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Manchester Metrolink News 2004

Back On Track Campaign news items are now on a separate page — other news items below.

8 October 2004: Navigation Road and Whitefield — new Park and Ride sites
8 October 2004: We’ve run out of trams
26 July 2004: Fury at Metrolink Funding Decision
16 June 2004: Overhead Line Failure
16 June 2004: Cornbrook Metrolink Stop
16 June 2004: Trafford Bar Stop Improvements
12 May 2004: End of the line for tram fare dodgers
10 May 2004: Metrolink in line for safety boost
30 April 2004: Altrincham Interchange & Rochdale bus station
19 April 2004: New Piccadilly Travelshop and Metrolink Visitors Centre
8 April 2004: New Rochdale bus station is proposed
2 March 2004: Oldham Church move agreed for tram route
14 February 2004: Cornbrook Metrolink Stop to open
6 February 2004: Second Depot
6 February 2004: Bury and Altrincham Line Stop Upgrade Works
23 January 2004: Eccles Travelshop Investigation
23 January 2004: Metrolink Park and Ride sites get GBP1.3 million backing
22 January 2004: Didsbury tram line on track for extra capacity

8 October 2004: Navigation Road and Whitefield — new Park and Ride sites

Navigation Road

At the 3 September 2004 meeting of GMPTA’s Policy Committee members approved a GBP400,000 programme of works that will enable the creation of a new 75 space car park, incorporating seven disabled user spaces, ten cycle stands and five cycle lockers. Construction work is due to start at the end of October, with completion scheduled for spring 2005.


At the 8 October 2004 meeting of GMPTA’s Policy Committee members gave the go–ahead for enabling works to start on site as soon as possible. They released GBP250,000 for service diversion and clearance works, paving the way for construction of the GBP1 million facility during spring and summer next year.

Members of the Committee will receive a report on the progress of the enabling works in early 2005, outlining an implementation programme for the construction works.

Ultimately the Park and Ride will have 133 car parking spaces, including eight for disabled car users, eight motorcycle stands, three cycle stands, five cycle lockers, a bus turning area and two high specification passenger waiting shelters.

8 October 2004: We’ve run out of trams

Mid morning on Sunday 26 September a rubbish truck ran into a tram in the Salford Quays area. The truck driver had to be cut free from the cab and taken to hospital. A tram passenger also had to go to hospital.

The Eccles line was closed for three hours while the wreckage was cleared. This tram, which was derailed and damaged, has to be taken away for repairs.

A refurbishment programme for the original 26 phase 1 trams takes each one away for about eight weeks.

If another of the trams, that can run on the Eccles line, has to be taken in for repairs there will be a 24 instead of 12 minute interval between services once an hour.

Should one of the other (12 year old) trams which can only run on the Altrincham–Manchester–Bury line be out of service one less double unit can be run in peak periods.

Part of the phase 3 plans would provide more trams to run extra double units between Altrincham and Bury and some spares.

26 July 2004: Fury at Metrolink Funding Decision

On Tuesday 20 July 2004 in Parliament the Secretary of State for Transport, the Rt Hon Alistair Darling MP, delivered the Government’s Statement on Transport Strategy.

In this he said, “Manchester’s metro has been extremely successful. But plans for the extension have been dogged by successive cost increases. The central Government capital contribution rose from GBP282 million cash in 2000 to GBP520m cash in 2002, on top of which required annual central government payments have also risen from GBP5m a year in 2000 to GBP17m a year today — worth roughly another GBP150m.”

He also referred to the Leeds and South Hampshire tram proposals. He then said, “And in each case there's no certainty that costs won't rise further. The NAO* was right to raise concerns; looking back over the last 20 years it has cost more to provide light rail here than elsewhere in Europe.” He continued, “No Government could accept these schemes as they are on the basis of these cost escalations. We cannot therefore approve them. We need instead to look urgently at how light rail could be made affordable, including the best approach for procurement. We will work with local authorities on the development of schemes, building on the recent NAO recommendations.”

The reaction in Greater Manchester was of anger and fury. Councillors, business leaders, local newspapers and many people want to see the Metrolink extensions back on track.

The Oldham Evening Chronicle reported that three local MPs met Mr Darling on Wednesday 21 July, they said, “It is the uncertainty of the costs more than the amount which is causing the problem. As far as we are concerned Metrolink is not on a red light, nor is it on green — at the moment it is on amber.” They added, “What has led to the increase is that the banks, which underwrite the tram schemes, have got cold feet about railways in general and light rail in particular.”

In an interview with the Manchester Evening News published on Friday 23 July Mr Darling said, “Both the Prime Minister and I accept that the Manchester Metro is one of the most successful metros in the country.” He indicated that the way light rail projects are procured will have to be examined. Also he made it clear that he and his officials will meet the Passenger Transport Authority to discuss ways of resolving the impasse.

By 26 July there have been over thirty articles in the local papers.

*NAO — the National Audit Office — published a report on 23 April 2004 entitled Improving public transport in England through light rail. See News Item in the main news section.

16 June 2004: Overhead Line Failure

Early in the afternoon of 16 June the overhead power line broke, becoming entangled with one or both pantographs of a northbound double tram near Stretford stop on the Altrincham line. Metrolink were able to arrange some replacement bus services between Old Trafford and Altrincham. Extensive repairs took place but it was about 18:00 on 17 June before normal service resumed.

16 June 2004: Cornbrook Metrolink Stop

Works to enable Cornbrook Interchange to become a fully accessible Metrolink stop have begun. The Metrolink abutment walls which carry the bridges over Cornbrook Road have been painted white. On the 16 June work was underway on the North/West face of the viaduct brickwork.

16 June 2004: Trafford Bar Stop Improvements

The Manchester bound platform new stairway is in use. The pedestrian ramp has been extended, by a looped doubling back at the lower end, in order to reduce the gradient. The TVMs remain in the old Booking Office lobby. The old railway type stairs have been removed.

12 May 2004: End of the line for tram fare dodgers

Fare dodgers are inviting a long walk. Metrolink have introduced a check and eject scheme where a group of inspectors converge at stops and check all passengers’ tickets. Those without a ticket are forced to walk the rest of their journey.

Following complaints from customers that other passengers were riding late–night services without a ticket, teams of inspectors have been targeting known haunts for fare dodgers.

Undercover inspectors in plain clothes ride around the Metrolink routes and challenge passengers to prove they have a ticket.

Hand–held electoral roll computers, introduced last year, enable inspectors to check the name and address of a passenger within seconds.

The percentage of passengers found without a ticket during checks last month was just three per cent — the lowest since records began 12 years ago. Operator Serco declared war on fare dodgers 18 months ago when it was estimated that one in every six passengers was riding without a ticket.

10 May 2004: Metrolink in line for safety boost

The GMPTA’s Transport Network Committee received a report on the successful trial of a team of Public Safety Officers patrolling the tram network.

Two Public Safety Officers have been riding the Metrolink network since February, proving highly effective in reducing antisocial behaviour, enforcing the Metrolink by–laws and stopping the congregation of groups at a number of stops. In addition, fare dodging has been reduced — in the four week period the officers travelled the Bury line, illegal travel without a ticket halved.

The team of Safety Officers is now set to be expanded to six, so that the Bury, Altrincham and Eccles lines can all be patrolled by dedicated teams of two Officers for the last eight hours of Metrolink operation, seven days a week.

The scheme has been introduced as part of the wider Greater Manchester Transupport initiative, which brings together all the key partners involved in delivering safe and secure public transport services.

Under Transupport, police officers, special police officers and Greater Manchester’s new Police Community Support Officers are all entitled to free travel on bus and Metrolink, in an endeavour to deter antisocial behaviour and reassure the travelling public.

30 April 2004: Altrincham Interchange & Rochdale bus station

On 30 April 2004 Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority members agreed that plans for Altrincham Interchange and a new bus station at Rochdale should each be designated as a major transport scheme.

The schemes will be put before Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA) for approval in May.

The intention is to include them in the July submission, to the government, for the 2005/6 Greater Manchester Local Transport Plan (LTP).

If successful, this will enable detailed design works to commence in 2005.

Further details of the Altrincham Interchange and Rochdale bus station schemes are on the News 2003 and News 2004 pages.

19 April 2004: New Piccadilly Travelshop and Metrolink Visitors Centre

A GMPTA Policy Committee meeting on 19 April 2004 received a progress report on plans to create a brand new Travelshop and Metrolink Visitors Centre at the new One Piccadilly office development at Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens.

The Travelshop, currently on Parker Street, will continue to provide timetable and ticket information for local public transport services at its new location, as well as selling public transport tickets. The new Metrolink Visitors Centre will provide up–to–date information on the current and future Metrolink network. An office will also be provided for GMPTE’s Bus Station Supervisors.

Design works for the scheme have now been completed and tenders received from contractors for the fitting out of the new units. It is expected that works on fitting out the new offices will be completed by late Autumn 2004.

8 April 2004: New Rochdale bus station is proposed

On Friday the 2nd April 2004 GMPTE announced the consultation process for a new bus station which is seen as a key to Rochdale town centre regeneration plans.

The proposals are being made by a partnership including GMPTE, Rochdale MBC and Rochdale Development Agency. They are the first phase of public consultation on major regeneration plans for the wider town centre. Thousands of information leaflets, asking for feedback, are currently being distributed throughout the town. This information is also available in PDF format on the GMPTE web site.

The existing bus station is sited under a multi–storey car park. Although there have been a number of improvements over the years, it remains unattractive to users.

The new Riverside location will enable the creation of a modern, accessible integrated transport hub — complete with Metrolink, new bus station and taxi rank. It will be on the opposite side of Smith Street to the current bus station.

Relocation will open up new development possibilities for the present bus station site. Some of the other emerging proposals for the town centre include extending and improving the Wheatsheaf Shopping Centre, refurbishing Municipal Offices, building a new multi–storey car park, and constructing new health facilities in the town.

Consultation on the bus station proposals will end on Friday 16 April. After that the comments will be evaluated and the proposals further developed to secure funding for the scheme.

2 March 2004: Oldham Church move agreed for tram route

On the 2nd March, King Street Baptist Church Members gathered at GMPTE’s headquarters to sign an agreement that will see the Church relocated. The existing building is on the Metrolink route through Oldham.

This agreement follows talks between members of the Church, GMPTE and Oldham Council. Late last year all parties confirmed a site at Chaucer Street in Oldham town centre was an appropriate location for the new place of worship.

Discussion on the planning application for a new Church is expected shortly and it is hoped construction work could commence as early as Summer this year.

14 February 2004: Cornbrook Metrolink Stop to open

Cornbrook Interchange is to become a fully accessible Metrolink stop.

At a 10 February 2004 meeting the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority agreed to join Trafford MBC, Manchester City Council, Manchester Ship Canal Company, Serco Metrolink and private developers in the funding of the works.

GMPTA have agreed to provide GBP96,000 towards the GBP250,000 cost of the scheme.

Improvements in the vicinity of the new stop will include a new footpath link along Cornbrook Road, upgrades to the access road, improved boundary fences, new lighting, CCTV cameras, signage and cleaning of the brickwork on the bridges and viaduct.

Cornbrook Interchange opened as part of Metrolink’s expansion into Salford Quays and Eccles, it has always been intended to be a fully functioning Metrolink stop, rather than just an interchange point.

The area around the Interchange has, at present, quite an inhospitable environment. All the partners involved in the scheme have agreed that both the stop and surrounding area need to be improved together.

Trafford MBC will be co–ordinating most of the works for the scheme. They are currently developing detailed construction drawings for the highways works, with contractors expected to start work on the site in May.

6 February 2004: Second Depot

GMPTE now owns the land and properties on the site of Metrolink’s second depot at Old Trafford. Fencing has been erected and clearance work started. The depot site is bounded by the Altrincham line, Ayres Road and the former railway line to Chorlton.

6 February 2004: Bury and Altrincham Line Stop Upgrade Works


The stairways have been opened up. A new open footbridge over the line has been provided. A ramp from the upper lift level to the inbound platform is now open. The lighting has also been improved.

Trafford Bar

Work continues on building the new stairway to the Manchester bound platform. The tram stopping point has been moved to allow this work. Platform access is by a new pedestrian ramp, part temporary and part final. The TVMs remain in the old Booking Office lobby. Both of the old railway platform stairways have been closed and removed.

Dane Road

The Altrincham bound platform is being renewed, trams are presently stopping at the south end beyond the usual position.


The Altrincham bound platform has now been renewed, trams are again stopping at the usual position.

23 January 2004: Eccles Travelshop Investigation

Eccles Interchange could have a new Travelshop and Supervisor’s Office. GMPTE are investigating leasing or possibly purchasing a nearby property on Church Street, which has been identified as a suitable location. GMPTA have released GBP35,000 towards design and development work.

Since it opened in 2001 the Eccles Interchange has increased in use and importance. Physical constraints of the site limit the current passenger facilities.

Travelshops play an important role at bus stations and interchanges throughout Greater Manchester, providing information and ticketing facilities for thousands of passengers. If it can be provided, Eccles’ transport users should definitely benefit from a staffed Travelshop and an office where passengers could contact the Supervisor.

GMPTE Officers will present a future report to the Authority once the proposals have been developed.

23 January 2004: Metrolink Park and Ride sites get GBP1.3 million backing

More drivers will be able park their cars and take the tram after the GMPTA’s Policy Committee agreed to release GBP1.3 million to develop four Park and Ride car parks at stops along the Bury — Altrincham Metrolink line.

GMPTE reported that planning approvals have been obtained for Park and Ride sites at the Navigation Road, Crumpsall, Besses o’ th’ Barn and Whitefield stops.

Metrolink has been successful in attracting car drivers. Many of the stops along the Bury — Altrincham line have car parks and all of them are extremely well used.

Crumpsall stop has a new 43 space car park planned, the existing car park on the main road only has about ten spaces. The new Park and Ride will go some way to relieving the pressure on it. Metrolink users on the Bury line will soon have a further 199 parking spaces be made available to them.

All the schemes will involve upgrading access to the stops to the latest Disability Discrimination Act standards. Besses o’ th’ Barn in particular will benefit from a new access ramp that will greatly improve access for Metrolink users with disabilities.

At the Whitefield stop a planned three bus turning circle will help to integrate cars, buses and trams.

These four schemes have been subject to extensive local consultation during the planning process and received widespread support. They have been accelerated as the land is already owned by GMPTE.

GMPTE are reviewing all existing and planned Metrolink stops to identify Park and Ride possibilities across the entire network. A future GMPTA meeting will receive a report on the development of further Park and Ride proposals.

22 January 2004: Didsbury tram line on track for extra capacity

The Department for Transport (DfT) has given GMPTE permission for double track from School Lane to Kingsway on the proposed East Didsbury Metrolink line.

Parliamentary powers for this line were granted by Government in 1991. At that time the land available — in the area that is now Olive Shapley Avenue — only allowed space for construction of a single track.

Developments in the area have meant that more land has become available and the DfT has now granted the relevant permission, stating that: “The Secretary of State believes that the construction of a double line rather than single line at this location will enable extra capacity to be provided.”

Metrolink’s Didsbury Village stop will be south of School Lane. Didsbury station was north of School Lane. GMPTE and the developer of the old railway station site are working in partnership to remove spoil from the route of the East Didsbury line. This will enable further development of the station site whilst retaining the cutting for use by Metrolink.

Proposals for building the East Didsbury extension are contained in the two bids GMPTE is currently evaluating for the Phase 3 Metrolink ‘single contract’ from Greater Manchester Tramways Ltd and Manchester Tram Company. GMPTE expects to announce the preferred bidder in Spring, with a final award of contract in the Summer.

News 2004: 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.