LRTA logo Light Rail Transit Association
Light Rail for better public transport

Manchester Metrolink News 2014

07 November 2014: Construction begins on Metrolink’s new cross city line
03 November 2014: Chancellor visits Airport line and unveils ground-breaking Government transport deal
03 November 2014: Airport line open
29 October 2014: Get me there gets bigger
20 October 2014: Thumbs-up for new Airport tram line from award-winning disability group
12 September 2014: Latest M5000 order increased to 16 new trams
09 July 2014: Changes on the way in St Peter’s Square
07 July 2014: TfGM welcomes major transport funding announcement
04 July 2014: Trafford Park Metrolink line consultation
27 June 2014: ERDF Funding boost for Metrolink
23 June 2014: Manchester Airport line; trams arriving in 2014
26 May 2014: Farewell tour for Greater Manchester’s iconic tram
31 March 2014: Rochdale’s town centre Metrolink line opened today
21 February 2014: Victoria station roof and Metrolink stop upgrade
27 January 2014: Oldham’s town centre line open
18 January 2014: Oldham’s town centre line commissioning
13 January 2014: Work begins on Metrolink’s new cross city line

07 November 2014: Construction begins on Metrolink’s new cross city line

Construction of the first section, from Victoria to Exchange Square is underway. TfGM has been able to start work on this section of the line faster than expected after securing a £10.8m European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) grant earlier this year.

It means that trams could be running between Victoria and a brand new stop in Exchange Square as early as next winter (2015/16), which will also give Metrolink the ability to run more trams between Shaw And Crompton and the city, ahead of the whole Second City Crossing being completed in 2017.

Exchange Square stop is now being built as an island platform to maximise public space in the area.

Shoppers are being reassured that it will be largely business as usual as the city gears up to welcome millions of visitors to its festive attractions during the busy Christmas period.

Manchester’s Christmas markets are returning on November 14 with a larger than ever overall area, including a market on Exchange Square near the Selfridges and Marks and Spencer stores, while there will also be new sites including Cathedral Gardens.

03 November 2014: Chancellor visits Airport line and unveils ground-breaking Government transport deal

The Chancellor, George Osborne, visited Trafford depot where he met staff and inspected new trams. He then joined a driver in the cab and travelled the airport line to see the work for himself.

Following his trip on the tram network, Mr Osborne unveiled a ground-breaking devolution deal at an event in the city centre.

This deal will deliver the new Trafford Park line and, subject to consultation, a new London-style system of bus franchising in Greater Manchester. Ultimately providing a joined up network right across the city region, enabling seamless connections between trams, trains and buses. In turn it will support the introduction of truly integrated multi-modal smart ticketing across all forms of public transport in Greater Manchester, enabling seamless connections between trams, trains and buses.

The deal also unlocks access to longer-term local transport budgets and provides access to as much as £900 million over 30 years, dependent on economic performance. This will not only enable better long term planning and a more co-ordinated transport strategy but will also allow TfGM to deliver the proposed £350 million Trafford Park Metrolink line as a first priority.

It also opens the door for further discussions around the local management of Greater Manchester’s local railway stations — many of which lack accessibility for those with disabilities and real long term investment. This would breathe new life into currently under–utilised local railway stations and allow TfGM to make certain they are playing a full role in an integrated transport system.

Additionally new working arrangements will be developed between TfGM and the Highways Agency (who manage motorways around the region) guaranteeing that traffic is well managed across local roads and motorways and delays are kept to a minimum.

Following the Chancellor’s announcement Transport for Greater Manchester will be developing a detailed implementation plan with Government on behalf of the Combined Authority along with a delivery timeline and full public consultation on bus franchising will take place in due course.

03 November 2014: Airport line open

Public services started on 3rd November, well over 12 months ahead of schedule. The first in-service tram departed at 05:49 from the Airport. Passengers were greeted by Airline cabin crew from EasyJet, Jet2, Monarch and Thomas Cook.

There is a 12 minute interval Metrolink service, in both directions, from the Airport station to Cornbrook; enabling connections with frequent services to stops across the network. Journey time is around 45 minutes. This has effectively doubled the number of trams running between St Werburgh’s Road and Cornbrook.

When the Second City Crossing opens in 2017, unlocking extra track capacity, services will be able to run through the city centre.

A 300-space park and ride facility — free of charge for Metrolink passengers — is open at the Sale Water Park stop, conveniently located just off Junction 6 of the M60.

With the 14.5km Airport line open Metrolink’s network — owned by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) — is 92.5km (57.5 miles) long and serves 92 stops.

From Monday 20 October test trams started to run out of service between Cornbrook and the airport every 12 minutes. Metrolink’s driver training sessions had started on 16 September 2014

29 October 2014: Get me there gets bigger

Get me there has been expanded to more than 500,000 Greater Manchester concessionary pass holders. This is part of the phased rollout for the smart ticket. Around 3,500 people have been routinely using the system since July, touching in and out on the smart readers at the start and end of their journeys. This latest phase of the rollout will enable the development team to gather further customer feedback and ensure the system can deal with high volumes of regular users. Metrolink’s paying customers will be then be invited on board in stages during spring and summer 2015.

Details of how to register concessionary passes — and how get me there will work for everyone — are available at

20 October 2014: Thumbs-up for new Airport tram line from award-winning disability group

The Disability Design Reference Group (DDRG) represents people with a range of impairments and has had a hands-on role in the design process for access-related aspects of the expanded Metrolink network. Its members have given practical advice on a range of accessibility issues, from the design and layout of the stops and car parks to tram seating arrangements.

The DDRG visited all fifteen new stops and reviewed how well they meet the needs of disabled people. They gave the thumbs-up to the new Wythenshawe and Airport line.

Andy Walker, a wheelchair user, is the DDRG Facilitator, said:

   “Over the past few years we’ve seen dozens of new Metrolink stops opening. Our group has had the opportunity to make sure each and every one of them will meet the needs of people with a range of impairments.
   The Airport line is clearly going to be great for all the new areas it serves and we’ve been pleased to look at all 15 new stops and make sure the finished product is as accessible as possible.”

Peter Cushing, TfGM’s Metrolink Director, said:

   “We’re really excited about launching the Airport line — with 15 new stops we’ll be opening up access to the network for thousands of residents across Wythenshawe and Sale.
   We’re particularly proud of the work we’ve done with the Disability Design Reference Group to help make Metrolink the most accessible transport system in the region.
   They’ve made an invaluable input to every extension we’ve opened in recent years and I thank them for taking the time to help improve the network for people across Greater Manchester.”

The DDRG has worked with TfGM across hundreds of activities while it delivers the expanded Metrolink system, including the design of new stops, park and ride sites, the upgrade of existing stops and modifications to the seating arrangements on the new M5000 trams.

DDRG influences have ranged from inclusion of additional safety rails to assist cane users, to information and assistance improvements including the development of a comprehensive, network-wide Access Guide with maps to assist disabled people.

The approach that TfGM has taken with the DDRG is now recognised as a model of best practice by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

12 September 2014: Latest M5000 order increased to 16 new trams

On 7 July TfGM welcomed the transport investment from the Local Growth Fund (LGF) for 2015/16.

This funding was expected to pay for 12 trams; the larger order has been made possible through a combination of favourable exchange rates and buying in bulk.

With the 10 trams ordered for the Trafford Line, Metrolink’s fleet will be boosted to 120 vehicles by 2017. The trams will be used to provide extra capacity on the expanded network.

09 July 2014: Changes on the way in St Peter’s Square

Transport leaders in Greater Manchester have been consulted on the next major phase of Metrolink’s Second City Crossing programme. Work to deliver 2CC will require changes to Metrolink services through St Peter’s Square starting next summer.

The existing stop will be removed and replaced by two new island platforms, between the present location and Princess Street. These will allow cross–platform interchange for both inbound and outbound trams.

The Cenotaph has been relocated, near to the narrow south–eastern end of the Town Hall. The Cross marking the site of St Peter’s Church will remain in place, between the new outbound and inbound tracks.

Improvements will also be made to public and pedestrian areas to complement Manchester City Council’s flagship redevelopment of the square.

This is a major construction scheme; to do it in the shortest possible time, the stop will close for around 14 months from next summer.

In a similar operation to the current Victoria stop closure, single line running will be introduced for 10 months to allow vital engineering works to be carried out as quickly as possible — while minimising disruption for passengers by maintaining a service through the city.

There will be two eight-week periods, either side of the single line running, where all tram services through St Peter’s Square will be temporarily suspended.

When the Second City Crossing is complete; there will be greater capacity through the city centre, a much more flexible and dynamic network, allowing additional and more frequent services to meet ever–growing demand.

The redevelopment of the Deansgate–Castlefield stop will be complete before the changes at St Peter’s Square come into effect. This will provide a turning point for trams south of the city centre, during the closure and the single line working.

07 July 2014: TfGM welcomes major transport funding announcement

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has welcomed confirmation of the first tranche, £50 million, of transport investment from the Local Growth Fund (LGF) for 2015/16. This is part of a major long-term deal with the Government that will pump more than £350m into Greater Manchester’s transport network over the next five years. The money will be invested in 12 major transport schemes between 2015/16 and 2020/21, including new transport interchanges, new roads, new bus priority measures and more trams for Metrolink.

Metrolink Service Improvement Package:
Twelve additional trams; installation of a new wheel lathe for the Trafford depot; two substations in the Brooklands and Whitefield areas; and a turnback at Sale. These facilities in combination improve the capability of the network, increase resilience and improve operational reliability.

04 July 2014: Trafford Park Metrolink line consultation

TfGM is developing the 5.5km line, on a largely off-street route, from the existing Pomona stop through Trafford Park to the intu Trafford Centre.

A major public consultation on these plans launched on Friday 4 July. People will be able to have their say on the tram line proposals over the following 12 weeks, with fourteen staffed drop-in events arranged at public venues along the route.

A series of newly released visuals show services calling at six new stops, planned near to key destinations including Wharfside for Old Trafford, the Imperial War Museum North, Trafford Park Village, Parkway, EventCity and the intu Trafford Centre. The detail of the alignment may change as the design is developed.

More information is available at Trafford Park Line consultation and any comments on the proposals can be made online, by completing a response form in the consultation brochure, or by sending an email to

A brief summary of the proposals can be seen at the LRTA Manchester Metrolink Trafford Line page.

27 June 2014: ERDF Funding boost for Metrolink

TfGM has had a £10.8 million European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) bid approved, this will allow the first stage of the Second City Crossing (2CC) programme to be completed before the rest of the line opens in 2017.

The section between Manchester Victoria and Exchange Square will be built by next summer. Subject to testing and commissioning, Metrolink will be able to run more trams between Shaw & Crompton and the city from winter 2015/16.

Access to Deansgate–Castlefield stop will also be improved. A new lift and steps will replace the existing brick staircase at the Deansgate end. The enclosed footbridge linking the stop with Deansgate Railway Station will be opened up with clear side walls replacing the discoloured tubular structure. A new pedestrian bridge and steps will be built at the Albion Street end; these will land on Whitworth Street West pavement, replacing the existing steps which land on the Deansgate Locks walkway.

23 June 2014: Manchester Airport line; trams arriving in 2014

The new Metrolink line to Wythenshawe and Manchester Airport will launch before the year is out – more than 12 MONTHS ahead of schedule.

Initial testing, with trams running along part of the route, started on Monday 23 June. These are the very first stages of a thorough testing and commissioning process.

When the line opens, services will run between Manchester Airport and Cornbrook, every 12 minutes.

They will start to run through the city centre once the Second City Crossing is complete in 2017.

26 May 2014: Farewell tour for Greater Manchester’s iconic tram

To mark the T68 fleet’s retirement from service in April 2014; TfGM and the Metrolink operator, Metrolink RATP Dev Limited (MRDL) organised a farewell tour of the network’s classic route - Piccadilly, Eccles, Bury and Altrincham.

Limited edition tickets were printed and sold for the journey, raising over £3,400 for Transport for Greater Manchester’s (TfGM) chosen charities - The Christie and Francis House Hospice.

Hundreds of enthusiasts gathered at Piccadilly Metrolink stop, where the tour using two T68s started. Adding to the nostalgic appeal, the vehicles were driven by drivers who drove the first trams back in 1992, wearing their original uniforms.

Control Room operators Andrew Coward and John Henderson where also present, selling and signing copies of the 200-page book they’ve co-authored on the history of the T68 tram. All the money raised from sales of this book will go to Bury Hospice. For details of this book, visit

At Heaton Park, during a short stop, the keys for 1007 were formally handed over to Heaton Park tramway.

TfGM’s Metrolink Director, Peter Cushing, said:

   “The event was a huge success and not only provided a fitting send off for a vehicle of cultural and historical significance for Greater Manchester
   Each of the original T68 vehicles has amassed around one-and-a-half million miles during their lifetime and played a major role in re-establishing light rail onto the UK’s streets.
   By donating the vehicle to Heaton Park tramway we are ensuring that future generations will be able to appreciate the history of the UK’s largest overground light rail system.”

Keith Whitmore Chairman of Heaton Park Tramway Trust said:

   “It is very exciting news that we are being presented with one of the original T68 trams, which provided the blueprint for several other cities that have followed Manchester’s lead by introducing tramways onto their streets.
   Over the past two decades, T68s have served the region well, transporting tens of thousands of customers every day, so it’s very fitting that they are donated to the heritage tramway.”

31 March 2014: Rochdale’s town centre Metrolink line opened today

On Thursday 27 March the final testing and commissioning began. Trams ran, out of service every 12 minutes, along the route from Rochdale Railway Station.

The first passenger carrying tram service was scheduled to arrive at 05:51 and then depart the new Rochdale Town Centre stop at 05:55.

Metrolink passengers have direct access to local bus services calling at the new state–of–the–art Rochdale Interchange just across Smith Street. Work to remove the former bus station is already well underway.

The new town centre tram stop is directly opposite Number One Riverside — Rochdale’s iconic new library, customer service centre and council offices — and will provide excellent transport links to job and leisure opportunities.

The town centre line brings the size of the current Metrolink network to 48.5 miles (78km), serving 77 stops.

21 February 2014: Victoria station roof and Metrolink stop upgrade

Network Rail are building a new roof for this part of the station. The Metrolink stop is being rebuilt. There will be two double sided platforms with three tracks, this new layout allowing future turnback arrangements for the full Metrolink phase 3b including Second City Centre Crossing.

For the first stage, from Friday 21 February to Sunday 23 February inclusive there will be no trams through Victoria. Replacement buses will operate; Crumpsall to Shudehill and Piccadilly; also Central Park to Shudehill and Piccadilly.

For the following stages, from Monday 24 February onwards. Trams will pass through Victoria in both directions on a single line of track. In order to safely maximise the number of trams that can run on the single line the stop will be temporarily closed to passengers. Shudehill, the next city centre stop is just a short walk for connections with Victoria’s rail services and the Phones 4u arena.

Metrolink services will also change for the duration of the work; about nine months.

See the Victoria station roof and Metrolink stop upgrade page for more details.

27 January 2014: Oldham’s town centre line opened today

The line has four new stops — Westwood, Oldham King Street, Oldham Central and Oldham Mumps, with the latter integrating tram and bus services and providing a new, free park and ride site for Metrolink passengers.

The first week day service is timed to leave Trafford Bar at 04:53, calling at Victoria Station 05:09, Westwood 05:31, Oldham Mumps 05:37 and arriving Rochdale Railway Station 05:56. It returns at 06:00, calling at all stops to Oldham Mumps 06:18, Westwood 06:24, Victoria Station 06:47 then East Didsbury arriving 07:17.

The town centre line brings the size of the current Metrolink network to 48 miles (77km), serving 76 stops.

The Oldham Loop Line closed to train services in October 2009 for conversion to Metrolink. More than 1.2 million journeys were made on it in its last year as a rail line — compared to more than 2.5 million in its first full year as a tram line.

The existing, temporary route between the former rail station at Werneth and Oldham Mumps will be decommissioned by the end of spring 2014.

That will see the platforms, platform equipment, ramps, overhead power lines, rails and sleepers removed and, where appropriate, retained for use elsewhere on the network. The tunnels will be secured at each opening to prevent trespass.

18 January 2014: Oldham’s town centre line commissioning

Metrolink services between Rochdale Railway Station and Central Park are being replaced with buses for nine days from Saturday 18th January.

This is required for the temporary route through the tunnels between Werneth and Oldham Mumps to be disconnected. Then lines to/from Manchester and Rochdale will be connected to a brand new alignment into and through the town centre.

When the new track, overhead power lines and systems have been connected, final testing will begin and this will be followed by the start of passenger services.

A like–for–like replacement bus service will be provided during the work, calling at all the affected stops.

Unless adverse wintry weather conditions affect progress on the ground, the line will open to passenger service on Monday 27 January — several months ahead of schedule.

13 January 2014: Work begins on Metrolink’s new cross city line

Work to deliver a second Metrolink line through the heart of Manchester city centre is now under way with the start of utility diversions.

The three–year programme will create a new multi–million pound Second City Crossing (2CC); enabling more trams to cross the city centre, increasing the capacity, flexibility and reliability of the system.

The first stage of work — to divert gas pipes and electricity and phone cables buried in the highway away from the footprint of the new tramway — has now started on Corporation Street, between Withy Grove and Market Street.

Trenches are being created so new ducting can be laid for pipes and cables. Localised road closures and diversions are in place but access to businesses in the area will be maintained at all times.

The new route will begin in Lower Mosley Street and run through St Peter’s Square, before turning down Princess Street and then heading along Cross Street and Corporation Street before re–joining the existing Metrolink line just outside Victoria.

As part of the project, new stops will be built in Exchange Square and St Peter’s Square.

News 2014: 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.