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Metrolink in the City Centre

City Centre diagram (63.9KB)

Metrolink’s original (phase 1) city centre street level routes are from the delta to Victoria, Piccadilly and Deansgate–Castlefield. They are outbound away from and inbound towards the delta. Deansgate–Castlefield to Victoria is 3.1km, this is now referred to as the first cross city route (1CC).

Phase 3 requires a second cross city route (2CC); from Deansgate–Castlefield to Victoria via Exchange Square. This is northbound towards Victoria and southbound towards Deansgate–Castlefield.

The phase 1 branch to Piccadilly is 0.7km; its phase 3 extension goes to Ashton.

On the diagram Metrolink routes and stops are shown in light green. Main line railways and stations are shown blue. The Ordsall Chord allows trains to go from Victoria to Piccadilly, and the other way without reversing.

Victoria station roof and Metrolink stop upgrade

Victoria track diagram (29.1KB)

The early 20th Century (1904) roof, originally over bay platforms 1 to 10; had by the 21st Century become worn out. It also covered a larger area than now required for the two east facing mainline bay platforms and Metrolink. Network Rail have built a new roof for this part of the station.

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

Metrolink’s layout has been rebuilt, as shown in the diagram, it now has two double sided platforms with three tracks; allowing the airport line turnback arrangements.

Exchange Square to Victoria, the first part of the second city centre crossing, opened on 6 December 2015. On 26 February 2017 the full 2CC opened. Through services use the outer faces of both island platforms. On 28 January 2018 Victoria turn–back, inner faces of island platforms, came into use. Airport line services reverse here.

Delta to Victoria Station (1CC); and on to Irk Valley Junction

When phase one was built the inbound tracks were widely separated to leave space for a bi–directional bus lane. A subsequent rearrangement of bus routes left the bus lanes unused. As part of the refurbishment of Piccadilly Gardens this area has been landscaped.

From the delta junction the route soon turns left into Market Street which has an island platform. This was built in 1998 on a disused single direction bus lane and replaced the original profiled platform Market Street and High Street stops on the outside of the tracks.

The route then turns right into and continues along High Street and Nicholas Croft before crossing Shudehill. Tram platforms at Shudehill opened on 31 March 2003, the full interchange opened on 29 January 2006.

Leaving Victoria the line passes under Cheetham Hill Road bridge and joins the former Bury Electric Line Route. For the first 1.8 kilometres from Victoria to Irk Valley Junction this is shared by both Bury and Oldham & Rochdale lines.

Delta to Piccadilly Station; 1CC

Piccadilly Gardens stop is between the gardens/office block and bus station. During the 2009 blockade, track and overhead line on the bus station side was realigned and the platform widened from 4.1 to 6 metres with DDA compliant full level access throughout. Platform equipment has been rationalised and new canopies have been installed providing better shelter for even more people.

After crossing Portland Street the route is in a reserved way on one half of Aytoun Street, the other half is for two lanes of northbound road traffic. Starting on the bridge over the Rochdale Canal, the tram route crosses the road lanes to a reserved section through the Piccadilly Place development and a short length of the west side of London Road.

The southbound road lanes are crossed to reach Piccadilly Metrolink station outbound (formerly arrival) platform. Trams to Ashton continue eastward. The former reversing sidings have become through passenger lines. Terminating trams, without passengers, use the new reversing siding to the east of Sheffield Street; returning to pick up passengers from the inbound (formerly departure) platform.

British Rail required considerable protective works to prevent the possibility of collision or fire damage to the cast iron supports for the main line platforms, which may have led to the partial collapse of their station. Thus the Metrolink station was built in a large complex concrete box in the undercoft of the main line station. The tracks and platforms are at ground level. There are steps and escalators from platform level to a mezzanine level and further steps and escalators to the main line station concourse.

Metrolink was originally provided with two lifts one from the outbound platform to mezzanine and main line levels and second lift which operates between inbound platform and mezzanine level.

The mezzanine level was extended in 2001 to give access to steps and escalators down to the new Fairfield Street entrance. This entrance is for passengers arriving and departing by taxi and car. There are also two lifts between the Fairfield Street entrance level, mezzanine level and main line level.

An alternative step free route from the outbound platform is available by using the foot track crossing, at the far end from the lift; then along the inbound platform to the Fairfield Street Lower Concourse which is at street level.

The original entrance ramp is now reserved for pedestrians, Manchester free bus and rail replacement bus services. See the TfGM Manchester free bus page for more details, including revised routes and times.

Delta Junction to St. Peter’s Square (1CC)

A Passenger Information Display at the corner of Parker Street and Mosley Street shows the next Altrincham trams, from both Piccadilly Gardens and Market Street stops. This information is also shown on both Market Street and Piccadilly Gardens stop PIDs, alternating with the usual departure information for that stop.

From the delta junction the route is along Mosley Street where the outbound lane is tram only.

After passing the City Art Gallery and crossing Princess Street, trams reach the new double island platform St. Peter’s Square stop. This allows cross–platform interchange between first and second cross city routes in both directions.

Deansgate–Castlefield to St. Peter’s Square

First and second cross city routes share the section. Metrolink’s viaduct, alongside Manchester Central takes tracks from the former railway viaduct down to street level. This was constructed in reinforced concrete and clad with brick covered panels to match the appearance of the exhibition hall.

Between the curve from Deansgate–Castlefield stop to the bowstring bridge over Great Bridgewater Street there is a trailing crossover. This is now only for emergency use and fitted with sprung point mechanisms. Metrolink tracks on Lower Mosley Street have been re-built.

Second Cross City (2CC)

2CC is northbound from Deansgate–Castlefield and southbound towards it.

Inbound, the 1CC & 2CC points are south of Windmill Street, which is crossed as interlaced tracks. On the reserved way, 2CC northbound track is adjacent to the Midland Hotel, 1CC inbound track diverges onto the former reserved way outbound track space.

The combined outbound track leaves the reserved way north of Windmill Street and shares road space with vehicular traffic until it has crossed Peter/Oxford Streets; into the square. Just before the platform it splits into southbound 2CC and outbound 1CC.

After St. Peter’s Square stop, the second cross city route turns into Princess Street, runs alongside the Town Hall and Albert Square. It then turns into and runs along Cross Street, continuing along Corporation Street, with an island platform stop at Exchange Square, and onto Victoria Station.

St. Peter’s Square

The square has been enlarged and re–modelled, as part of Manchester City Council’s Civic Quarter regeneration. It now includes the space between Princess Street and Peter/Oxford Streets in a north–east/south–west (ne/sw) direction also the Town Hall & Central Library buildings to the north–west to the new 1 & 2 St. Peter’s Square office blocks to the south–east.

The Cenotaph has been relocated near to the narrow south–eastern end of the Town Hall. A reinforced concrete slab covers the crypt of St. Peter’s Church. Also the cross marking this crypt has been re–positioned. Apart from Metrolink, the expanded St. Peter’s Square is traffic free. General traffic in a ne/sw direction and the sw/ne bus routes have been removed.


Deansgate-Castlefield stop diagram (9KB)

Originally the platforms were on opposite sides of the footpath from Deansgate rail station to Manchester Central, outbound to the east and inbound to the west. It 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.

There are steps at both ends of the platforms. The island platform has a ramp at the city centre end. To give step free platform access to the outbound platform, which is slightly west of its former position; the level path against the viaduct wall has been replaced by a path with ramps in both directions. A new wall with a translucent vertical extension has been built on its own foundation just inside the original parapet.

A left hand facing turnout, just west of the old inbound platform position, takes the new inbound line through the former platform site. Associated with this is a crossover which enables a length the old inbound track to become bi–directional. This layout, shown in the diagram, is controlled by TMS.

A new stairway from Whitworth Street West pavement to the stop has replaced the former stairway at the Albion Street end.

The footbridge from Deansgate rail station, has been refurbished. New transparent side walls have been provided within the existing skeletal structure. These replaced the ‘tubular’ covering which had deteriorated becoming considerably darker and broken in places. A new lift and lightweight stair arrangement set in front of a dramatic ‘green wall’ have replaced former brick stairway at the Deansgate end of Whitworth Street West.

TMS is now in use for the city centre and lines to Cornbrook and beyond.

See City South for a description of the segregated line to the south.

City Centre: top of page

This page was written and illustrated by Tony Williams. Contact if you have any comments, ideas or suggestions about these pages.