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Metrolink Stops

When Metrolink was being planned, in the 1980s, low floor technology was in its early stages and would cost more than a high floor design. The original six line plan was to convert five rail lines, build along a disused rail line to East Didsbury and the short City Centre sections. It was decided to use double ended high floor cars which match British main line platform height.

Stops are not staffed, either on segregated or street running sections. There are at least two Ticket Vending Machines, more TVM information below. Help/emergency call points enable passengers to speak to control. A staff telephone is also provided. Route maps and general information are provided on each platform.

Control can make passenger announcements over the public address system when services are disrupted. The closed circuit television (CCTV) enables control staff to see what is happening on the stops. For public and staff safety the images are continuously recorded.

Altrincham and Bury lines

On former railway stations; the lighting was upgraded, also electrical and telecommunications wiring was completely renewed. Where existing station buildings could not be modified, prefabricated equipment rooms were provided. Station canopies matching those at city centre stops were provided where required.

Platforms now have level boarding with a minimum gap over the length of a double tram. Most of the platform edge rebuilding was done as part of the 2007 upgrade works. Some were done in previous upgrade work; however these each took several weeks as work was only possible during the night when trams were not running.

Platform edges designed for main line train operation can give vertical and horizontal gaps up to 200mm from tram floor level. To reduce phase one conversion costs, each platform had an 8m long level access zone provided for the centre doors (those on each side of the articulation) of a single tram.

Profiled Platforms at City Centre Stops

In the city centre space for stops is relatively limited; for phase 1, profiled platforms were designed to overcome this. As a result, for a single tram the centre doors, those on each side of the articulation, had level access. There was a slight step down from the other doors. When double T68 trams ran, retractable steps on the second of two coupled units operated automatically with all doors, this enabled passengers to step down to the lower part of the profiled platform. Ramps with a nominal 1:20 gradient connected high, low and street levels. The street tracks alongside platforms were constructed 150mm lower than existing street level, thus the low level platforms were about 300mm above existing pavement level.

High Street (inbound) and Market Street (outbound) profiled platforms were replaced by the present Market Street stop in 1998. St. Peter’s Square platforms were made level access throughout during the 2009 track upgrades blockade. Mosley Street (outbound) closed in 2013.

In 2016/7 St. Peter’s Square was enlarged. A new double island platform stop was built at the Princess Street end of the square. This allows cross-platform interchange between first and second cross city routes in both directions.

Deansgate–Castlefield

Originally known as G–Mex, the outbound platform was to the east and inbound to the west of the footpath from Deansgate rail station to the G–Mex exhibition centre. This arrangement worked with the change over from line of sight in the city centre to signalled running on the segregated line towards Altrincham. The stop has been completely re–built and expanded, on the city side of the footpath.

Eccles line and Phase 3

All stops have full length and height platforms. These are designed to be as unobtrusive as possible and to provide the smallest possible barrier to pedestrian and vehicle circulation. For street running sections, stops are out of the flow of traffic.

Piccadilly Gardens

When first built this island platform stop had ramps at each end which gave a slight step down from the front door of all trams and the back door of the second tram in a double unit. During the 2009 city centre upgrade blockade, the track and overhead line on the bus station side were realigned and the platform widened from 4.1 to 6 metres. Full, Disability Discrimination Act compliant, level access has been provided throughout. Platform equipment has been rationalised and new canopies have been installed providing better shelter for even more people.

Ticket Vending Machines

Fares and Zones

When Metrolink first opened on the Altrincham, Bury and City Centre lines in 1992, fares were based on a zonal system. Stops in the zones were:–
Zone A; Bury, Radcliffe, Whitfield:
Zone B; Besses o'th' Barn, Prestwich, Heaton Park:
Zone C; Bowker Vale, Crumpsall; Woodlands Road:
Zone D City; Victoria, Market(inbound)/High(outbound) Streets, Piccadilly Gardens, Piccadilly (main line station), Mosley Street (outbound), St. Peters Square, G-Mex:
Zone E; Trafford Bar, Old Trafford, Stretford:
Zone F; Dane Road, Sale, Brooklands:
Zone G; Timperley, Navigation Road, Altrincham:
There were also three zones for tickets to main line stations in the Greater Manchester area.

When the Eccles line opened two more zones were added:–
Zone H; Pomona, Exchange Quay, Salford Quays, Anchorage, Harbour City, Broadway:
Zone I; Broadway, Langworthy, Weaste, Ladywell, Eccles: Later these two zones were merged.
Zones for main line stations were retained.

Metrolink zones persisted behind the scenes, although not visible to passengers. Eccles line zones were not shown to passengers.

As Phase 3 extension opened, more zones were added behind the scenes.

Original Altrincham & Bury lines and City Centre machines

Two TVMs were installed in the former booking office lobbies with an additional machine on busy platforms. They had a push button panel with four columns of six blue destination buttons with a column containing four yellow and one white ticket types plus a red cancel button. The Metrolink stops were grouped into three zones (see above). Passengers had to consult nearby information to see which zone contained their destination. The machines were cash only, accepting 5, 10, 20, 50 pence and one pound coins. Change was given if available. Tickets were printed on paper from a roll and then cut off.

Eccles line and modified original machines.

The Eccles line TVMs had a touch button panel which had seven columns of eleven yellow destination buttons. There were another two columns for white ticket type buttons, including a red cancel button. These machines accepted 5, 10, 20, 50 pence also one and two pound coins. In addition some machines could accept notes. Change was given if available. Tickets were printed on paper from a roll and then cut off. Similar whole new front panels were provided for the original TVMs. A small LCD screen showed transaction stages on the original, modified and Eccles line TVMs.

Phase 3 extensions

In September 2008, GMPTE appointed the international company Scheidt & Bachmann to design, build and install more than 200 new state–of–the–art touch–screen ticket vending machines on the Metrolink network as part of a £5.4 million project. These new machines can, in future, be upgraded to work in an ITSO Smart Card environment. They will then be capable of accepting pay–as–you–go travel cards, if introduced in Greater Manchester.

Metrolink’s old TVMs have been replaced by 115 new touch–screen machines, with more machines at busier stops. Further TVMs were installed at stops on the new lines shortly before they opened. They offer a choice of English, French, German, Spanish or Polish languages.

The available tickets included single and return tickets for both peak and off-peak travel; also various Saver Tickets covering travel in the Greater Manchester area. There were over 8,500 stop-to-stop fare combinations. Tickets are “railway type” credit card size. Payment can be made using 5, 10, 20 and 50 pence coins; £1 and £2 coins or £5, £10 and £20 notes or debit/credit cards.

New Metrolink zonal fares

In July 2018 the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) approved plans to introduce a simpler, more flexible fares and ticketing system on Metrolink. The new system launched on Sunday 13 January 2019.

Stop-to-stop single, return and period tickets have been replaced with simpler, more flexible and better value zone based tickets.

There are single anytime tickets for one journey valid for two hours. Travelcards are 1–day anytime and off–peak; also anytime for 7–day, 28–day and Annual

Every Metrolink stop is in a ticket zone. There are four ticket zones, with zone 1 covering stops in the city centre and zone 4 covering stops furthest away from the city centre.

The ticket must be valid for all the zones travelled through; it will be valid for travel anywhere within the chosen zone(s). Which and how many zones are travelled through determine price.

Zone based tickets can be bought from all the usual points of sale, including, ticket vending machines at Metrolink stops, the get me there website and app, TfGM Travelshops and from PayPoint retailers.

See Metrolink ticket zones on the TfGM web site for more details.


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