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Manchester Metrolink News 2009

Upgrades 2009 page replaces upgrade items — other news items below.

21 December 2009: New Metrolink tram in service
15 December 2009: Preparation work for East Didsbury line
30 November 2009: New Metrolink depot takes shape
04 November 2009: New Metrolink tram progress
05 October 2009: Oldham Loop Closed for Conversion
05 August 2009: Funding for two new tram stops on the Bury line
04 August 2009: Second Cross City Route
04 August 2009: Droylsden Line Utility Diversions
28 July 2009: Chorlton line, retaining walls construction work
28 July 2009: Holt Town construction works on Droylsden line
13 July 2009: First new Metrolink tram lands in Manchester
08 July 2009: Bus services for Oldham and Rochdale Loop Line closure
01 July 2009: New footbridge at Droylsden
22 May 2009: Central Park line construction work
22 May 2009: Chorlton line construction work
13 May 2009: Greater Manchester Transport Fund
01 May 2009: MediaCity:UK line has Transport and Works Act powers
22 April 2009: Droylsden line construction work
21 April 2009: GBP100 Metrolink standard fare
06 April 2009: Queen’s Road Depot Expansion
09 March 2009: New Depot
06 February 2009: Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority
03 February 2009: Droylsden Line Utility Diversions
28 January 2009: New trams take shape
28 January 2009: Smedley Viaduct


21 December 2009: New Metrolink tram in service

The first new tram went into service on Wednesday 16 December between Piccadilly and Eccles. It is one of eight which will run on existing Metrolink lines; eventually it will be one of forty in use on the extended network. There was an official launch event on 21 December 2009.

15 December 2009: Preparation work for East Didsbury line

The St. Werburgh’s Road to East Didsbury extension is one of the Accelerated DfT Package items in the Greater Manchester Transport Fund Delivery Programme.

A phase 3a Metrolink line from Trafford Bar to St Werburgh’s Road is under construction and due to open in spring 2011.

Preparations for the extension began on 14 December with trees and vegetation clearance along the disused railway cutting from Mauldeth Road West in Chorlton towards Didsbury. Also in early January work will start from Parrs Wood Lane, Didsbury. These are expected to take approximately 10 weeks to complete.

GMPTE carried out detailed ecological surveys before the work started and is liaising with Natural England and local councils to protect wildlife along the route. As part of GMPTE’s environmental policy, more trees will be planted than will be removed.

30 November 2009: New Metrolink depot takes shape

Progress on second depot construction; following months of intensive work preparing the foundations, drainage and other key services on or below the ground; some of the tracks and the shell of the main workshop are now in place. Track connections to the Altrincham line were installed during August.

The work at present underway is for phase 3a. Full phase 3b works may be completed before this depot is brought into use. Current proposed opening dates are Autumn 2010 for the Stabling Yard with the full depot completed by Summer 2011.

Officials from GMITA, GMPTE and contractor MPact–Thales toured the site of the depot, which is being built on land alongside the Altrincham line between Trafford Bar and Old Trafford stops.

Pictures by GMPTE are in the depots photogallery.

04 November 2009: New Metrolink tram progress

The first tram has completed its 1,000 mile endurance test, which took place between the Queen’s Road Depot and Bury during the night. It has been accepted by GMPTE. Testing is continuing on the trams with all required tests being undertaken for Network Rail approval. Metrolink runs close to the main line at Victoria and Cornbrook also over Network Rail track between Timperley and Altrincham. Unofficial reports indicate that five new trams have now been delivered.

Driver Training is planned to commence in early November, this must take place before the new trams enter public service. It will be on the Bury line during the day. Although these trams will pull into stops and the doors open, passengers will not be allowed to board. New trams will probably start to be introduced across the Metrolink network during December 2009.

05 October 2009: Oldham Loop Closed for Conversion

On Saturday 3 October 2009, the last trains ran on the 22.5 kilometre Oldham loop line. Rail services continue on the Calder Valley line between Manchester, Rochdale and Leeds.

Earlier in 2009 two detailed passenger surveys indicated the number of people using the loop line and journeys made. Bus operator First Manchester has made significant enhancements to the commercial network. GMPTE has also modified its subsidised services. Normal bus fares will apply on all the services; single journey, day, week and month tickets will be available.

Work to convert the line to Metrolink will start immediately and information events about the project will be held in communities along the line the near future.

Metrolink services between Manchester and Central Park should start in Spring 2011. Manchester to Oldham Mumps is expected to open in autumn 2011 and onwards to Rochdale in spring 2012.

05 August 2009: Funding for two new tram stops on the Bury line

On 4 August the Government announced that GBP 4 million from the Community Infrastructure Fund is awarded to two new stops on the Bury Metrolink line. This is part of GBP 30 million allocated to transport projects to support thousands of extra homes being built across the country over the coming months.

Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority Chair, Councillor Keith Whitmore, said that the funding will help realise a long held ambition to open new stops at Queen’s Road and Abraham Moss.

One new stop will be at the Abraham Moss Centre in Crumpsall near the existing City College and popular facilities like the library and leisure centre. Journey time to Victoria of five minutes by tram versus the average of 13 minutes by bus. It will replace Woodlands Road stop, which is underused and poorly located.

Queen’s Road stop will replace the present staff halt. Journey time to Piccadilly Gardens will be seven minutes.

04 August 2009: Second Cross City Route

GMPTE’s May schematic and June geographic Metrolink diagrams show this between Victoria and G–Mex on the Cross Street route. It will be part of the Greater Manchester Transport Fund Metrolink Phase 3b expansion proposals.

A ‘business case’ has been sent to government officials at the Department for Transport (DfT) for approval.

A second city–centre tram crossing is needed for the extra services that will operate when phase 3b is completed. GMPTE expect building programme details are likely to be ready by the autumn.

04 August 2009: Droylsden Line Utility Diversions

Market Street in Droylsden is due to reopen to two–way traffic next week after months of work to divert utilities on Market Street and Manchester Road.

Diversion works will then move on to Davenport Street near Edge Lane. High voltage cables will be relocated and sewer works continue. Davenport Street will be closed between Manor Road and Manchester Road for approximately four months, from Thursday 13 August at the earliest. Local traffic diversions will operate.

28 July 2009: Chorlton line, retaining walls construction work

MPact–Thales — the consortium appointed to design, build and maintain the new lines and depot — has already cleared the overgrown cutting and is laying drainage in trenches along the track bed.

Retaining walls construction is due to begin on 3 August. A piling rig will arrive in Firswood. It will gradually progress down the route over the next few months — through to the Chorlton High stop at St Werburgh’s Road. Work will only take place in the daytime Monday to Friday and last for a few days at any one location along the route.

When piling work is finished and all the drainage laid, MPact–Thales will be able to start building tram stop foundations in the early autumn.

28 July 2009: Holt Town construction works on Droylsden line

Following utility diversions that took place in the area during June, work on foundations for the new stop will start in August.

Heavy duty piling rigs will be used to start creating concrete retaining walls for the stop in the area between Ashton New Road, Holt Town and Cambrian Street. The work will pave the way for track laying to start in the autumn.

Beswick Street will be closed to traffic in both directions between Ashton New Road and Branson Street from 3 August until early November. There will be a sign posted diversion. Temporary traffic lights will also be in use on Ashton New Road for around seven weeks.

13 July 2009: First new Metrolink tram lands in Manchester

Manchester’s first new M5000 tram arrived at the Metrolink Queen’s Road depot on 13 July at around 6 am, having made the final leg of its journey under police escort. It left the Bombardier depot in Vienna on the back of an articulated lorry in the early hours of Thursday and travelled almost 1,000 miles as it made its way through Germany, the Netherlands and Rotterdam before landing at the Port of Hull on Sunday.

The new tram is yellow at the front, and has yellow and silver sides, in line with the new Metrolink identity. The new colours have also been used inside the tram, and full–length glass double doors will make it feel lighter and brighter than the current vehicles.

Philip Purdy, GMPTE’s Metrolink Director, said: “We’ve been looking forward to this day and following the new tram’s progress very closely. I am really pleased with the result. The tram will now undergo extensive operational and safety tests and we’ll also have to train people how to drive it. The tests will go on through the summer and the autumn before the tram goes into service.”

08 July 2009: Bus services for Oldham and Rochdale Loop Line closure

Two detailed surveys took place earlier this year — they looked at how many people use the service and the kinds of journeys made — the results fed into the planning process.

Following talks between GMPTE and First Manchester, the operator has made some significant enhancements to its commercial network to support passengers who will be affected when the Loop Line closes for conversion to Metrolink after services finish on Saturday 3 October.

The changes, which come into force on Monday 31 August to give passengers a month to prepare, provide a mixture of express and high frequency services that reflect the types of journeys currently made on the Loop Line. In addition, GMPTE has modified its subsidised services to support these changes to ensure that an appropriate level of service is provided. Normal bus fares will apply on all the services; single journey, day, week and month tickets will be available.

Rail services will run as normal on the Calder Valley line between Manchester, Rochdale and Leeds.

GMPTE will be conducting a major information campaign over the summer, to make sure that people know about the alternatives that will be on offer.

01 July 2009: New footbridge at Droylsden

Construction work near Droylsden Library, took place during May and June, with piling for & building concrete retaining walls to help widen Manchester Road. A new footbridge was lifted into place on Sunday 28 June.

22 May 2009: Central Park line construction work

This will run from Irk Valley Junction, on the Bury line, along the disused Smedley Viaduct and Cheetham Hill loop line to Central Park and eventually on to Oldham and Rochdale.

MPact–Thales, the consortium appointed to design, build and maintain the new lines, has already cleared the route and will start to install drainage in June. Once complete, work on the foundations for the new tram stops can begin.

Work will also have to be done to some of the bridges along the route.

Philip Purdy, GMPTE’s Metrolink Director, said: “We've already done a lot of work to get us to this point but people are going to see a lot more activity in the area over the next few months.”

Trams will start running from Manchester to new stops at Monsall and Central Park from spring 2011, then Oldham Mumps from autumn 2011 and finally Rochdale from spring 2012.

22 May 2009: Chorlton line construction work

This line will run along a disused railway line from the existing Trafford Bar Metrolink stop.

MPact–Thales, the consortium appointed to design, build and maintain the new lines, has already cleared the tram route and will start to install drainage down the length of the new line this month. This will be followed by piling work later in the summer to create the concrete foundations of the new tram stops.

Philip Purdy, GMPTE’s Metrolink Director, said: “Once the drainage is in place we can start building the stops, so people are going to be seeing lots of activity on the Chorlton line over the summer.”

Due for completion in spring 2011, the new line to Chorlton will have three stops and be served by trams running every six minutes.

A new depot is also being created on the triangle of land near Trafford Bar, between the Altrincham line, Ayres Road, and the track bed of the disused railway line. Part of Elsinore Road, which runs parallel to the existing Altrincham line, has been closed from its junction with Ayres Road to a point before its junction with Skerton Road.

13 May 2009: Greater Manchester Transport Fund

The Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA) has agreed a Greater Manchester Transport Fund (GMTF) prioritising public transport and highway schemes.

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 G–Mex.

On 13 May 2009 Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon 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.

See the Funding page for more details.

01 May 2009: MediaCity:UK line has Transport and Works Act powers

GMPTE has officially been given powers to run trams to the heart of MediaCity:UK in Salford Quays, as construction work gets under way on the new quarter–of–a–mile line.

Detailed designs for the civil and infrastructure elements are being finalised. Initial construction work is already underway foundations have been cleared and building work will start in mid–May.

It is being funded by the North West Regional Development Agency (NWDA), Salford City Council and developers Peel Media — the organisations behind the MediaCity:UK development — and is due to open in summer 2010.

MediaCity:UK will be home to the BBC’s new northern headquarters and is expected to create 15,500 jobs and bring GBP1 billion to the regional economy in its first five years.

22 April 2009: Droylsden line construction work

Construction work in Droylsden town centre will begin near Droylsden Library in early May. A piling rig will be used to start building concrete retaining walls for widening Manchester Road and to create a new foot bridge.

There will be temporary traffic lights on Manchester Road between the Jolly Carter pub and Water Lane for the next two to three months as United Utilities move manholes.

Work to divert utilities along Market Street began earlier this year and is running to schedule.

21 April 2009: GBP100 Metrolink standard fare

Metrolink is stepping up its operation to catch fare evaders on the trams. From Monday 11 May, anyone caught without a valid ticket will be charged a standard fare of GBP100.

GMPTE, which owns the Metrolink network, has launched an information campaign to remind passengers that they must have a valid ticket before they board their tram. Posters are now on display on trams and at stops, and leaflets are being handed out to passengers.

Metrolink inspectors check passengers’ tickets seven days a week and will issue the new GBP100 standard fare to those travelling without a valid ticket. The standard fare must be paid within 21 days — or GBP50 if paid within 14 days. Failure to pay the standard fare could result in prosecution and legal proceedings.

06 April 2009: Queen’s Road Depot Expansion

Work has now started on the depot extension. The Workshop will be extended and additional stabling sidings provided. A new perimeter fence now includes that part of the former Cheetham Hill Loop Line adjacent to the original depot site.

09 March 2009: New Depot

The remaining derelict building on the second depot site — a former bakery and packaging company — was demolished during January 2009. Subsequently most of the ground has been cleared of old surfaces. A work compound will be constructed on this site.

06 February 2009: Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority

Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority (GMPTA) became Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority (GMITA) on Monday 9 February.

The new name is the first of a wave of changes being introduced by the Local Transport Act 2008. It reflects GMITA’s wider transport role and new powers, as it takes on a more strategic responsibility for planning and delivering transport improvements.

Further changes to be introduced later this year will strengthen the role of ITAs in the planning and delivery of better bus services.

Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive — the executive arm of the authority — will remain as GMPTE.

03 February 2009: Droylsden Line Utility Diversions

Work to move existing utilities — such as gas, water, electricity and phone lines — away from the route has started and will take place throughout the year.

Several road closures and diversions will be in place along the route while utilities are being moved and the new line is being built. GMPTE is working closely with the utility companies and local councils to minimise the impact the work has on local communities.

The first utility work — on BT telecommunications equipment — will start in Droylsden town centre at the junction of Market Street / Villemomble Square with Manchester Road on 9 February.

Utility diversion in Ancoats, at the Pollard Street/Carruthers Street junction, will begin after the diversion work on Great Ancoats Street — which is not directly related to Metrolink — has finished. This is one of the most complicated and intensive areas of utility diversion along the route and the junction will be closed for the duration of the work which is expected to finish in 2010.

28 January 2009: New trams take shape

Greater Manchester’s forty new FLEXITY Swift trams are beginning to take shape at the Bombardier production site in Vienna. The first tram shell has been completed and engineers have now reached the stage where they can start installing the electrical and interior fittings.

They will be tested in Vienna in the spring before the first one is ready to be delivered to Manchester in the summer. It will then go through rigourous testing on the Metrolink system for around three months to make sure it meets safety regulations.

The tram is due to go into service in the autumn once drivers have been trained to operate the new model. Transport bosses then expect to be able to add new trams to the network at the rate of approximately one each month.

See the Bombardier M5000 page for more information.

28 January 2009: Smedley Viaduct

Smedley Viaduct — last used by passenger trains in 1966 — had become overgrown with trees, hedgerows and shrubs which were cleared in November 2008.

This brick built viaduct is just over 400 metres long, 30 metres high and has 26 arches. In December 2008 specialist abseilers, who are all structural engineers, carried out inspections under the arches to see what work may be needed to restore the viaduct.


News 2009: top of page

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