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Manchester Metrolink News 2019

16 November 2019: Trafford Park Line; construction nears completion and testing starts
6 August 2019: Major Milestone for Metrolink works at Crumpsall
18 July 2019: Study ranks Metrolink amongst leading systems
15 July 2019: Improved Contactless Payment Launched
20 Jun 2019: Metrolink thriving, say Government figures
31 March 2019: Rochdale town centre extension fifth anniversary
22 March 2019: Trafford Park Line – Special event
20 March 2019: Major Metrolink mileage magic
28 January 2019: Ashton Line – Twice the trams, half the wait
27 January 2019: Oldham town centre line fifth anniversary
13 January 2019: Metrolink fares, new zone system

16 November 2019: Trafford Park Line; construction nears completion and testing starts

Earlier in November Trafford Wharf Road and Village Way reverted to two-way operation. They were made one–way eastbound on Monday 19 June 2017 to allow utility diversion and construction work to take place.

On 5 November the final concrete pour took place on a 15–metre stretch of track by ITV studios. It takes the total volume of concrete used on the project to 21,100 cubic metres, the equivalent of more than eight Olympic-sized swimming pools.

The first test tram has traversed the Trafford Park line track, capping a landmark week for the £350m Metrolink extension project.

Overnight on Sunday 10 November, it travelled along Trafford Wharf Road between the Pomona Metrolink stop and Warren Bruce Road. This is the start of an extensive safety and testing process. A team of engineers accompanied the tram and carried out essential safety checks as it travelled at walking speed.

Testing is expected to last several months; then driver training must take place ahead of the line opening in the first half of 2020. There will be six new stops throughout Trafford Park, as far as the Trafford Centre.

Greater Manchester Transport Committee Chair, Councillor Mark Aldred, said:

   “The development of the Trafford Park line is excellent news for Greater Manchester, and I’m delighted to see it progressing with the start of tram testing.
   When the line opens next year, it will provide a major boost to regional regeneration and economic growth by improving access to the large amount of retail, leisure, business and employment opportunities that exist in Trafford Park.
   It will also help towards reducing congestion and tackling air quality as we give people another, more environmentally-friendly alternative to the car.”

Transport for Greater Manchester Head of Metrolink, Danny Vaughan, said:

   “Last week we poured the final bit of concrete, all but marking the end of construction, and this week we’ve undertaken the first tram testing.
   This is another significant moment on our journey towards completion, as our focus now turns to the safety critical signalling systems and driver training.
   We’ve still got quite some way to go, but things are progressing very well and people can expect to start seeing a few more trams running up and down the line over the coming weeks and months ahead of the line opening in the first half of 2020.
   None of this would be possible without the work of our partners, including contractor M-Pact Thales (MPT) and the operator KeolisAmey Metrolink, and my thanks go to all those involved.”

{Includes updated 5 November 2019: Two key landmarks .... item.}

6 August 2019: Major Milestone for Metrolink works at Crumpsall

Last weekend’s work on the Bury line at Crumpsall has completed the new sidings tracks and overhead lines. These will allow future trams coming from the Trafford Centre to turn around and head back again, towards the city centre and Trafford Park.

Along with the tracks and new overhead line equipment, the work also included the installation and testing of new points machines, ready to be put into use when the Trafford Park Line opens in 2020.

Transport for Greater Manchester’s contractors MPT, used a drone to give a bird’s eye view of the works. This can be viewed here on YouTube, in a new window.

See the Crumpsall page for more information.

18 July 2019: Study ranks Metrolink amongst leading systems

An international study of light rail systems has identified Metrolink as one of the best in the World.

The system was rated as fifth best in the large cities category, scoring 66/100 based on ten separate criteria.

These were tram corridor potential; speed and urban integration; multimodal integration; pricing and ticketing; use of resources; tram service offer; reliability, accessibility, security; tram ridership; tram economic viability and public transport dynamic.

Metrolink was praised for its off-peak frequency, pricing and ticketing, use of resources, economic balance and tram ridership dynamic.

The comparative study, which looked at 32 tram systems from across the World, was published by Eurogroup Consulting this week.

For more information, view the report online; this link is to a page on the Eurogroup Consulting web site.

15 July 2019: Improved Contactless Payment Launched

Metrolink Card Reader
get me there is Transport for Greater Manchester’s smart card.
Picture courtesy of TfGM

Metrolink customers have been able to use their contactless bank card to buy a ticket at a ticket machine for some time and this will remain an option.

The new system will mean customers can simply touch-in at the start of a journey and touch-out at the end using a contactless bank card or another contactless-enabled payment device, such as a phone or watch. The system will then automatically work out the total daily fare for a customer’s journeys and the price will be capped – to ensure they are paying no more than the relevant adult daily 1-day travelcard price.

Customers must touch-in and touch-out with the same card or device for all travel on one day. If you forget to touch-in before your journey, you could be charged the contactless standard fare of £30. Forgetting to touch-out will result in an incomplete journey fare of £4.60 being charged; this is NOT included in the maximum capped daily price of £7. Avoid card clash by moving the card being used away from other cards.

If paying for a family or group travel, different card or device must be used for each person travelling. Buying a ticket from a ticket machine may be a better option,

20 Jun 2019: Metrolink thriving, say Government figures

Government figures, released today by the Department for Transport, show that the Metrolink network continues to thrive. The 93-stop network remains by far the most popular light rail system outside of London.

The data shows a number of significant increases over the past year, including how the number of passenger journeys has more than doubled since the start of the decade.

There were a total of 43.7 million Metrolink journeys in the year to the end of March 2019 - up from 41.2 million in the previous financial year and more than double the 19.2 million recorded at the start of the decade.

The data also shows increases in a number of other areas, with the average person in the Greater Manchester transport area taking an average of 15.6 tram journeys during the year, compared to 14.8 the previous year.

31 March 2019: Rochdale town centre extension fifth anniversary

This extension provided around 1km of street-running track along Drake Street to link the Rochdale Railway Station stop with the new Rochdale Town Centre stop on Smith Street.

The first service to leave the Smith Street stop did so at 05:53 on Monday 31 March 2014, just three months on from the Oldham town centre extension which saw an additional four stops open on the Oldham-Rochdale line.

This development of the line has seen patronage on it steadily increase over the last five years, with the 6,087,000 journeys recorded in 2018 more than doubling the 3,018,000 recorded in 2013.

Around 24,500 tram passenger journeys are now being made to Rochdale town centre every month, boosting access to retail, leisure and employment opportunities as well as bus services from the town’s interchange.

And Metrolink’s iconic trams have ‘clocked-up’ over 10,000,000 kilometres between Manchester city centre (Victoria stop) and Rochdale Town Centre since the extension opened, with nearly 295,000 kilometres between the Rochdale Railway Station and Rochdale Town Centre stops alone.

22 March 2019: Trafford Park Line – Special event

L-R Cllr Mark Aldred, Chair of the TfGM Committee, Andy Pritchard, Senior Project Manager MPT, intu Trafford Centre Regional Centre Director, Alison Niven and Cllr Mike Cordingley, Trafford Council’s Executive Member for Finance
Picture courtesy of TfGM

Political, transport and commercial leaders gathered at intu Trafford Centre to view the latest exciting progress made on Metrolink’s Trafford Park Line extension. They included those pictured at the final stop on the new line.

The event was held to demonstrate the construction progress made on the line’s six new stops over the last few months. Platforms and shelters have been installed at five of the stops, with the final platform due to be lifted into place next month near EventCity. Contractor MPact-Thales (MPT) has laid approximately 60% of the track for the new line and will soon start to install the overhead lines and associated equipment to power the trams.

The £350m Trafford Park Line extension, which is due to open in the first half of 2020, will add a further 5.5km and six stops to Metrolink, already the UK’s largest light rail network. The new line is being funded by Greater Manchester’s Devolution Deal, which was signed by the city-region’s leaders in 2014. Trafford Council is providing £20m towards the project.

20 March 2019: Major Metrolink mileage magic

It’s one million not out for Metrolink today as the 3006 tram became the first to clock up a landmark distance.

The vehicle, which was first introduced to the network in February 2010, moved into seven figures worth of kilometres this afternoon as it pulled into Altrincham.

The occasion was marked with a special message from the driver Ady Leigh as well as a celebratory one-off message on the vehicle’s electronic display.

It takes the total distance travelled by the current 120-tram Metrolink fleet to over 73.5 million km, which is the equivalent of just under 6000 full journeys around planet Earth.

Metrolink is one of the most sustainable and environmentally-friendly ways to get around Greater Manchester; trams emit no harmful emissions and are powered by renewable and green energy sources – which is vitally important as the city-region looks to clean-up the air we breathe. Each tram can carry over 200 passengers – equal to nearly three double-decker buses – and uses far less fuel per passenger than cars or buses.

28 January 2019: Ashton Line – Twice the trams, half the wait

From Monday 28 January trams, which previously terminated at Etihad Campus – returning to Manchester city centre and MediaCityUK, will continue to Ashton–under–Lyne. This will give a six minute interval service, instead of the former twelve minute interval service.

Halving the average waiting time to three minutes, makes Metrolink a more attractive transport option and enables more people to access leisure, educational, cultural and employment opportunities.

Boosting the number of services to meet demand supports the aims of Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham’s ‘Congestion Deal’, which was launched last year.

Encouraging more people to take up tram travel will also contribute towards the aims of the region’s Clean Air Plan, which is currently under development.The plan will set out how we can tackle harmful levels of roadside air pollution across the city-region.

27 January 2019 : Oldham town centre line fifth anniversary,

Metrolink’s popular Oldham town centre line celebrated its fifth anniversary with an impressive track record.

Around 60,000 tram passenger journeys are being made to Oldham town centre every month, boosting access to jobs, shops, cafes and restaurants and local attractions including the traditional Tommyfield Market and popular Oldham Coliseum Theatre.

The new street-running tram line brought vital transport links to the heart of Oldham town centre when it opened on 27 January 2014.

6.1 million passenger journeys were made on the Oldham and Rochdale tram line in 2018, five times more than on the rail service it replaced.

13 January 2019: Metrolink fares, new zone system

New Metrolink ticket zones launched on Sunday 13 January 2019. They have replaced 8,500 stop-to-stop fare combinations with simpler, more flexible and better value zone-based fares.

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

Phase one TVMs sold zone based tickets, passengers had to consult nearby information to see which zone contained their destination. Those old zones persisted behind the scenes, with additional zones added as the system expanded, although they were not visible to passengers.

More about the history of Fares and Zones; see Ticket Vending Machines on the Stops page.

News 2019: top of page

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