004 Transport Secretary Alistair Darling announced that Metrolink extensions are back on track — but not at any price. He told MPs that the original GBP520m budget for the three extensions was still on the table. It has been agreed that proposals for the maintenance and renewal of the existing Metrolink system could be a first call on these funds.
See Phase 1 and 2 Upgrades on the Funding page.
See also Metrolink History 2 for continuation from 2005.
Metrolink History 1: top
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.