Manchester Metrolink


Manchester Metrolink
Metrolink
Manchester Metrolink 2008 logo.png
Greater Manchester Metrolink - tram 3009A.jpg
Info
Owner Transport for Greater Manchester
Locale Greater Manchester
Transit type Tram/light rail[1]
Number of lines
Number of stations 42 (as of July 2011, at least 96 by 2016)
Daily ridership 56,000
Headquarters Metrolink House,
Queens Road,
Manchester, England
Operation
Began operation 6 April 1992 (1992-04-06)
Operator(s) RATP Group[3]
Number of vehicles 26 T68
6 T68a
43 M5000 (74 by 2016)
Train length 30 m (98 ft)
Technical
System length 37 km (23 mi)
Track gauge Standard gauge
Minimum radius of curvature 25 m (82 ft)[4]
Average speed 48 km/h (30 mph)
Top speed 80 km/h (50 mph)
Metrolink route map
Legend
Unknown BSicon "uKBFa"
Bury Bus interchange (Heritage railway Bury)
Urban stop on track
Radcliffe
Urban stop on track
Whitefield
Urban stop on track
Besses o'th' Barn
Urban stop on track
Prestwich
Urban stop on track
Heaton Park
Urban stop on track
Bowker Vale
Urban stop on track
Crumpsall
Urban stop on track
Abraham Moss
Urban stop on track
Woodlands Road
Urban straight track
(Weekday off peak)
City Zone
+ Hub
Urban stop on track + Hub
+ Hub
+ Hub
Victoria National Rail
+ Hub
Urban stop on track
+ Hub
Shudehill Bus interchange
+ Hub
Urban stop on track
+ Hub
Market Street
+ Hub
Unknown BSicon "uABZld"
Urban transverse track + Interchange
Urban track turning from right + Hub
Piccadilly GardensBus interchange
Mosley Street
+ Hub
Unknown BSicon "uBHFlf"
Unknown BSicon "uKBFe" + Hub
PiccadillyNational Rail
St Peter's Square
+ Hub
Urban stop on track
+ Hub
+ Hub
Urban stop on track
+ Hub
Deansgate-Castlefield
+ Hub
Urban straight track + Hub
+ Hub
+ Hub
(National RailDeansgate)
Cornbrook
Unknown BSicon "uINT"
Urban straight track Urban head station
St Werburgh's Road
Urban straight track Urban stop on track
Chorlton Bus interchange
Waterway turning from left Unknown BSicon "uABZrl" Urban track turning from right Urban stop on track
Firswood
Urban straight track Urban stop on track Urban straight track
Trafford Bar
Pomona
Urban stop on track Urban junction to left Waterway turning to right
Exchange Quay
Urban stop on track Urban stop on track
Old Trafford
Salford Quays
Urban stop on track Urban stop on track
Stretford Bus interchange
Anchorage
Urban stop on track Urban stop on track
Dane Road
Harbour City
Urban stop on track Urban stop on track
Sale
MediaCityUK
Unknown BSicon "uABZld" Unknown BSicon "uKBHFr" Urban stop on track
Brooklands
Broadway
Urban stop on track Urban stop on track
Timperley
Langworthy
Urban stop on track Urban stop on track
Navigation Road National Rail
Weaste
Urban stop on track Unknown BSicon "uKBFe"
Altrincham National Rail Bus interchange
Ladywell
Urban stop on track
(National Rail Eccles) Bus interchange Eccles
Unknown BSicon "uKBFe"

This route map: view · talk · edit

Metrolink[5] (also known as Manchester Metrolink)[6] is a light rail system in Greater Manchester, England. It consists of four lines which converge in Manchester city centre and terminate in Bury, Altrincham, Eccles and Chorlton-cum-Hardy. The system is owned by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and operated under contract by RATP Group.[3] Metrolink trams run on-street in Manchester city centre and Eccles, but most of the routes in the suburbs use former heavy rail lines and are therefore segregated from street traffic.

The tram system is currently undergoing major expansion with 4 new lines under construction by 2016, and further potential extensions to Stockport[7] and the Trafford Centre[2] envisaged, with a "second city crossing" line planned in central Manchester (the "City Zone") to ease congestion. In 2008 work on new Metrolink lines began, beginning the extension of the system to Chorlton, East Didsbury, Ashton-under-Lyne, Oldham, Rochdale, Sportcity, MediaCityUK and Manchester Airport. Services to MediaCityUK started in 2010, while services to Chorlton started in 2011.

Once completed, the extensions will increase the system's length from 37 to 97 kilometres (23 to 60 mi) with at least 99 stops and on completion, Greater Manchester will have the largest tram network in the United Kingdom[8] with a daily ridership of approximately 190,000.

Contents

History

The need for a light rail system in Manchester was born out of a desire to link its two main railway stations, Piccadilly and Victoria. In the late 1960s and early 1970s there were plans for a "Picc-Vic tunnel" to carry main-line trains under the city centre,[9] but this proposal was abandoned because of excessive cost.

Plans for a light rail system in Manchester were first drawn up in 1984, consisting of three lines radiating from the city centre with an estimated cost of £42.5 million.[10] The plans were revised in 1987, and a trial using a prototype Docklands Light Railway train was carried out on a freight-only line.[11]

Authority to begin construction was granted in January 1988. This involved closing the heavy rail lines from Bury to Victoria (which was electrified using a non-standard and life-expired system) and from Altrincham to Manchester Picadilly for conversion, and a new route through the city centre streets. The line opened between Bury and Victoria in April 1992; the full system was operational from July that year.

A second phase, which extended the network to Eccles, was opened to Salford Quays (Broadway stop) in December 1999, and through to Eccles on 18 July 2000. The MediaCityUK spur, which is located on the Eccles line, opened in September 2010. The South Manchester line became the fourth new line to open on the Metrolink network, with trams running to Chorlton on 7 July 2011[12].

Operator

Metrolink is run as a public-private partnership between Transport for Greater Manchester and private transport firms. Between 1992 and 2007 Metrolink was operated and maintained by Serco.[13] From 2007 to 2011 it was operated and maintained by Stagecoach Metrolink—part of the Stagecoach Group—under a 10-year fixed-term management contract, which was due to run until July 2017.[14][15] RATP Group bought Stagecoach's Metrolink businesses on 1 August 2011, but Stagecoach's other British light rail system, Sheffield Supertram was not sold.[3]

Routes, stations and depots

A T-68a tram crossing the Manchester Ship Canal at Pomona
Stations are marked with yellow Metrolink signs

Routes

Monday to Saturday service:

  1. BuryAltrincham - every 12 minutes (daytime only)
  2. PiccadillyBury - every 12 minutes
  3. PiccadillyAltrincham - every 12 minutes
  4. PiccadillyEccles - every 12 minutes
  5. PiccadillyMediaCityUK - every 12 minutes (daytime only - evening journeys provided by Eccles services)
  6. VictoriaSt Werburgh's Road - every 12 minutes

The combined Monday-Saturday daytime frequency on the Bury and Altrincham routes is every 6 minutes.

Sunday and Bank Holiday service:

  1. PiccadillyBury - every 12 minutes 1000-1700, every 15 minutes at other times
  2. PiccadillyAltrincham - every 12 minutes 1000-1700, every 15 minutes at other times
  3. PiccadillyEccles via MediaCityUK - every 12 minutes 1000-1700, every 15 minutes at other times
  4. VictoriaSt Werburgh's Road - every 12 minutes 0930-1730, every 15 minutes at other times

The current route length is:

Phase 1
Bury – Victoria 15.9 km (9.9 mi)
Victoria – Deansgate-Castlefield 1.9 km (1.2 mi)
Spur to Piccadilly station 0.4 km (0.25 mi)
Deansgate-Castlefield – Altrincham 12.2 km (7.6 mi)
Phase 2
Cornbrook – Broadway 3.1 km (1.9 mi)
Broadway – Eccles 3.9 km (2.4 mi)
Phase 3
Trafford Bar – St Werburgh's Road 2.6 km (1.6 mi)

Lines

This is a list of current service lines on the Metrolink:

Bury Line Altrincham Line Eccles Line South Manchester Line

The line through Navigation Road is single track.

Stations

Rail interchanges on Metrolink include Piccadilly, Victoria, Deansgate-Castlefield (formerly G-Mex, for Deansgate railway station), Altrincham and Navigation Road. Eccles is also available for interchange via a walk of 400 metres (440 yd).

Major bus interchanges are at Bury, Victoria, Shudehill, Piccadilly Gardens, Altrincham and Eccles. As of July 2011, there were 42 Metrolink stops: 19 of which are former British Rail stations on the Altrincham, Bury and South Manchester, 20 are new stops on the four lines plus the city centre, and 3 shared main line stations (Altrincham, Piccadilly and Victoria).

On 15 January 2010, a report was issued by GMITA (Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority) proposing the possible closure of Mosley Street station due to operational difficulties, including the annual maintenance cost of retractable steps on the trams to access the profiled platform, the cramped location being unsuitable for full length platform conversion and tram congestion affecting the nearby Piccadilly delta junction when frequency is increased[16]. Public notices were issued announcing Department for Transport consultations on the closure of Mosley Street and Woodlands Road stations ending February 2011, the closing date of the Woodlands Road consultation was later extended to March; Woodlands Road is to be replaced by a new station at Abraham Moss, some 250 metres to the north and already open, and by a new station at Queens Road which previously was only a staff halt. [17] Both consultations found in favour of closure but the final ministerial consent must await approval from the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR). In the meantime a parliamentary service has begun operating at Woodlands Road with the hours cut back so that trams only stop between 10am and 4pm on weekdays and pass through without stopping at other times.[18][19] As of June 2011 trams continue to stop at Mosley Street and work has not started at Queens Road.

Depots

The first Metrolink depot is south of Queen's Road (Cheetham Hill, M8) on the western side of the Bury line, between Victoria and Woodlands Road. The depot connections face Bury. Queens Road staff halt serves the depot.[20] This facility was not able to handle the expanded network, so GMPTE obtained a site for a second depot near Old Trafford.[21] Work on this site, alongside the track between Trafford Bar and Old Trafford, commenced in early 2009 with the demolition of the remaining buildings on the site, with the new depot opening in 2011 to coincide with the opening of the South Manchester Line. The final planned capacity for the Old Trafford depot is 96.

Fares and usage

Schematic map of the Metrolink fare zones. Since it's production, the three new Chorlton line stops are Zone P, whilst the Abraham Moss is Zone C

Fares are charged according on the number of fare zones travelled through, and whether travel is in the peak period - before 0930 on weekdays (except public holidays).

Tickets are purchased from machines at each stop. Single journeys must be completed within 90 minutes, return journeys the same day. It is possible to purchase tickets from the machines for travel all day, for groups, or all weekend. Some ticket machines accept only coins, others also accept banknotes and give a maximum of £7 change.

Metrolink now uses ticketing stock which is similar to the systems in use with National Rail services. This includes the introduction of stronger credit card sized tickets with magnetic strip encoding. Previously smaller paper tickets were issued.

Metrolink carried 18.8 million passengers in 2004[22]. According to Metrolink sources, at least two million fewer car journeys have been made each year along the tram route due to the introduction of Metrolink[23]. However, other sources suggest that the longer diversion of trains between Northwich, Knutsford and Manchester via Stockport instead of via Sale, caused by the conversion of the Metrolink line, has resulted in more traffic on the A556 as people drive to Altrincham to catch the Metrolink instead of catching the train, resulting in large increases in traffic volumes on the A556.[24] A new £130m road is to be built to solve this problem.[25] Metrolink is the busiest tram system in the UK and many services are extremely busy, especially at peak times at the city centre stations. In the first two years of Metrolink operation, peak hour patronage was well below expected levels, but off-peak patronage exceeded expectations.[citation needed] Metrolink reacted by reducing peak fares which improved loadings.

Overall in its first full year of operation 11 million journeys were made on Metrolink compared to the annual expected level of 12 million journeys after maturity^ and in the first full year of operation on the Eccles line 3 million journeys were made on Metrolink compared to the annual expected level of 6 million journeys after maturity^. [26][27].

^Maturity is defined by the National Audit Office as 'promotors figures, usually up to five years after opening'[28].

Fare evasion and penalties

All Metrolink tickets must be purchased before travel. A "standard fare" of £100 is charged to passengers who evade fares by travelling without a valid ticket or pass. To avoid prosecution, this must be paid within 21 days, and is reduced by 50% if it is paid within 14 days.[29] Metrolink is policed by the Greater Manchester Police including Police Community Support Officers. An initiative by Greater Manchester Police, which saw around 15 officers routinely patrolling the tram network, was stopped due to lack of funds. On-board ticket checks are done by Metrolink Travel Safe Officers.

It should be noted that National Rail Enquiries sometimes give passengers invalid information about rail tickets being valid on Metrolink services. Passengers can only use rail tickets on Metrolink services in the following instances:

  • The origin or destination on the ticket is a Metrolink stop or zone e.g. Sale Metrolink
  • The ticket says Manchester CTLZ as the origin or destination, in which case it is valid within the city centre zone
  • The ticket says Metrolink City as the origin or destination, in which case it is valid within the city centre zone (except in instance below)
  • The ticket says Metrolink City as the origin or destination and route:Altrincham, in which case it is valid on the Altrincham to Deansgate-Castlefield line as well as within the city centre (these tickets are only available to and from Cuddington, Greenbank, Northwich, Lostock Gralam, Plumley, Knutsford, Mobberley, Ashley and Hale stations)
  • The ticket states 'route:Metrolink'
  • A TfGM ticket that combines rail and tram travel
  • On Sundays only (and occasionally on other days during rail disruption) rail tickets between Manchester and stations between Mouldsworth and Navigation Road are accepted on Metrolink services between Altrincham and the city centre zone

Fleet

 Class  Image  Top speed   Number   Built 
 mph   km/h 
T-68 Metrolink tram.jpg 50 80 26 1991–1992
T-68a Metrolink T-68 at Piccadilly.jpg 50 80 6 1999
M5000 No 3001 Manchester Metrolink tram.jpg 50 80 74 (on order) 2008–2011

T-68

The original vehicles operated on the Metrolink network since 1991 are T-68 trams built by the Italian manufacturer AnsaldoBreda. In 1999 the same company supplied six T-68a trams for operation on the Eccles extension. In December 2007 the Metrolink fleet consisted of 26 T-68 vehicles numbered in the 1000 series, and six T68a vehicles numbered in the 2000 series.

The trams normally operate singly, except during the rush hours when there are a few double trams along the Bury–Altrincham route. The trams consist of two units joined by an articulated section, with four doors per side. They are 30 m long and bi-directional with cabs at both ends.[30] The front and rear bogies are powered, with two 750 V, 105 kW motors per bogie. The third bogie, under the articulation, is not powered. The maximum speed is 80 km/h (50 mph), however 48 km/h (30 mph) is the maximum speed allowed for street running. There are 83 seats in each vehicle (plus four folding seats) and the nominal capacity is 200 passengers (250 maximum). Up to four trams can be worked in multiple, but the platform length on the Eccles line and city centre routes allow for a double unit only. Although the former heavy rail stations on the Bury and Altrincham lines can accept a triple or quadruple tram, each platform's public area is currently shorter than its full length.

M5000

As part of the "Big Bang" network extension project, the Metrolink fleet is being expanded with the introduction of new Flexity Swift high-floor trams, built by Bombardier Transportation.

In April 2007 eight Flexity Swift LRVs were ordered, designated 'M5000', similar to the K5000 series used in the German cities of Cologne and Bonn, and similar to the low-floor models used by London's Tramlink. This initial order was quickly followed by additional orders for phase 3A and eventually a large order for phase 3B with a total of 62 trams on order. In October 2011 it was announced that an order further 12 'M5000' had been placed to enable some of the T68 vehicles to taken out of service, taking the current total order to 74. TfGM

As of the 1st of November 2011, 43 M5000 trams have been delivered[31]. Each tram is 28.4m long, and has 52 standard seats with a further 8 'perch' seats.

SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle)

Metrolink has one SPV and it is the original dating from 1991. Normally it can be seen shunting Queens Road Depot but can occasionally be seen in the Timperley Turnback siding on the Altrincham line. In 2009 it was repainted into an all yellow livery (the second livery for the car after its Metrolink White Livery) and numbered 1027 (the T68's fleet ending in 1026) and its sole wagon numbered 1028. The vehicle is passed for Eccles Running.

Boeing LRV

In 2001, with the upcoming Commonwealth Games to be held in Manchester, Metrolink decided that it would need an immediate enhancement in capacity and investigated purchasing a number of Boeing LRVs from Muni Metro in San Francisco.[32] Two vehicles were initially purchased for proving, with one sent to the Railway Inspectorate at Derby for safety testing, and the other direct to Metrolink for compatability tests,[33]But it derailed while on a test run to Eccles and was duped in Queens Road. with a further twelve stored pending sale. Eventually it transpired that the cost of making these vehicles suitable for use in the UK was too great for what was intended as a relatively short term measure, and the sale of the remaining vehicles was not taken forward. The vehicle at Metrolink's Queen's Road depot was eventually scrapped in 2007; the one at Derby remains.[34]

Future

A route map of the current Metrolink lines, lines under construction and possible future lines

Phase 3

Phase 3 is an ambitious expansion programme that will see trams running to Oldham, Rochdale, Ashton-under-Lyne, Wythenshawe and Manchester Airport.[35] It has been dubbed the "Big Bang" on account of the size of the planned extensions.[36]

Expansion of the Metrolink network has been promoted since the 1980s, but proposals have had mixed fortunes. In 2000, a £500 million expansion of Metrolink was announced by the Government, promising extensions to Oldham, Rochdale, Ashton-under-Lyne, Wythenshawe and Manchester Airport.[37] These plans were later cancelled due to increasing costs.[38]

Phase 3 was eventually split into two more phases due to funding constraints, known as Phase 3a and Phase 3b. In December 2004 the government announced that £520 million would be authorised for Phase 3a. Phase 3a was given the go-ahead by the Department for Transport in July 2006, with a £300m funding gap expected to be met by a loan.[39] Funding for Phase 3b was tied in with the Greater Manchester Transport Innovation Fund; following the rejection of congestion charging in Manchester in a 2008 referendum, councils grouped together and agreed a way to raise the capital through loans, council tax rises and the government releasing future funding.[40]

At a meeting of AGMA (the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities), 12 May 2009, cross-party agreement was reached between representatives of all ten Greater Manchester authorities for an increase in Council Tax to cover a number of transport improvements.[41] The list of 10 schemes costing £1.4 billion includes some road and bus improvements but crucially for Metrolink fills the gap in funding left by the shortfall of the "3a" scheme.

The money is to be found by a combination of an increase in council tax (by approx £2 per year per council tax payer), contributions from Manchester Airport, increased revenue from passenger journeys and the early release of some central government money, previously earmarked for transport improvements in the conurbation.[42] The revived project was presented by the leader of Manchester City Council Sir Richard Leese as "a new plan" which had been drawn up after the failure of the Transport Innovation Fund referendum.[43]


Summary of Metrolink Phase 3 extension plans
East Manchester Line South Manchester Line Oldham & Rochdale Line Manchester Airport Line
Metrolink phase3 east manchester.png Metrolink phase south manchester line.png Metrolink phase3 rochdale.png Metrolink phase south manchester line.png

Phase 3a:

  • Construction of the line as far as Droylsden

Phase 3b:

  • Extension to Ashton-under-Lyne

Phase 3a:

  • Construction of the line as far as St Werburgh's Road (opened July 2011)

Phase 3b:

  • Extension to East Didsbury

Phase 3a:

  • Conversion of part of the Oldham Loop line Victoria - Rochdale

Phase 3b:

  • Re-route line through Oldham town centre
  • Extension into Rochdale Town Centre

Phase 3a

  • Construction of the line as far as St Werburgh's Road (complete)

Phase 3b:

East Manchester Line

(Summer 2012 — Summer 2013 )

South Manchester Line

(July 2011 — 2013)

Oldham & Rochdale Line

(July 2011 — 2014)

Manchester Airport Line

(July 2011 — 2016)

  1. ^ a b c Acceleration to late 2011 to coincide with football season under consideration


(#) - Station planned to close


(#) - temporary station to be built at former railway station until 2014, new street level station interchange opens in Spring 2014

(#) - New extended station will be built at existing site with additional platforms

Phase 3a

Phase 3a will take over the existing heavy rail Oldham Loop Line to Oldham and Rochdale, and extensions to Droylsden and to St Werburgh's Road in Chorlton-cum-Hardy.[35]

Environmental surveys began in April 2008[44] and continued until the autumn. Several companies were short-listed to build the extensions[44] with the M-Pact Thales consortium, made up of Thales, Laing O'Rourke and GrantRail, being eventually picked[45] in spring 2008. The project's final cost was calculated at £575 million and was signed off in May 2008.[45] Construction started in 2009[46] and the new lines becoming operational in 2011–12. The first new line to open was the South Manchester line to St Werburgh's Road, which opened on 7 July 2011[12]. Metrolink have announced trams will be running tests along the East Manchester Line from mid-July 2011, as far as Velopark. As of July 2011, all stations to this point are at a more advanced stage than those further along the route. There is speculation that Metrolink could run the line this far, with Velopark as a terminus, while the remainder of the line to Droylsden continues to be built.

Phase 3b

Diagram of 3b network extensions

Phase 3b will divert the Phase 3a Rochdale line into Oldham and Rochdale town centres, and extend the Droylsden line to Ashton-under-Lyne and the St Werburgh's Road line to East Didsbury and Manchester Airport.[35]

Phase 3b forms part of Greater Manchester's integrated transport strategy, which recommends a wide-ranging package of transport investment and traffic management measures. In July 2007 GMPTE and the Association of Greater Manchester Local Authorities (AGMA) submitted a bid to the Government's Transport Innovation Fund to secure the funding for this package which would have guaranteed the extensions to these destinations. The bid was put to a referendum and rejected by the residents of Greater Manchester. Following on from this, AGMA agreed a package to raise the capital needed for the extensions and work began in late 2009.

Two further Metrolink extensions were included in the 2007 GMPTE plans, serving Stockport and the Trafford Centre. The Trafford line reappeared in 2010 plans now extended to new leisure and shipping developments at Port Salford. The Trafford line would continue from Pomona viaduct on the Eccles line, which has been built with the expansion in mind, and will have stops serving the Manchester United home ground at Old Trafford, the Imperial War Museum North, The Trafford Centre and Salford Reds.[47] These extensions are awaiting funding from private sector sources. Proposals to extend the East Didsbury line to Stockport town centre have not been approved by the Department for Transport and would therefore require ministerial approval.

Concerns were raised in the original Phase 3 proposals regarding the continued reliance on a single route through the city centre, which could have become a bottleneck when the new extensions opened, with six or seven routes running over the same track. GMPTE has reacted to this by including an additional line, probably along Cross Street between Deansgate-Castlefield and Victoria with stops at the Manchester Town Hall and Arndale Shopping Centre. There will be a Bus Rapid Transit route developed linking the Metrolink service in the centre of Manchester with Leigh and Salford that will not be reached by the Phase 3b extensions.

The full proposal for the Metrolink extensions, including the additional city centre crossing and Trafford Park lines, and linking with new Bus Rapid Transit routes, would take the total cost of Phase 3 to an estimated £1.2 billion, requiring revenue from the government and local council taxes.[48] AGMA commissioned a public referendum on the plans, including the congestion charge, and this concluded on 11 December 2008. Each borough representative agreed to vote in accordance with the public vote of their residents, with a minimum 7 to 3 majority of boroughs being required for the TIF proposal to proceed. 79% of the votes were cast against the plans.[49]

The network including all immediately planned proposed expansions would increase in size from 37 kilometres (23.0 mi) with 37 stops to 97.3 kilometres (60.5 mi) with at least 105 stops, and carrying 70 million passengers per year.[50][51]

Project Length New trams required
Extension spur from Harbour City to Mediacity funded jointly by Peel Holdings and North West Development Agency, service to run between Cornbrook and Mediacity every 12 minutes 0.4 km (0.25 mi) 4
Additional route across Manchester city centre between Deansgate-Castlefield and Victoria 2 km (1.2 mi) Not yet known
Conversion of existing railway from Victoria to Oldham and Rochdale (plus some street running) 25 km (16 mi) 14
Extension to Manchester Airport 14.5 km (9.0 mi) 12
Extension to Ashton-under-Lyne 10.2 km (6.3 mi) 10
Extension to East Didsbury 7.2 km (4.5 mi) 10

Further projects

The Metrolink expansion proposals still not programmed following this announcement are:

  • The Trafford Park/Trafford Centre line (dependent on private sector funding)[52]
  • The full extension of the Didsbury line into Stockport Town centre.
  • The completion of the Manchester Airport loop (dependent on private sector funding)

In addition, feasibility work is continuing on possible further Metrolink expansions beyond the Phase 3 network:

  • Conversion of the Marple rail service to tram-train or Metrolink operation (dependent on funding from rail operation budgets)[52]
  • Conversion of the Manchester-Atherton-Wigan line to tram-train or Metrolink operation.[52]
  • Conversion of the Manchester-Bolton line to tram-train operation.[52]
  • Possible linkages between Metrolink and the East Lancashire Railway[53]
  • Tram-train usage on the Mid-Cheshire line. There have been various proposals relating to this but most suggest the tram-train would be additional to the current heavy rail service. [54][55][56]

A 2001 official document called the Greater Manchester Strategic Rail Study by the Department for Transport,[57] also included several other potential routes that could be considered for potential Tram-Train or light rail working. This included an indicative route through inner South Manchester, which although drawn approximately on the reports map [58] as heading down Kingsway, a more likely, if technically difficult route, would be the Oxford Road-Wilmslow Road corridor. This route has also been raised as a potential Bus Rapid Transit route[59] where work is currently underway to restrict part of the route to buses only.[60] Princess Parkway was also considered at one point for the South Manchester (to Airport) route.[61]

Criticism

Metrolink has been criticised for its concessionary fares policy, in particular for the student fare which does not extend to students over 19 years old[62] (A National Railcard for 16-25s and full-time students over 25 is on sale for rail journeys [63] but is not valid on non National Rail journeys outside London such as airport express branded services, Eurostar and other light rail networks including Metrolink apart from through journeys from the National Rail network.) Metrolink is also unpopular with cyclists as bicycles are prohibited, unlike on heavy rail, and even folding bicycles must be fully covered. Metrolink provides secure storage for cycles at every stop and a review into risks, costs and attitudes to carrying cycles on trams found against any change in policy beyond rewording the description to allow soft cases for folding bicycles.[64]

GMPTE has invested a lot of money converting popular heavy rail lines to light rail, which has attracted criticism.[65][66] Critics have remarked that while trams may run more frequently than heavy rail services, they are much smaller, meaning that there is actually less capacity on the Altrincham and Bury lines than in the 1980s.[65] They also point out that all trams call at every station, meaning that they are slower at reaching Manchester than some of the 1980s train services.[65]

In their defence to the criticism GMPTE (now TfGM) claimed by 2006 the phase 1 lines were carrying 15 million passengers per year compared to 7 million per annum before conversion[67]. However, it should be noted that the 15 million quoted includes passengers travelling within the city centre, in particular providing a well utilised link between Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria stations, (one of the main reasons for the introduction of Metrolink) which is an additional service that Metrolink provides compared to the previous heavy rail service. It should also be noted that rail passenger figures for PTE areas are estimates and have there never been accurate figures since PTEs were formed due to the introduction of multi-modal tickets.[68]

The conversion of the Altrincham line has meant that trains from Knutsford, Northwich and Chester must take a longer route to Manchester through Stockport. In December 2008, some peak-time services had to be cut back further by terminating at Stockport, due to a shortage of paths through Stockport,[69] which resurfaced criticism about conversion of the Altrincham line.[66]

See also

References

  1. ^ "LRTA World Systems List". Light Rail Transit Association. http://www.lrta.org/world/worldind.html. Retrieved 31 July 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Transport chiefs ‘lining up trams to Trafford Centre". menmedia.co.uk. 29 August 2010. http://menmedia.co.uk/manchestereveningnews/news/transport/s/1315389_transport_chiefs_lining_up_trams_to_trafford_centre. Retrieved 10 October 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c "RATP buys Manchester Metrolink operator". Railway Gazette International. 2 August 2011. http://www.railwaygazette.com/nc/news/single-view/view/ratp-buys-manchester-metrolink-operator.html. 
  4. ^ Tony Williams LRTA Manchester Area Officer (30 December 2009). "Manchester Metrolink — Vehicles Facts & Figures". Lrta.org. http://www.lrta.org/Manchester/vehfact.html. Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
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Further reading

  • Holt, David (1992). Manchester Metrolink. UK light rail systems; no. 1. Sheffield: Platform 5. p. 96. ISBN 1-872524-36-2. 

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