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Manchester Metrolink News 2017

20 October 2017: Metrolink marks 25 years with celebratory book launch
5 October 2017: Metrolink passenger journeys hit a record high
23 August 2017: Crumpsall stop upgrade
15 July 2017: New operator just the ticket for Metrolink
11 July 2017: Utility works for Trafford Park Line
6 April 2017: Metrolink celebrates 25 years at the top
8 March 2017: Metrolink Director bows out on a high
27 February 2017: Second City Crossing Open
18 January 2017: Metrolink will have a new operator from July
12 January 2017: Metrolink breaks ground for Trafford Park line


20 October 2017: Metrolink marks 25 years with celebratory book launch

Since it’s opening on 6 April 1992, Metrolink has gone on to become the largest tram network in the UK and is now treble its original size thanks to a phenomenal £1.5bn expansion programme and the dedication of countless builders, engineers, planners and politicians – both local and national.

‘Metrolink: The first 25 years’ chronicles the entire history of the system, charting the various line openings and feats of construction and engineering, technical innovations and how challenges faced along the way were overcome, including the ‘Get Metrolink Back on Track’ campaign that was launched in the face of a threat to funding.

The book also looks closely at the history of the trams themselves and the schemes which came before Metrolink – dating right back to the 1800s.

It shows how the city’s famous trams have now become a landmark feature of Greater Manchester and contains interviews with staff who worked on the initial concept for Metrolink and subsequent project.

Ahead of the launch of his new book at the Museum of Greater Manchester Transport, author Mark Ovenden, said:

   “I was living in Manchester during the construction period when Metrolink was first being built and remember seeing the original tram tracks on Market Street being uncovered in preparation for the new system.
   During the test trials and especially on the opening day in 1992, people in my office overlooking St Peter’s Square spent half the day looking out of the window at these wonderful new vehicles on the city streets.
   We’ve had a great initial reaction to the book, and have received a lot of compliments from all areas. I hope everyone has the opportunity to flick through the pages of Metrolink’s fascinating history.”

The Metrolink network now runs to 93 stops on seven lines right across Greater Manchester. Spanning more than 60miles, a fleet of 120 modern trams now carry a record breaking 40 million passenger journeys a year.

Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, said:

   “Everyone who has helped to craft and shape such an iconic symbol of Greater Manchester over the last 25 years should be proud of their achievements.
   No one could have predicted the unparalleled successes we would have when the first passenger service set off between Bury and Manchester Victoria back in 1992.
   This book allows us to look back on the remarkable story of Metrolink and its transformation into what it is today.”

‘Metrolink: The first 25 years’ is available at Waterstones, other local bookstores, the Greater Manchester Transport Museum and online.

5 October 2017: Metrolink passenger journeys hit a record high

Metrolink’s popularity shows no sign of slowing down as new figures indicate that a record number of journeys are being made across the network.

Latest figures show that more than 40 million journeys a year are now being made on the system – an increase of over four million in the year to September.

The 11% increase in journeys coincides with the opening of the Second City Crossing and the completion of Metrolink’s phenomenal ‘big bang’ expansion programme – which further cemented the network’s place as the UK’s largest tram system.

TfGM Head of Metrolink, Danny Vaughan, said:

   “Since the new line through the city centre opened in February the number of people using Metrolink has shot up. It’s no coincidence that we’ve seen continued growth in line with our investment in the network. We now run more trams to more places, connecting more people than ever before with jobs, training, retail and leisure opportunities. The quality of service on offer has also played a key role in this success with the latest passenger satisfaction survey showing that 90% of our customers are happy with their journeys.
   I’m in no doubt that the number of people who use the network will continue to rise as we continue to improve and the network grows even further.”

23 August 2017: Crumpsall stop upgrade

Work has started on a major upgrade which will allow this stop to become the northern terminus of the future Trafford Park line services.

The first part will be provision of a new track level pedestrian crossing between outbound and inbound platforms at the Manchester (south) end.

Then the removal of the old lift shaft, footbridge and disabled access ramp on the Manchester-bound platform. The stairs on the Bury-bound platform will also be upgraded.

In time all of the inbound platform rear wall will be removed. A new platform face will be built on the eastern side, creating an island platform whose faces are not parallel. A double tram at the turnback platform will mostly be on ground covered by ramp.

There will be a step free path from Crumpsall Lane to the south end of the stop.

15 July 2017: New operator just the ticket for Metrolink

Greater Manchester’s Metrolink tram system – the largest of its kind in the UK – has welcomed a new operator on board to run the iconic network.

KeolisAmey Metrolink (KAM), a joint venture partnership of leading global public transport operator, Keolis, and infrastructure asset management specialist, Amey, has taken over the reins from former operator, Metrolink RATP Dev Ltd (MRDL).

The change in operator sees the appointment of Aline Frantzen as Managing Director for KAM. Aline joins the business following 17 successful years with Yarra Trams, the world’s largest light rail network in Melbourne, Australia, which is also operated by Keolis.

The new contract, to operate as well as maintain the system, will run for up to 10 years.

Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee (TfGMC), said:

   “Firstly, I’d like to place on record my thanks to MRDL for all their work and pay tribute to the staff who have played a crucial part in making the network what it is today – a fantastic, world-class light rail system.
   KeolisAmey Metrolink is a partnership between two international transport and infrastructure management specialists, with the experience and skills to operate Metrolink, create jobs, support the growth of the local economy and deliver innovative and pragmatic solutions that offer better passenger experiences.
   These are exciting times for Metrolink and the city-region and I warmly welcome KAM as the Metrolink operator. Together we will further realise the full potential and benefits of the unprecedented growth and investment we are overseeing in the network.”

Aline Frantzen, KAM Managing Director, said:

   “We are looking forward to working with TfGM, our partners and the community to implement our exciting plans for what is already a high-performing network. Our approach will be focused on collaboratively working to keep Greater Manchester moving and growing.”

Key features of the new contract include a major focus on improving operational reliability, and customer service and security – with an increased staff presence on the network, particularly in the evening and at weekends.

KAM is committed to sourcing a minimum of 40 per cent of supplier contracts within 25 miles of Greater Manchester and creating more than 300 jobs including drivers, apprenticeships and traineeships over the course of the contract.

Over 60 of those new jobs have already started, following the successful recruitment of additional Customer Service Representatives and Travel Safe Officers, as well as more drivers.

11 July 2017: Utility works for Trafford Park Line

utilities works
Joint Utilities Trench
Picture courtesy of TfGM

Major utility diversions are required for the construction of a new six-stop Metrolink line to the busy Trafford Park industrial estate and Trafford Centre.

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and MPact-Thales (MPT) are using a joint utility trench strategy; removing the need for multiple utility companies to dig up the road and footways over a significant period of time. It is now a tried and tested process, having been developed over previous Metrolink expansions.

During planning for the Trafford Park Line, representatives from each utility company, Trafford Council, TfGM and MPT initially worked together to identify parallels within their designs. Electricity North West was then able to develop a detailed combined design for each utility trench.

Up to 40 ducts and pipes will be relayed for electricity, water, gas, and telecommunications by one single contractor within each joint utility trench. When combined, the trench work totals 3.2km, which is equivalent to the length of over 213 double decker buses.

TfGM’s Head of Projects, Alex Cropper, said:

   “Working collaboratively in this way will substantially reduce the cost and time spent on necessary utility works, minimising disruption to surrounding businesses and road users.
   This is a fantastic example of finding innovative ways of working to lessen the impact of construction works on the local community.”

6 April 2017: Metrolink celebrates 25 years at the top

Metrolink 25 SPS (127KB)
3092 with Metrolink 25 livery arriving at St. Peter’s Square
Picture courtesy of TfGM

Passenger services started operating between Bury and Manchester Victoria on the 6th April 1992; Victoria to Deansgate–Castlefield (then known as G–Mex) on 27 April; Deansgate–Castlefield to Altrincham on 15 June; then the branch to Piccadilly Rail Station on 20 July 1992.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II declared Metrolink open at a ceremony in Manchester on 17 July 1992.

Fast-forward 25 years and, following on from the first step of the light rail renaissance, the network has grown beyond all recognition, catering for more than 37 million passenger journeys a year and rising.

Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of the Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) Committee, said:

   “Having overseen the development of the original plans to reintroduce a tram system to Greater Manchester, I’m immensely proud to see the positive impact it’s made to so many people’s lives.
   It took 10 years to develop the first lines out to Bury and Altrincham, so you could say that today’s birthday is in fact the realisation of 35 years of careful planning and commitment by a great many people.
   Metrolink was developed with the future in mind so it was inevitable that expansion was on the cards. It was absolutely essential that we were able to serve areas where population growth was expected, but to also be flexible enough to adapt to those places where it perhaps wasn’t forecast back in 1982 – like Salford Quays and east Manchester.
   This year has already seen us deliver the Second City Crossing and start work on a new line out to the Trafford Centre and that’s a real testament to the fact that we don’t rest on our laurels. Here’s to another 25 years of growth.”

In the City of Manchester the last tram operated in 1949. After that buses (with a few trolly buses) were used on all services.

The concept of bringing trams back into service was born back in 1982 when a Rail Study Group was created to give the local rail network a secure long-term future by creating a new north/south link across the city centre that was much easier for people to access. The group consisted of members from Greater Manchester Council, GMPTE and British Rail and it was within this group that plans to create the UK’s first modern street-running light rail system was developed. Ten years in the making and Metrolink’s opening heralded a new chapter in public transport and set the standard for other tram systems to follow.

8 March 2017: Metrolink Director bows out on a high

Metrolink Director, Peter Cushing and TfGM Committee Chair, Councillor Fender. (95KB)
Metrolink Director, Peter Cushing, and TfGM Committee Chair, Councillor Fender, attended a Second City Crossing preview event on 21 February.
Public services started on Sunday 26 February.
Picture courtesy of TfGM

The man who has overseen the completion of Metrolink’s expansion into the largest light rail network in the country has welcomed his successor into the driving seat.

Peter Cushing has formally handed over the leadership and day to day management of the network to Danny Vaughan, who has been Peter’s deputy since joining Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) from Luas, Dublin’s light rail network, in 2013.

Peter replaced then-Metrolink Director Philip Purdy in January 2013, having previously been involved with overseeing day-to-day operations on an interim basis.

He will continue in a part-time capacity to oversee the change in operator from RATP Dev UK Ltd to KeolisAmey.

Danny has taken up a new role as Head of Metrolink.

Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of the TfGM Committee, said:

   “Peter has been outstanding. He has played a vital role in successfully delivering one of the country’s largest transport projects in the Metrolink expansion.
   During his tenure – which, with the short-term impacts of the expansion felt most keenly, has been one of the most challenging periods in the network’s history – we have seen record-breaking patronage and year-on-year increases in passenger satisfaction.
   That is, quite simply, remarkable and the greatest tribute to his first-class stewardship.
   He can be incredibly proud of everything he has achieved and I wish him the very best for the future. While I am sad to lose someone of his standing and calibre, I know the network is in incredibly good hands with Danny.”

Peter said:

   “It has been an absolute honour and privilege to be part of the Metrolink team during the network’s transformation. They are a fantastic group of people and deserve a great deal of praise for the incredible things they’ve achieved in recent years.
   The past four years has not been without its challenges, but they have only served to make the many successes we’ve shared all the more rewarding.
   This year is going to be a fantastic period for the network, with completion of the Second City Crossing, silver jubilee celebrations, and a new operating contract in place.
   Collectively, it feels like a fitting point in time to end my tenure and I can think of no better person to pass the mantle to than Danny, given his vast experience in the light rail industry and his fantastic approach to working with all the partners involved.”

27 February 2017: Second City Crossing Open

On Sunday, 26 February, Metrolink’s Second City Crossing (2CC) opened from Deansgate–Castlefield via St Peter’s Square and Exchange Square to Victoria. This completes the ‘big-bang’ expansion.

Back in 2008 Metrolink had lines to Altrincham, Bury and Eccles; there were 26 T68 and 6 T68A trams.

Now there are also lines to Rochdale via Oldham, Ashton–under–Lyne, East Didsbury and Manchester Airport. A fleet of 120 Bombardier M500 trams serve all lines.

18 January 2017: Metrolink will have a new operator from July

The present operators and maintainers, RATP Dev and MPT, contracts end in July 2017. KeolisAmey’s contract will start in July and run for up to 10 years.

Their appointment follows a competitive process led by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) involving three other shortlisted bidders. It has been ratified by Greater Manchester’s Combined Authority leaders.

KeolisAmey is a joint venture partnership of UK public transport operator, Keolis, and infrastructure asset management specialist, Amey.

Across the globe, they work with public authorities to deliver innovative and pragmatic solutions that create better passenger experiences.

Together, the partnership successfully operates London’s Docklands Light Railway (DLR), which caters for more than 117 million journeys a year and has a performance and dependability record that is among the best in mainland UK (approximately 99% of trains depart on schedule).

Keolis is also the operator of Nottingham’s NET (Nottingham Express Transit) tram network, which has achieved the highest passenger satisfaction rating of all light rail networks in the country (98%), and runs the world’s largest tramway, Yarra Trams in Melbourne, Australia.

12 January 2017: Metrolink breaks ground for Trafford Park line

Work has started on the £350 million Metrolink Trafford Park line. This six-stop line will offer rapid transport connections to key business and leisure destinations on a 5.5km (3.4 mile) route to the intu Trafford Centre.

Trafford Park is the largest major employment zone in Greater Manchester outside the city centre. It is home to over 1,300 businesses and more than 33,000 jobs – with employees travelling from across Greater Manchester and further afield. The route will also take in other major visitor attractions including Old Trafford football stadium, the Imperial War Museum North and Eventcity.

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) is continuing its award winning collaboration with MPact-Thales (MPT) and WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff on the scheme. They have successfully worked together delivering the phase 3 extensions to MediaCityUK, Manchester Airport, Ashton, East Didsbury and Oldham and Rochdale, with the finishing touches being applied to the Second City Crossing.

Advanced utility works are now underway, which will run concurrently with other enabling works. Some local traffic management measures will be required at sites on Barton Dock Road, Village Way, Village Place and Trafford Wharf Road.


News 2017: top of page

This page was written by Tony Williams. Contact manwebm@lrta.org if you have any comments, ideas or suggestions about these pages.