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Manchester Metrolink News 2000

20 December 2000: Investment into trams passenger capacity
20 December 2000: Councillor Joe Clarke
25 November 2000: "Project Phase 3" and LTP includes Marple Extension
23 November 2000: Greater Manchester Rail Study
20 November 2000: 23 Contestants for Metrolink 2000
15 November 2000: Second Metrolink Depot gets go ahead
12 November 2000: Metrolink to Stockport once step closer
10 November 2000: Eastlands Extension and Line 1 Trams to be Upgraded
01 November 2000: Ticket Solution?
01 September 2000: Improvements to Line 1
31 August 2000: Metrolink and Petrol Crisis
27 July 2000: Eccles Open & New Depot planned
30 May 2000: Survey - Mancunians want Metro extended
15 May 2000: INCIDENT - Line 1 Service Suspended
05 May 2000: Getting Away - New Interchange at Manchester Airport
24 March 2000: GBP30million investment into Manchester's transport
22March 2000: Manchester 'Big Bang' go-ahead

Visit Reports:

August 31 2000: Iain Frew - Broadway to Eccles extension
July 12 2000: Iain Frew - Line 1 and City to Broadway

20 December 2000: Investment into tram capacity

Overcrowded Metrolink trams were given multi-million-pound funding by John Prescott today. The Deputy Prime Minister announced GBP7million to fit new carriages to trams - each making room for 90 extra passengers. The plan will fit central sections to 14 of the 31-strong fleet as the most cost-effective answer to overcrowding which has led to some rush-hour passengers being unable to board their trams. Despite the funding, it will be two years before the extra capacity is available. Officials need to persuade the government to release promised cash for the next phase of Metrolink extensions so they can buy brand new trams to fit into the fleet while the work is done.

There is also GBP25.9m for the Leigh Guided Busway, a plan to speed buses from Leigh into Manchester through Salford, on a mixture of concrete guides and bus priority lanes. The schemes are included in GBP242m of new money for the north west next year as part of the first instalment of the government's GBP180bn local transport spending plan for the next 10 years.

GMPTA is due to apply for permission under the Transport and Works Act to build the Leigh guided busway on the route of an old railway line from Leigh to Ellenbrook. Special bus lanes and priority junctions will continue along the East Lancs Road and through Salford into Manchester.

There is also funding for new railway stations in Greater Manchester. It is not yet known how much money will be given for new railway stations. The PTA has already drawn up a list of 20 it wants to build, including Diggle, near Oldham, Baguley, Dewsnap, near Ashton, Dobb Brow, Droylsden, Golborne, Park at Newton Heath, Stepping Hill, Simpsons Corner at Stockport, Slattocks, near Middleton, Little Hulton, Kenyon Junction, south of Leigh, Timperley (East), Cheadle, Adswood, and Stanley Green.

20 December 2000: Death of GMPTE's Chairman Joe Clarke

GMPTE Transport supremo Joe Clarke, who campaigned for Manchester’s Metrolink trams, has died aged 80. The Wigan councillor and chairman of Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority had been battling against cancer for about three months. He died at his home in Atherton. Councillor Clarke, who was awarded an OBE last year for services to the community, served as Mayor of Wigan in 1994 and was made a freeman of the borough only last month. A Labour councillor in the town for more than 30 years, he led the PTA over the past decade through massive changes in public transport. He handled the government-forced split and sell-off of GM Buses and the local fall-out from the privatisation of British Rail and saw the opening of the highly successful Manchester Airport Rail Link. But it is his achievements with the Metrolink system, which was opened by the HM The Queen in July 1992, for which he will be best remembered.

He accompanied HM The Queen on her historic journey from St Peter’s Square to Bury eight years ago and fought tirelessly to secure government money to extend the network, famously lobbying Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott at every opportunity. He was delighted when, earlier this year, Mr Prescott finally agreed to offer GBP250m of government money to build the "big bang" extensions to Oldham and Rochdale, the airport and Wythenshawe, and east Manchester and Ashton under Lyne.

He had already seen the launch of the new line to Eccles via Salford Quays, though, sadly, he will not see Princess Anne formally open the line next month. Councillor Clarke died on the day that Mr Prescott announced almost GBP30m of government cash for a revolutionary transport development in his own area — the Leigh guided busway. Councillor Clarke joined the army in the 1930s and was a member of the British expeditionary force in 1939 and evacuated at Dunkirk. He then joined the Parachute Regiment and was dropped into North Africa, Sicily and Italy during the war. After the war he was a miner, and became Mayor of Wigan, Vice Chair of Housing and a local councillor. In 1986 he became a member of GMPTA, spending four years as deputy chairman, before becoming chairman. Councillor Clarke leaves his wife Minnie, two sons and four grandchildren.

25 November 2000: Metrolink 2000 Big Bang Lines renamed "Project Phase 3" and Marple extension from Stockport in the Greater Manchester LTP

GMPTE has been making further preparations for the new lines to be constructed. Recruitment for new staff is currently taking place and decisions are being made as which contestants will be shortlisted.

Stockport has included a Metrolink extension from Stockport to Marple in the Greater Manchester Local Transport Plan. The route would probably be on street, using the A626 corridor, which currently has Quality Bus Corridor status. Marple was originally a destination for Metrolink in the original plans, as a conversion of the existing heavy rail lines in the South East Manchester area.

23 November 2000: Greater Manchester Rail Study

The conurbation is to benefit from a major new study led by the Strategic Rail Authority aimed at identifying how the rail network in Greater Manchester needs to develop over the next twenty years".

As part of the study, a wider reference group was invited to Manchester Town Hall today to listen to a keynote address from SSRA Chairman, Sir Alastair Morton, and to give their views on what needs to be done to increase rail use significantly in and through Greater Manchester.

Announcing the study, Sir Alastair said: "Britain's rail system has a Ten Year Government Plan behind it and the SSRA is negotiating new franchises and new investment initiatives to deliver the growth in it.  Growing demand for passenger and freight services means increasing the capacity of the infrastructure and tackling the bottlenecks in the system.  The rail network in the Manchester area, in particular, has to deliver growth.  This study will provide a framework for unlocking the potential".

Consultants, Oscar Faber, have been appointed to assist the study which will address the following key issues:

20 November 2000: 23 Contestants for Metrolink 2000

23 companies and consortia have formally registered their interest in the contract to construct and operate three new extensions to the Manchester Metrolink systems and take on the existing Metrolink operations.  They will now make a prequalification submission by the end of November.  Five companies/consortia are expected to be shortlisted by the end of December. The tendering process is expected to run until Autumn 2002.

The companies/consortia are:

Alstom Transport
Alstom Transport S.A.
John Mowlem & Co PLC
Stagecoach Holdings (operator of Greater Manchester Buses South Ltd. (trading as Stagecoach Manchester))

Altram (Manchester) Ltd

Amey Ventures Ltd

Arriva Passenger Services Ltd
Ansaldo Trasporti SPA
Arriva Passenger Services Ltd (operator of Arriva Manchester buses)
Gibb Ltd
Jarvis Facilities Ltd

Astaldi SPA

Balfour Beatty Capital Projects Ltd

Bechtel Ltd

Bus Shelters Ltd

Cobra Instalaciones y Servicios, SA

Connex Transport UK Ltd (also bidding for the Trans-Pennine rail franchise through Manchester)

Construcciones y Auxiliar de Forrocarriles, SA

Daimler Chrysler Rail Systems (UK) Ltd

Greater Manchester Rapid Transport Consortium
Amec Project Investments Ltd
Bombardier Transportation
First Group PLC (operate First Manchester Buses)

John Laing Investments Ltd

Manchester Tram Company
SERCO Limited (current operator of Metrolink)
SNC Lavalin

Racal Communication Services Ltd

RATP International Investissement
BEFEC Price Waterhouse
RATP International Investissement


Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd

Transdev PLC (the Nottingham Express Transit Company)

Travel West Midlands Ltd
Ashurst Morris Crisp
Ernst & Young
Travel West Midlands Ltd (operator of Midland Metro)


W S Atkins Rail Ltd

15 November 2000: Second Metrolink depot gets go ahead

Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority today welcomed the results of public consultation into the proposed second Metrolink depot in the Old Trafford area.

Together with the existing depot at Queens Road in North Manchester, the second depot will house and maintain the extra trams that will be required to service the expanded Metrolink network. The location chosen is on land bounded by Elsinore Road and Ayres Road at Trafford Bar. It was assessed against environmental criteria and has excellent accessibility by road. It is also close to two Metrolink stops. The proposals have received the support of Trafford MBC.

Councillor Guy Harkin, Vice Chair of the Authority, said: "We welcome the results of the consultation and look forward to Metrolink's second depot in Old Trafford becoming a reality. The facility will be a valuable resource for the Metrolink extensions, providing a depot to serve the three lines on the south side of the county."

The public consultation took place during the Summer.  Local businesses and households were sent consultation brochures and were invited to attend exhibitions and a public meeting. A number of businesses will need to be relocated and GMPTE is working to accommodate these as best possible. GMPTE is keen to continue liaison with residents and with the Metrolink operator to ensure any operational issues are dealt with quickly and effectively once the depot is built.

The second depot will be built as part of the Metrolink single contract for which funding is already in place. The Authority has now authorised GMPTE to make an application for a Transport and Works Act Order to enable the second Metrolink depot to go ahead. This application will be submitted to the Secretary of State for the DETR as soon as possible.

12 November 2000: Metrolink to Stockport is a step closer

Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority today gave GMPTE the go ahead to draft and submit an application for a Transport and Works Act Order for the Metrolink extension to Stockport.

The announcement came at today's meeting of the Authority and follows the outcome of the further investigations that the Authority's Policy Committee requested in March.

Councillor Guy Harkin, Vice Chair of the Authority, welcomed the news, saying: "The Authority is committed to expanding the Metrolink network so that the service is available to more people in the county. This is a great step forward in our plans to achieve a tram link to Stockport travelling via Didsbury. However, we recognise that there are some issues still remaining which need to be resolved."

These issues relate to:

The outcome of the additional consultation for the Chestergate area of Stockport

The Highways Agency and Stockport MBC agreeing in principle to the proposed highway and traffic alterations

Stockport MBC confirming its support for the route of Metrolink through Heaton Mersey Bowl

DETR responding positively to the economic and financial case for the extension.

GMPTE intends to make the funding case shortly and a further report will go to the Authority once the DETR has given a response to this submission. The Transport and Works Act Order application will be drafted for immediate submission once these matters are resolved.

10 November 2000: Eastlands Line News and Line 1 Trams to be upgraded

It has been confirmed that shuttle buses running in a special "busway" will now ferry fans to Manchester's Commonwealth Games because the Eastlands/Ashton Line cannot be built in time.

The government's GBP250m boost for Metrolink extensions came too late to build the line to the Eastlands Stadium in time for the start of the June 2002 Games, so Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott ordered officials to look at alternatives.

The route to Eastlands is part of the Ashton-under-Lyne Metrolink extension which, along with Oldham and Rochdale and the Airport and South Manchester, has received government cash towards a GBP500m "Big Bang" single contract.

GMPTE Director General Chris Mulligan said: "The risk of missing the Games was too much, but we are working on a bus-based solution in a specially created corridor. There would be a shuttle-bus between the city and the Games.

"But the Games people assure us that they can cope with transport without Metrolink."

The Eastlands/Ashton-under-Lyne route from Piccadilly Undercroft, to run alongside Pollard Street, was approved following a public inquiry in 1997.

Although the busway would be temporary - with tram tracks replacing asphalt after July 2002 - much of the work needed would remain in place. Mr Mulligan would not reveal the cost but agreed it would be "several millions", still "substantially cheaper" than Metrolink.

Meanwhile, officials pledge that Metrolink's capacity problems will be solved by the new Metrolink 2000 programme.

Overcrowding on the Bury - City - Altrincham Line 1 is likely to be solved by fitting special centre sections to up to 15 of the original 1992 trams, adding room for an extra 80 people on each tram.

So far, officials have had 30 requests from firms across the world for information about the GBP513m contract to DBOM (Design, Build, Operate and Maintain) the three new extensions.

Included in the private tender will be the line through Trafford Park to the Trafford Centre, the route to Didsbury (and possibly Stockport), and the Eccles Line spur to The Lowry Centre to see how much they would cost, though money will still have to be found.

01 November 2000: Ticket Problem — Solution?

Mid Cheshire Rail User's Association claim they have the answer to solve ticket jams on Manchester's Metrolink.

Angry passengers are missing trams and long queues are building at machines on the lines between Bury, Altrincham, Eccles and the City Centre.

The Association in a recent press interview said that Serco Metrolink should adopt the continental system of selling tickets through newsagents and other outlets.

Chairman Andrew Macfarlane said: "The ticket machines still remain seriously unreliable, despite modifications, still leading to long queues and people missing trams.

"In continental cities with tram services only a minority of tickets are sold through machines at tram stops and this possibly helps to explain why continental ticket machines are more reliable. There is now a case for Serco Metrolink to re-think its ticket issuing policy."

Metrolink Season Tickets are currently sold through local Newsagents and Post Offices, but other tickets are unavailable.

September 2000: Improvements to Bury — City — Altrincham Line 1

Members of Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority have agreed to release over GBP700,000 to be spent on substantial Improvements to infrastructure along the Metrolink Bury — City — Altrincham Line 1.

The programme of improvement works agreed today will be focused on improving passenger security and access to stops along with the introduction of extra facilities, such as increasing the number of ticket machines at busier stops and the installation of bike lockers and cycle stands. Better signage and lighting will also be provided at some stops.

Speaking after a meeting, Councillor Guy Harkin, Deputy Chair of the Authority, said: "When the first phase of the Metrolink system from Bury to Altrincham was developed, the funding was not available to substantially improve stops on the former heavy rail routes.

"The Authority is delighted to be able to begin to rectify this situation with this first release of funds. The programme of improvement works that we have been shown today gives me every confidence that in the near future, passengers travelling from stops along Bury - City - Altrincham Line 1 will benefit from much improved facilities, in addition to a more pleasant and secure waiting environment."

Serco Metrolink, who operate all Metrolink services, have been contracted to manage the improvement works and have subcontracted Serco Rail to carry them out. Members were also told today that Serco Rail have been asked to submit proposals for the improvement of platform surfaces Line 1. A provisional sum of GBP300,000 has already been allocated by the Authority for this work to be carried out.

Plans for improvement works were agreed in principle by the Authority in March, when they allocated the necessary funds to be spent at stops along the line, to be released pending a report on discussions between GMPTE, Trafford and Bury Metropolitan Borough Councils over the details of the works.

The entire programme of works approved today will be completed by March next year and the majority are scheduled for completion by the end of this year.

August 31 2000: Metrolink & Petrol Crisis

Supermarkets, public transport and the health service in Manchester are amongst the major services beginning to feel the bite of the petrol crisis.

Public transport in the area is feeling the pinch. Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive say the situation varies from operator to operator. Most services are managing to run at peak times with reductions at other parts of the day.

This has put enormous pressure on the electrically powered Metrolink system. Metrolink say it is currently running a normal service, however this may be affected if a significant number of staff are unable to get into work.

They advise that "due to the increase in people using the tram we would urge customers to travel off peak where possible. We are aiming to have additional staff at key locations to assist with the purchasing of tickets."

Passengers wishing to buy five day or season tickets are advised to purchase them from Post Offices, Newsagents or GMPTE Travelshops close to Metrolink stops.

31 August 2000: VISIT REPORT by Iain Frew

The extension of the Manchester Metrolink system from Broadway to Eccles was handling brisk business during the last few days of August. The extension has been built entirely on the public highway except at the stops which are all on a short roadside reservation, and the underpass to avoid conflict with the M602 Motorway feeder road just short of the terminus at Eccles.

The busiest stop by far is Eccles where 12 - 24 passengers used each service arriving or departing during the afternoon on 29th and 30th. The Eccles stop is beside the southern end of the pedestrianised town centre shopping area. The poorly served National Rail station is at the northern end of the same street about 300 yards away. The three intermediate tram stops at Ladywell, Weaste, and Langworthy, all produced respectable levels of traffic and there was a noticeable amount of local traffic between Eccles and Langworthy.

Rush hour services are well loaded with many travellers going to/from Manchester City Centre, and a minority to jobs in the Quays area. No longer are the Eccles Line 2 Trams the empty ones!

Across the road from the Weaste stop is a former bus depot, originally tram depot, and now an industrial store. Tram track is still laid down the side road to the west of this building. The track turns east behind the back of the old depot and two tracks run up to the entrance doors though no track survives within the building itself. Twenty feet separate this old track and the new Metrolink track.

There is a fair amount of empty land, formerly filled by factories, to the south of the extension, especially between Weaste and Ladywell, and the tram is seen as playing a key role in bringing about much needed regeneration. The M602 Motorway and Manchester - Liverpool via Newton-le-Willows railway lie between the tramway and a considerable amount of newish housing to the north but there is reasonable access from the housing areas to the tram route at each of the stops.

Iain D.O. Frew
31 August 2000.

July 27 2000: Eccles Open & New Depot planned

The Eccles line, from Broadway to Eccles, was opened Friday 21 July 2000 by Transport Minister Beverley Hughes, who is also a local MP. The Princess Royal will officially open the link in January 2001.

Proposed New Metrolink Depot

Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive (GMPTE) has announced plans to build a second Metrolink depot. This is required to cope with the “big bang” expansion of the network. The new lines are to Manchester Airport and Wythenshawe, Oldham and Rochdale and Eastlands and Ashton–under–Lyne.

The existing depot at Queen's Road would not be big enough to handle the expanding network, which is due to triple in size to carry 50 million passengers annually. GMPTE has searched for a suitable location and proposed a site near Old Trafford tram stop. The site is bounded by Elsinore Road and Ayres Road. A number of small industrial and commercial units are on this site. These firms are being offered a re-location package to move.

The new depot will have tracks, a washing plant, combined workshop and offices. Trams will enter and leave the site via the existing Line 1 (Manchester to Altrincham). The expected 300 new jobs created will include drivers, cleaners and technicians.

These proposals are out for consultation in the local area for six weeks before GMPTE apply for planning permission.

GBP3bn boost for Metrolink Expansion

As part of the GBP180 billion ten year transport plan announced by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott in the House of Commons on Thursday 20th July 2000, there will be GBP3billion for further extensions to Metrolink in Greater Manchester. These are in addition to the “big bang” agreed earlier.

The Department of the Environment Transport and the Regions (DETR) said that the first of these would most likely be that to the Trafford Centre shopping complex, funded with private cash. The next would be the Stockport via East Didsbury line, which already has powers to be built as far as East Didsbury.

When a public consultation took place earlier this year the Stockport line was backed by more people than any other extension to the system. Eight out of ten people said they would use it and 83% were in favour of it being built.

It is estimated that the Stockport Line would carry 2.5 million passengers a year, bringing in than GBP3 million in fares, with one third of the passengers having switched from car use for the journey.

July 12 2000: VISIT REPORT by Iain Frew

Bury — City — Altrincham Line 1 continues to attract more and more traffic despite peak period trams being seriously overcrowded. Car parks along the route are usually full by mid morning and there has clearly been a significant shift from private to public transport as a result of the Metrolink service.  Greater Manchester PTE is introducing “Quality Bus Routes” around the city giving a frequent service with modern low floor buses operating along bus only lanes and with equipment to change traffic lights in the bus’s favour (“intelligent traffic lights”). Well lit waiting shelters will be erected.

The first routes to be introduced are to Bury Interchange via both the A56 Bury New Road and A665 Bury Old Road (via Cheetham Hill) thus serving the areas served by most of the Line 1 Metrolink stops. It will be interesting to see if this greatly improved bus service attracts traffic from the trams. Later Quality Bus Routes are planned to Wigan, Warrington (via Eccles), Oldham (via A62), Ashton (via A662 and A635), Stockport (via A6 and A5145), and Wythenshawe & Manchester Airport, so there will be further instances of competition with tram services.

The ride along Bury — City — Altrincham Line 1 is still quite rough in places, partly because a large amount of bullhead rail remains in place. Most of the stops are still little altered from GMPTE/British Rail days — ie the buildings are unattractive, boarded up, generally out of use, and the extremely long platforms sprout weeds in areas which are now not used. However this does not deter the growing number of tram users.

The Eccles Line 2 Quays branch is at last building up good traffic. Although some mid-morning and evening trams carry few people, peak hour traffic is growing.  Residents of the new houses along the route now occupy about 2/3 of the seats on most peak trips to the city in the morning and back in the evening. Once the line is fully opened to Eccles the trams will be full. Large numbers now travel to their work in the new Quays office blocks by tram and fill many services completely. The tram leaving the Quays just after 1700 was noted arriving at Cornbrook Interchange platform packed with standing passengers from end to end. About 40 changed to the Altrincham line catching the 1710 from St Peters Square — one of the three “double tram” Line 1 workings in the early evening towards Altrincham. This carried many standing passengers and was completely full when it left Cornbrook. Regular passengers know when the double trams operate (1615, 1710, 1722 from St Peters Square) and these services attract much higher loads than the normal single tram workings immediately before and after. Traffic between the Altrincham line and the Quays is quite significant justifying the building of the Cornbrook Interchange.

Planning for the massive expansion of the Metrolink system is well under way but so much needs to be done that assuming all necessary permissions are obtained without delay it will be late 2001 before work can start on the railway to tramway conversion of the Oldham route. Controversy has arisen already however by the plans for a new tram depot large enough to handle the needs of 72 additional trams. This is to be built on the eastern side of the Altrincham route between Trafford Bar and Old Trafford stops. A triangular parcel of land, largely unused, is deemed to be ideal for the purpose and it included the junction and initial portion of the routes towards Didsbury and Wythenshawe and Manchester Airport. Local residents are lodging objections and the necessary hearing will all take time.

Iain D.O. Frew

May 30 2000: Survey — Mancunians want Metro extended

The results of a three month survey into the needs of commuters in Greater Manchester have been revealed.

Three thousand passengers were asked what they wanted from public transport in the survey for the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive.

Three quarters of people polled wanted more extensions of the Metrolink system (to add to Metrolink 2000), and the same number wanted an improved public transport network.  42% want slower traffic in residential areas and 38% less traffic flow through towns.

Keith Howcroft, director of planning and passenger services for the GMPTE says they are acting on the findings of the survey.

“The existing services, they wanted to see improved, they wanted to see them more frequent, more reliable more of them.”

“At the same time, what we're putting to Government are further plans for the enhancement of Metrolink, we want to see more and better bus services so we're rolling forward our programme of Quality Bus Routes giving bus priority measures on the main roads.”

The information from the survey will be passed on to central government in London and GMPTE hope it will add weight to their demands for more cash to help pay for improvements. The local transport plan will be sent to London next month.

May 15 2000: Major Incident — Line 1 Service Suspended

Services on Line 1 between Altrincham and Old Trafford were suspended this morning after an overhead cable snapped.

 — The broken cable was discovered at 6.08
 — No overnight test or trams run so problem was discovered on the first tram journey
 — Estimated could take till late afternoon to fix problem

The problem near to Dane Road tram stop only came to light when the first tram tried to run. One of the cables on the Manchester line had snapped but there are no clues to how it happened.

The loss of service caused chaos to Monday morning commuters. One traveller, Cliff Lintern, was on the first train that was stopped near to Dane Road tram stop. He described Metrolink’s handling of the incident as shabby.

“The tram started to slow down and then stopped dead. We were waiting for ten minutes and no–one spoke to us. Then the driver came out and spoke to some people at the front of the tram but not to me or others at the back. Then we were told we had to walk to either Dane Rd or Stretford stop”.

The passengers then got off the tram and walked along the track for 15 minutes to Stretford Road from where they had to make their own way to work.

“I think they treated us shabbily,” says Cliff within the time it took them to find out what was going on they could have arranged a bus to take us, instead we were left to make our own way.”

He took a taxi from Stretford station and spent just under GBP10 pounds getting into work on Oxford Road. Metrolink has said it will refund the full amount.

Metrolink are running a service between Bury to Old Trafford but a temporary bus stop service has been brought in to run along the Altrincham to Old Trafford Line which will stop at every tram station.

Engineers are working to get the route up and running but Metrolink are forecasting the work could continue into the evening meaning more chaos at rush hour as city workers try to get home.

May 05 2000: Getting Away — New Interchange at Airport

Work has begun on a new transport hub at the airport to create a ‘seamless’ interchange between trains, trams, buses, planes and cars.

The interchange will include:
 —  a new platform at the rail station plus extended platforms
 —  two Metrolink platforms
 —  a bus station, plus a coach station and large waiting area

Building a single centre to bring in all forms of public transport is seen as essential as passenger numbers grow and it's the first of its kind in the UK.

The aim of the scheme — which will cost GBP60m — is to create ‘seamless’ travel into the airport from rail, bus and coach links, and a new 13 mile arm of the Metrolink system.

With the second runway opening at the end of the year, the airport says it’s on target to attract more than 40 million passengers by the year 2015 and the new hub is seen as a necessary addition. The Airport Interchange project is expected to take three years to complete.

Transport Minister Lord Whitty carried out the official turf–cutting ceremony. He praised the new hub saying: “What we have seen is an excellent example of how an airport can link up with its local transport network.”

The airport already has a heavy rail link which transports over one million passengers per year with a frequent service to and from Manchester Piccadilly. Passengers can reach all three terminals via the Airport's skylinks which have moving walkways.

Six trains an hour run through the day Monday to Saturday and four on Sundays, in addition there are services during the evening and throughout the night.

There are regular bus and coach services to Terminals 1 and 2. And although there is no tram link at present, a Metrolink connection is planned in 2002.

Branching off the Altrincham line after Trafford Bar, this line will link up Chorlton, Sale Moor, Wythenshawe Garden City and Manchester Airport to the Metrolink network, promising a journey time of 30 minutes from the City Centre.

In March, the government pledged a further GBP15m on top of the GBP250m already promised towards expanding Metrolink.

March 24 2000: GBP30million investment into Manchester's transport

The government has announced an extra GBP30m is being invested in Greater Manchester's transport system.  The money is a result of the increase in transport spending announced in the Budget.

Most new money is for road improvements, but Metrolink will get GBP1m, with an extra GBP15m to be spent on preparatory work for the expansion of the Manchester Metrolink network.

The money is on top of the GBP250m already promised by the government towards the planned GBP500m expansion of the system.

When completed it will add three new routes to Metrolink, taking it out to Manchester Airport through Wythenshawe Garden City, Oldham and Rochdale, and Eastlands to Ashton–under–Lyne.

The work could start within the next 12 months and is expected to take up to six years to complete.

Speaking at the announcement of the investment the transport minister Lord McDonald said:

“This is good news for the North West. I congratulate the council's in Greater Manchester in putting these three schemes together. You're talking about a GBP500m development in light rail, we're also looking after roads, the M56 North Cheshire Motorway will be getting improvements and the M62 will be getting investment.”

March 22 2000: Manchester ‘Big Bang’ go—ahead

Greater Manchester’s Metrolink tram system was today given government cash backing for a massive expansion plan. Known as the ‘Big Bang’ the plan is to build 30 miles of new lines to Oldham and Rochdale, to east Manchester and Ashton–under–Lyne and to Wythenshawe and the airport in one contract to give considerable savings compared to the previous piecemeal approach. This follows an eight–month campaign by the Manchester Evening News and local transport planners to persuade the Government to back the plan. Success came as Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott was due to visit the city today to announce GBP289m of aid to guarantee the expansion and make Metrolink ‘the envy of Europe’. This leaves a funding gap of GBP200m of which local officials are confident of raising from the private sector. It is hoped to get the Ashton route built as far as Eastlands in time for the Commonwealth Games in 2002. It is hoped to increase the capacity of the existing lines which are sometimes overcrowded by ordering trams for the extensions in advance.

The M.E.N. reports the Deputy Prime Minister as saying “I have never been in any doubt of the value of Manchester’s case. It is a very big, happening city and we have declared it a centre of excellence.” and “It is a world leader for us and a good example of how to put heavy and light rail together with imagination. And it has been proved that people leave their cars at home.”

News 2000: top of page

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