|Light Rail Transit Association
Light Rail for better public transport
Metrolink Introduction > History: created 11 July 2011
|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.
These were split into two stages. The first stage (3a) was approved on 6 July 2006. After selecting the M–Pact Thales consortium as preferred bidder, GMPTE went back to the Department for Transport. Final sign off for Phase 3a was received on 16 May 2008. GMPTE appointed M–Pact Thales to design, build and maintain the new lines.
Conversion of the Oldham and Rochdale line and building part of the South Manchester line to Chorlton are being funded from part of the GBP520m budget reinstated on 16 December 2004. The East Manchester line to Droylsden is being funded by GMPTE borrowings, to be repaid over 30 years from Metrolink revenue. The second stage (3b) is the Oldham and Rochdale town centre lines, Droylsden to Ashton–under–Lyne, the lines to East Didsbury and the Airport from Chorlton, also the second cross city route.
The funding for Phase 3b was a key part of the GMPTE 2007 Transport Innovation Fund bid. These proposals were rejected by voters, in all Greater Manchester areas, in the referendum on 12 December 2008. More information on the Transport Innovation Fund 2007 bid page. The Association of Greater Manchester Authorities formally abandoned the bid on 19 December 2008.
Beyond phase 3b page describes the Pomona to Trafford Centre line which was in TIF bid but now has no funding. Also the Airport line Wythenshawe loop which was not in the TIF bid. The Stockport extension is subject to Transport & Works Act approval; it also requires funding.
Following the rejection of TIF proposals, transport officials reviewed the schemes from the bid. Those which did not require funding from congestion charging were re–prioritised on the basis of contribution to the economy.
The Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA) has agreed a Greater Manchester Transport Fund (GMTF) prioritising public transport and highway schemes involving an investment of over GBP1.5 billion. GMTF will be funded through contributions from local transport programmes, future GMITA levies and regional allocations which have been earmarked for Greater Manchester. This funding and prioritisation proposal has been submitted formally to the Secretary of State for approval.
Metrolink extensions funded are to Manchester Airport, East Didsbury, Ashton–under–Lyne and the town centres of Oldham and Rochdale, as well as a second city crossing between Victoria and Deansgate–Castlefield.
On 13 May 2009 the Vice Chair of Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority (GMITA) met with Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon as he welcomed the fast–tracking of two new Metrolink extensions to Ashton in Tameside and East Didsbury in South Manchester, as well as a package of cross–city bus improvements and new park–and–ride spaces. Mr Hoon also welcomed proposals to bring forward GBP195 million of government funding for the four schemes. The remaining funding for the GBP244 million schemes will come from local contributions.
Metrolink History: top
This page was written and illustrated 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.