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Manchester Metrolink Upgrades 2009


Metrolink in the city centre reopened on 2 November 2009 after the city centre upgrades blockade which started on 6 April 2009. Track from Victoria to G–Mex and through Piccadilly Gardens to just south of Portland Street was renewed. Working in partnership with Manchester City Council, GMPTE have had all–new, high quality street finishes installed throughout the city centre.

Both the St Peter’s Square and Piccadilly Gardens stops have been upgraded with wider platforms and level access throughout. New TVMs have been installed at these stops. All the city centre stops now bear Metrolink’s new identity, which will be rolled out across the remainder of the network.

During August both the Altrincham and Eccles lines were closed, enabling stop and overhead line upgrades. Also new connections were built at Trafford Bar stop for the Chorlton line and Trafford tram depot. The track layout at Cornbrook was extensively remodelled; the narrow north end bay platform track was removed. A new double ended ‘pocket turnback’ siding was built for the new MediaCityUK tram service and to provide greater operational flexibility and service availability. Between Harbour City and Broadway stops on the Eccles line, a new junction was built for the spur to MediaCityUK.

GMITA has also announced that two free days of travel will be provided on the Metrolink network — on Saturday 14 November and Thursday 19 November 2009.

Victoria Station Track Renewals

A short length of track, from 100m north of Victoria Station for approximately 500 metres, was not renewed during the blockade in 2007. This was renewed over four Sunday possessions; 8, 15, 22 and 29 March 2009.

Tram services operated between Bury and Crumpsall. From Crumpsall to Piccadilly Stations a replacement bus service operated following the usual Sunday service schedule

City Centre Track Upgrades

The first stage took place from Saturday 27 September to Friday 21 November 2008. The track from Piccadilly Undercroft through Piccadilly Place and along Aytoun Street to a point just before Portland Street was renewed.

During 2009 the remaining city centre track has been renewed. For moving trams — to and from Altrincham and Eccles lines — before and after service during the night hours — one track was available. From April to end August it was the northbound track, then from September the southbound.

Additionally St. Peter’s Square platforms were made level access throughout during this blockade.

Metrolink Services during City Centre Track Upgrades

Altrincham (12 minute service with double trams) and Eccles (normal 12 minute service) both operated to St. Peter’s Square.

Initially between Bury and Victoria a 12 minute service with double trams ran at all times. This overloaded the substations causing circuit breakers to trip and also may have damaged the transformer at Woodlands Road. An amended service ran.

A brief summary of replacement bus service details, including Altrincham and Eccles lines during August, is at the foot of this page.

Overhead Line Upgrade — Cornbrook to Altrincham

British Rail converted the Altrincham line electrification from 1500V DC to 25kV AC in 1971. Most of the existing portal structures were reused but the catenary and contact wires, insulators and other components were replaced with 25kV equipment using a fixed–termination arrangement.

On Metrolink conversion, for each track, an additional heavier cable was suspended from the portal structures and electrically bonded to the 25kV catenary and contact wire. Subsequently a second heavier cable has been added and bonded to the first.

During August 2009 the old 25kV OHLE was removed. New auto–tensioned catenary and contact wires have been installed. The two previously installed additional cables have been retained and bonded to the new OHLE.

Unfortunately electrical problems prevented the Altrincham line reopening fully on 1 September. Then on the 2nd it opened but a few hours later, a failure occurred between Timperley and Navigation Road, damaging the pantographs on a double tram and bringing a some overhead line down.

This section, controlled by Network Rail, is alongside the Stockport to Chester line; it thus took longer to repair than might otherwise have been possible.

In compensation GMPTE gave free travel for all from the 4th to 7th on Altrincham and Eccles lines.

The line reopened on Sunday 7 September.

Altrincham Line Stop Upgrades

Metrolink’s new yellow and silver identity has been applied. Concrete bases for the new TVMs have been installed.

Old Trafford
A new 120 metre long platform, alongside the cricket ground, replaced the old inbound one for trams to Manchester. The underpass has been replaced by a new surface level crossing. Also the Altrincham bound platform has been extended to 120 metres. and the stop reopened to passengers on 1 September. Although most of the work was done during August, construction of the new gated queuing system and other works continued during September &c. When the new line of sight tram operating system is in use, in 2010, the double length platforms will enabling two double trams to stop at a time.

Dane Road
The stairs from the platforms and footbridge have been opened up. TVMs have been relocated, one on each platform. A redundant building on the outbound platform has been removed.

Doors at the top of the stairways, which were previously closed, have been removed. When the new TVMs have been installed on the platforms, the booking office lobby will be closed off — former doorways, from the pavement, into it have been blocked up. The platform canopies have been re–roofed.

The inbound platform canopy has been re–roofed. A long disused cycle store has been demolished and the booking office building wall will be restored. A new stairway will be built, on the eastern side of the station building, between road and station approach levels. At present two TVMs remain in the former booking office lobby with one on each platform. When the new TVMs are installed the booking office lobby will be closed off.

The former inbound platform canopy has been removed. New shelters are to be provided on both platforms. Both lifts are to be refurbished, then access to the outbound platform lift will be through a formerly bricked up doorway in the wall that has been opened. When the new TVMs have been installed on the platforms, the booking office lobby will be closed off.

Piccadilly Gardens and St. Peter’s Square stop upgrades

Major overhauls of these stops — two of the most heavily used on the network — were done as part of the city centre upgrades. They are in the new Metrolink identity. New state–of–the–art touch–screen ticket machines have been installed.

At Piccadilly Gardens, the stop has been widened from 4.1 to 6 metres with full, DDA compliant, level access. New canopies have been installed to provide better shelter for even more people.

The St Peter’s Square stop has be widened and the platform heights modified to allow level boarding for all passengers. Before the design was finalised there were consultations with Manchester City Council, English Heritage, the Royal British Legion and Manchester and District Local Ex–Services Associations; the stop being located between Manchester’s landmark Central Library and the War Memorial.

Bus Services diversions

For the duration of the works, bus services which normally use Mosley Street were diverted via Great Bridgewater Street and Portland Street to and from Piccadilly Bus Station.

Replacement bus services

From 06 April 2009 the following bus services ran:–
  G–Mex stop — Piccadilly station
    Every 20 minutes throughout the day, seven days a week.
  Victoria — Shudehill — Piccadilly Gardens — Piccadilly station
    Every 10 minutes (Monday to Saturday, 7am to 7pm).
    Every 20 minutes (evenings and Sundays).

From 18 May 2009 Metrolink replacement bus services were revised following passenger feedback. The busses served stops near Victoria, Piccadilly Gardens, Piccadilly Station and St Peter’s Square. They ran every 12 minutes from the first bus up to 7pm Monday to Saturday and every 20 minutes after 7pm and on Sundays.

From 08 September 2009 the following replacement bus service ran:–
  St Peter’s Square — Piccadilly station — Piccadilly Gardens — Victoria
    Every 12 minutes until 7pm Mondays to Saturdays
    Every 20 minutes after 7pm Mondays to Saturdays and all day on Sundays

Replacement bus services during August 2009

Replacement buses, X5 to Altrincham and 200 to Eccles, ran every 10 minutes Monday to Saturday until 19:00 hours and every 15 minutes at all other times. These services ran during normal tram operating times. Bus stops were marked with a yellow sticker. There was also an X6, a supplementary service from Manchester to Brooklands; it ran Mondays to Saturdays from 07:30 to 18:00 every 30 minutes, and more frequently during morning and afternoon peak periods. Passengers bought buy tickets from the driver when boarding the bus. A simplified and lower fare structure was in place.

X5 from Manchester Victoria to Altrincham stoped at:–
Corporation Street, opposite Victoria station; Fairfield Street, near Piccadilly station entrance; Piccadilly/Chatham Street outbound and Portland Street inbound for Piccadilly Gardens; Portland Street, near Princess Street for St Peter’s Sq.; Deansgate Station for G–Mex; Chester Road near Cornbrook; Talbot Road near Trafford Bar, change for buses to/from Eccles; Talbot Road for Old Trafford; Chester Road, Stretford Mall/Arndale for Stretford; Cross Street for Dane Road; Washway Rd/School Road for Sale; Washway Rd/Marsland Rd for Brooklands; Park Road near Timperley tram stop; Wellington Road near Navigation Rd tram stop; Altrincham Interchange

X6 from Piccadilly to Brooklands stoped at:–
The same places as the X5 from Fairfield Street, near Piccadilly station entrance to Chester Road, Stretford Mall/Arndale for Stretford; then outbound at Dane Road, Sale and Brooklands tram stops (off the main road route) returning inbound via the X5 main road stops at Washway Rd/School Road for Sale to Corporation Street, opposite Victoria station.

200 from Piccadilly to Eccles stoped at:–
The same places as the X5 from Fairfield Street, near Piccadilly station entrance to Talbot Road near Trafford Bar, change for buses to/from Altrincham/Brooklands; then bus stops near Exchange Quay, Salford Quays, Anchorage also for Harbour City, Broadway, Langworthy, Weaste, Ladywell and Eccles tram stops.

Upgrades 2009: top of page

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