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Manchester Metrolink News 2001

21 December 2001: Trafford Centre Metrolink route progress
26 November 2001: GBP100,000 for Sale Metrolink stop overhaul
6 November 2001: Boeing Vertol trams are coming to Manchester.
2 November 2001: Advanced works for the Ashton–under–Lyne Metrolink line
19 October 2001: Watchdog move on tram fares
17 October 2001: Cameras to foil dangerous craze
10 October 2001: Oldham residents invited to air their views on South Chadderton Metrolink stop
September (2) 2001: Station Improvements
September (1) 2001: Rochdale residents invited to air their views on Newbold Metrolink stop
13 August 2001: Eccles Car Park Opened
July 2001: Second Metrolink Depot Public Inquiry
22 June 2001: Victoria Station Roof problem, GMPTA/E temporary take–over, Oldham and Rochdale line stops
25 April 2001: Stockport Metrolink extension takes a step forward
10 April 2001: East Didsbury and Stockport extension could be in Metrolink Phase Three expansion
15 March 2001: Shudehill Interchange
15 March 2001: Phase 3 shortlist
1 March 2001: GBP7 million made available to expand existing trams
03 February 2001: Powers Granted For Metrolink Extensions
31 January 2001: Funicular Railway for Stockport?
19 January 2001: Eccles Royal opening

21 December 2001: Trafford Centre Metrolink route progress.

This line moved a step closer today with the Government granting planning permission for more big retail developments near the Trafford Centre.

The Giant’s Field development, a 200,000 square feet (18 500 square metre) site, is near the Trafford Centre and opposite the mall off Barton Dock Road. This development will not create a second Trafford Centre, but it could include DIY or electrical superstores. Peel Holdings, Trafford Centre owners, have long pledged to inject a multi-million pound sum into the tram project if they got the go-ahead for the new retail development. They believe a tram link would cut traffic congestion and help swell annual visitor numbers, which already top 25 million.

A separate property company’s shopping development at nearby Barton Power Station in Trafford Park has also been approved.

Metrolink owners the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority have approved the line provided it is funded privately. Peel’s contribution is expected to be around GBP16 million of the GBP60 million the line will cost.

To move the scheme forward Chris Mulligan, GMPTE director general, will meet with Trafford council and Peel Holdings as soon as possible in the New Year.

There will be further talks when the selected two preferred bidders are known in Spring 2002

26 November 2001: GBP100,000 for Sale Metrolink stop overhaul

The Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority (GMPTA) has agreed to release GBP100,000 for substantial improvements to the Sale Metrolink stop. These are part of the second phase of improvements along the Bury — Altrincham line which will also include extensive enhancements to eighteen other stops.

The works at Sale will be refurbishment of the platform canopies, booking hall and the lift area along with the staircases, which will also be painted. CCTV coverage of the station will also be improved to increase passenger security.

GMPTE, for GMPTA, have been exploring development opportunities around the Sale stop with Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council (TMBC). Discussions are continuing and the refurbishment will be co–ordinated with these plans.

A final schedule of works for Sale will be developed in consultation with TMBC over the coming months and presented to the GMPTA for approval in January. It is expected that works will commence in Spring next year.

6 November 2001: Boeing Vertol trams are coming to Manchester.

Serco Metrolink are buying a small number of San Francisco’s Boeing Vertol trams. These vehicles have been withdrawn at the end of their service lives. Two are being brought to Manchester and another two could follow if trials prove successful. Each tram, purchased at a cost of GBP170 plus shipping costs of GBP15,000, carries around 200 people and they could be a short-term solution to ease overcrowding on Metrolink.

When the first two are here, Serco Metrolink will investigate ways of adapting them. They are standard gauge. It is necessary to ensure that the overall dimensions, including the larger space required by a moving vehicle, would fit within the city centre streets and on the former railway routes. The power system must also be checked to make sure that it does not affect Metrolink’s signalling as they travel the network.

The Railway Inspectorate has to be happy with the technical details and Metrolink’s emergency procedures. Railtrack go-ahead is also required because trams operate so close to rail lines in places. If all went according to plan, the trams could be in service within nine months

2 November 2001: Advanced works for the Ashton–under–Lyne Metrolink line

Road works are underway to build the underpass beneath Alan Turing Way and Gibbon Street. Both roads will remain open at all times.

A contra flow system is now in place on Alan Turing Way, the Intermediate Ring Road, reducing traffic to one lane in either direction. On the nearby Gibbon Street temporary traffic lights are being used. These works are scheduled to finish in June 2002 in time for the Commonwealth Games.

Construction of the extension itself will start at a later date, when the ‘Metrolink single contract’ for phase three has been awarded in late 2002.

19 October 2001: Watchdog move on tram fares

The Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority is proposing that an independent regulator be appointed to prevent unreasonable fare increases and curb inefficiencies. This would be introduced for the company which wins the phase three concession next year.

GMPTA are also considering setting up a scheme for school leavers and long-term unemployed to be trained as ticket inspectors. This will help honest fare payers, it is estimated as many as one in seven tram passengers are riding for free. This scheme could give a 10 per cent increase in income.

A Manchester Evening News check found fares in Greater Manchester are among the highest of any light rail network in Europe. However several of the other systems have subsidies or controlled fares. Metrolink has no revenue or capital subsidy and must recover all of its costs. The last fares increase was in January 2000, and at that time non-city peak fares were actually reduced. Even with present fare levels the trams are full to bursting point in the peak hours.

17 October 2001: Cameras to foil dangerous craze

Metrolink trams are to be fitted with external spy cameras linked to screens in the cab.

Over the last 18 months increasing numbers of young people have been risking their lives, by riding on the outside of the vehicles while clinging onto the back of the trams. Metrolink has a policy of prosecuting youngsters who are caught but would far prefer to stop them doing it. The problem is growing across the country and operators are trying to find a solution. Any remedy must not put those who try to ride illegally at greater risk.

In a two week trial one tram has been fitted with a camera and monitor in both cabs. All the 31–strong fleet will be equipped with cameras and monitors. Metrolink are waiting for the rest of the components, it should take three to four weeks.

The fisheye lens cameras will give the drivers a wide angle view behind, alerting them to the dangerous prank.

10 October 2001: Oldham residents invited to air their views on South Chadderton Metrolink stop

Residents in the South Chadderton area of Oldham are being given an opportunity to have their say over the plans for a Metrolink stop in their area. An exhibition showing the plans in more detail will be on display at Broadway Library from Monday 15 October until 24 October during normal library opening hours.

Then with GMPTE officers in attendance it will be at Turf Lane Community Centre between 10am and 2pm on Thursday 25 October. Also at Coalshaw Park Pavilion on Friday 26 October between 2pm and 5pm and Monday 29 October between 11am and 2pm. At these two venues the officers will answer questions from members of the public. In addition, a leaflet will be distributed to every house within 400 metres of the proposed stop location.

The plans have been developed in conjunction with Councillors and Officers from Oldham MBC. The proposals reflect the need to make environmental improvements, develop pedestrian routes and create access to the platforms for people with disabilities. A formal planning application for the stop will only be submitted to Oldham MBC once the consultation results have been analysed.

September (2) 2001: Station Improvements

The first phase of an improvement programme at existing Metrolink stations has now been completed. On the Altrincham line new stairways have replaced both of the original wooden steps and footbridge at Timperley. At Trafford Bar a new stairway to the outbound (Altrincham) platform has opened. For more details see Altrincham Line.

On the Bury Line the old booking office buildings have been demolished at Crumpsall, Heaton Park and Prestwich. For more detail see Bury Line.

September (1) 2001: Rochdale residents invited to air their views on Newbold Metrolink stop

Residents in the Newbold area of Rochdale were given another opportunity to have their say over the plans for a Metrolink stop in their area during the first week of September. An exhibition showing the plans in more detail was on display with GMPTE officers in attendance to answer any questions from members of the public.

Geoff Inskip, GMPTE’s Deputy Director General, said: "These consultations are very important and we want to ensure what looks good on paper is also the best way in practice. We rely greatly on the input of residents into the planning process. The plans for the Newbold stop have already changed significantly following previous consultation with local residents. We have now moved the proposed location of the stop further away from the Kingsway bridge into a position nearer to Morrisons, putting the stop on an island platform which would be further away from the houses. The new proposals include plans for screening and lowering the stop to reduce the visual impact and creating footpath links to Milnrow Road and Kingsway. A formal planning application for the stop will be submitted to Rochdale MBC once the consultation results have been analysed."

13 August 2001: Eccles Car Park Opened

The new Park and Ride facility was officially opened today at Ladywell in Eccles, it is located off Eccles New Road, adjacent to the Ladywell Metrolink stop. It will be an added benefit to Metrolink passengers, as well as helping relieve the frustration felt by some local motorists. Major works on parts of the local motorway network are creating considerable tail backs.

This the first purpose-built car parking facility developed as part of a Metrolink scheme and it has 450 spaces. Drivers choosing to 'park and ride' will be safe in the knowledge that their car will be secure whilst in the car park. The site, which is surrounded by a high perimeter fence, will be open and operational on a 24-hour basis with full time security staff and CCTV coverage. A number of parking spaces in close proximity to the fully accessible Ladywell Metrolink platform have been dedicated for specific use by disabled passengers.

The car park has been leased from and developed by Ship Canal Properties Ltd, part of Peel Holdings plc. GMPTE and Altram are responsible for the future operation and maintenance of the facility. Initially, cars will be able to park for free, but a small charge may be introduced later to pay towards the cost of security.

July 2001: Second Metrolink Depot Public Inquiry

The Public Inquiry into GMPTE's proposals for a second Metrolink depot in Old Trafford began on the 11th July in Manchester and was expected to last about a week. The Inspector overseeing the inquiry was Peter McMaster.

The second depot is required to support the future expansion of the Metrolink network. It will complement the existing facility which is based at Queens Road in North Manchester, providing routine maintenance and parking for the extra trams needed to resource the future 'Single Contract' extensions to Manchester Airport, Oldham-Rochdale, Ashton-under-Lyne and, potentially, Trafford Park and East Didsbury / Stockport.

After the Inquiry the Inspector will write a report based on the evidence heard, to be submitted to the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions. Based on this report the Secretary of State will take the final decision on whether or not the necessary powers are granted to enable the construction of the Depot.

22 June 2001: Victoria Station Roof problem, GMPTA/E temporary take–over, Oldham and Rochdale line stops

Victoria Station. The roof, which dates from 1904, is now letting more water through onto the outbound or Bury platform ‘A’. Because Terrazzo tiled floors and water make a slippery combination, Metrolink have taken this platform out of use for the forseeable future. Bury bound trams are now stopping at platform ‘B’ the other side of which is platform ‘C’ used by Manchester bound trams. Railtrack have plans to replace the old roof as part of their improvements to Victoria station.

The Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority has started talks with current operators Altram and the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions about an early termination of the present contract. The Passenger Transport Authority/Executive would temporarily take over running Metrolink to facilitate a seamless transfer to the new company, which will build and then operate the Phase Three lines.

Following consultations with interested parties the following new stops and stations have now been agreed. Monsall, Butler Green, Block Lane, Middleton Road, Manchester Street, King Street, Clegg Street, Mumps, Newbold Maclure Road Wet Rake and Rochdale by the town's bus station. Existing stations at Dean Lane, Failsworth, Hollinwood, Derker, Shaw, Milnrow and Newhey will be retained and updated to Metrolink standards.

25 April 2001: Stockport Metrolink extension takes a step forward

GMPTA Members have been told that Stockport MBC has now endorsed the proposed Metrolink alignment through the southern edge of the Heaton Mersey Bowl as being in the best interests of the community. Also following consultation into plans for the Chestergate area, the proposals for local traffic management and highway layout changes in this area have been modified.

As a result, GMPTE will shortly be in a position to submit a financial and economic justification for the extension to the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions at the end of April. Members were informed that if the Secretary of State responds positively to this case and agrees that the East Didsbury to Stockport extension is a scheme meriting consideration of Government funding, GMPTE intends to make an application for powers under the Transport and Works Act as soon as practicable.

The Authority will now be recommending that the Stockport Metrolink extension is submitted as a major scheme bid in this year's Local Transport Plan, although this decision will be made in conjunction with the ten district councils of Greater Manchester. Subject to the progress with the application for powers, work on the scheme could potentially start in 2003/4.

10 April 2001: East Didsbury and Stockport extension could be Metrolink Phase Three expansion

Transport chiefs in Greater Manchester have today welcomed the news that the proposed Metrolink extension to East Didsbury and Stockport could be included in the Phase III expansion of the Metrolink network.

A meeting of Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority's Policy Committee, was informed by GMPTE officers that, subject to obtaining the necessary T&W Act powers, the East Didsbury and Stockport Metrolink extension could be built under the same contract as the extensions to Manchester Airport, Rochdale via Oldham and Ashton-under-Lyne.

If powers are granted for the full East Didsbury and Stockport extension, the PTA/E would need to conduct further talks with the Government and the shortlisted consortia to include the construction of the East Didsbury and Stockport line in the Phase III contract.

Councillor Andrew Fender, Manchester spokesperson for the Authority, said: "The prospects for this scheme between Manchester and East Didsbury look encouraging. On the basis of current demand forecasts, it is highly likely that bidders will be interested in taking forward this scheme. The provision of this proven high quality transport link for the major route between Stockport and Manchester via East Didsbury would enable many thousands of car journeys to be taken off the road every year once completed and would extend the benefits already enjoyed by the people served by the Metrolink to Bury, Altrincham and Eccles, to those who live and work along the Stockport route."

15 March 2001: Shudehill Interchange

The Shudehill bus–tram interchange is to be built in Manchester city centre after a two–year planning hold–up. The GBP4m project, aimed at easing traffic congestion and public access to the city, got the green light on Friday 2nd March 2001.

The interchange, will cater for 2,000 buses a day and include a new tram stop for Metrolink. Additionally it will incorporate 803 car parking spaces to service the rebuilt city centre, in particular the Printworks complex.

Conservationists and the neighbouring landowners, Co–operative Insurance Society (CIS), condemned the original plans. The city council took account of their views and architects Ian Simpson Associates were called in to draft a third version of the plans. After months of negotiations the CIS withdrew its objections, enabling the city's development control committee to approve the new plans. The deal rules out a second public inquiry and should be approved by Environment Secretary John Prescott.

Work on the interchange could begin within months and provide state–of–the–art airport–style passenger transport and parking facilities which are very close to both the inner ring road and the former Arndale bus station. The Prudential's GBP100m Arndale North regeneration plan will enable Cannon Street and the former fume–filled bus station to be transformed into a glass–roofed pedestrian winter garden with adjoining market.

Council chiefs said the project should reduce cross–city car journeys. The new city centre strategy aims to encourage a 10 per cent shift from cars to public transport.

15 March 2001: Phase 3 shortlist

Greater Manchester PTE announced on 9 March that it had shortlisted four out of six consortia who returned pre–qualification submissions for the Metrolink Phase III concession. These consortia have now been invited to prepare tenders for the single contract.

The four consortia are:

The Metrolink single contract requires the successful tenderer to design, build, operate and maintain three extensions to the existing Metrolink network, comprising lines to Oldham and Rochdale; Wythenshawe and Manchester Airport; and Ashton-under-Lyne. Subject to private sector funding being available, the contract may also include the proposed extension to the Trafford Centre. A tender price for the line to East Didsbury and the short branch from the Eccles line to The Lowry Centre will also be requested. Depending on the overall package additional government funding may be sought for the latter two extensions. The successful consortium will also take over operation of the existing lines.

The complete package is scheduled to cost GBP593 million, spread over five years, out of which the concessionaire will be expected to contribute GBP209 million. The programme currently evolved allows a six month tender process from March following which the PTE will identify either a single or a pair of preferred consortia in the Autumn. It is then expected that a 12 month period of negotiation will result in a contract being awarded by Autumn 2002 and a commencement on site in the Spring of 2003.

1 March 2001: GBP7 million made available to expand existing trams

The Government has agreed to make GBP7 million available to enhance the capacity of the existing Metrolink system, in a move to combat current overcrowding problems.

The project received provisional funding in the Greater Manchester Local Transport Plan settlement last year. This was conditional on further appraisal of the scheme, which has now been completed.

This money will increase the capacity of existing units by approximately 50% through the insertion of a non–powered centre section in the existing trams, enabling them to carry 300 passengers - a large increase on the 210 passengers currently accommodated.

The popularity of Metrolink has been such that many of the trams operating on the Bury–Altrincham line, particularly during the peak period, experience overcrowding.

3 February 2001: Powers granted for Metrolink extensions

The Transport Minister Keith Hill has announced that the Secretary of State is to make three Orders under the Transport and Works Act giving powers for extensions to the Metrolink light rail system.

The first Order will enable the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive to acquire the land they need to build an extension from Pomona to the Trafford Centre, which was authorised by the Greater Manchester (Light Rapid Transit System) Act 1992. The powers for the 6.1 kilometre extension are still valid but the new order renews the compulsory purchase powers which had lapsed.

The Order will also allow the PTE to construct an alternative alignment for the route where it crosses the Bridgewater Canal in Trafford Park. The new alignment would cross the canal approximately 300 metres to the south-east of the location authorised in the 1992 Act.

The other two Orders concern the PTE's proposed Metrolink extension from Oldham to Rochdale which was authorised by the Greater Manchester (Light Rapid Transit System) Act 1994.

One Order will enable the PTE to acquire the land needed for the extension where it proceeds through Oldham town centre. This is also a renewal of compulsory purchase powers.

The other Order authorises a short alteration of the Metrolink alignment in the Mumps area of Oldham. Metrolink will run at street level instead of on the stilted structure originally proposed, improving interchange between Metrolink and bus facilities which are due to be developed at Mumps.

Commenting on the decision to make these Orders, Keith Hill said:

"Approval of these three Orders will give the PTE the authority they need to expand the successful Metrolink system. We believe that high quality public transport systems like the Metrolink provide an attractive alternative to the use of the car and play an important role in supporting the Government's aim of promoting sustainable and integrated transport.

"The Trafford Park and Oldham to Rochdale extensions will meet an identified public transport need and contribute to achieving that aim".

31 January 2001: Funicular Railway for Stockport?

Director of public health for Stockport, Dr Stephen Watkins, is recommending a funicular railway, to link the town's train station with the proposed joint bus and Metrolink station. There is an almost 33 metre (108 feet) height difference between them and they are about 225 metres (246 yards) apart by a straight line route. It is a walk of just over 520 metres (569 yards) along the pavement beside the roads, although a stepped footpath up the hillside is shorter.

Dr Watkins makes the recommendation in his Annual Public Health Report for Stockport. It is thought that if passengers are able move conveniently between the stations, it would encourage the use of public transport, reduce pollution and promote exercise. He believes the service should coincide with the GBP500m big bang extension to the Metrolink, if the east Didsbury spur line is extended to Stockport centre.

Dr Watkins said: “Of all the proposals, the most practical and sensible way of linking them is vertically rather than horizontally. A project like this would capture the imagination of the people of Stockport. If we are spending millions of pounds to bring the Metrolink to Stockport, and it will only cost an extra GBP2m or GBP3m to create a funicular link, then it is money well spent. The idea has been examined by engineers who have indicate that it is technically feasible and a perfectly straightforward issue.”

Other plans for the town include a shuttle bus or mammoth escalators along the steep route.

It is estimated the extension of the Metrolink to Stockport could save an estimated 500,000 car journeys a year.

19 January 2001: Eccles Royal opening

On Tuesday 9 January the Eccles Metrolink extension got the royal seal of approval when HRH The Princess Royal visited Eccles town centre to officially open the first extension to the light rail system and name one of the new trams.

The Princess Royal arrived at the Eccles Metrolink stop to be welcomed by a host of local dignitaries and met a number of staff who have been involved in bringing Metrolink to Salford Quays and Eccles. The Princess Royal then unveiled a plaque to commemorate the naming of one of the new trams currently in use on the extension, 'The Joe Clarke OBE', in honour of the late Chair of Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority, who was a keen advocate of Metrolink and instrumental in ensuring the system was extended to Eccles.

Councillor Guy Harkin, Vice-Chair of the Authority, said: "I am delighted that the Princess Royal has been able to join us today to celebrate the success of Metrolink in Eccles by officially opening the extension. Bringing Metrolink to Eccles has been an extremely proud achievement for all those involved in the project and the success which the new line has enjoyed so far is testimony to the vision and hard work of many people. I want particularly to pay tribute to Joe Clarke, Chair of the Authority, who died only a few weeks before this opening ceremony. Without his drive and determination there would be no Metrolink, to here or anywhere else in the county."

Eccles MP Ian Stewart said: "This is the most significant transport development for Salford and Eccles. The existing Metrolink lines have been highly successful and the Eccles link has been welcomed warmly by the people.

"Massive regeneration is taking place in Eccles centre and I will campaign for the Metrolink line to be extended through to Barton and Cadishead, across to Partington and back to the Trafford Centre."

Her Royal Highness then experienced the benefits of Metrolink first hand by travelling on the extension through to the Pomona stop.

News 2001: 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.