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Light Rail for better public transport
9 December 2003: Altrincham Interchange — a major remodelling is being planned
26 November 2003: Shudehill Interchange, Station Upgrade Works
24th November 2003: Frozen overhead lines cause Metrolink delays
18 November 2003: Second Depot, Tram News
22 September 2003: Metrolink Phase 3 — final bids submitted to GMPTE
12 September 2003: Clamp down on fare dodgers
11 September 2003: Delays as fault hits tram fleet
31 August 2003: Cannon Street closed.
2 August 2003: New Look for Metrolink Trams
1 August 2003: Piccadilly Cross–over, Victoria Station Roof problem
12 May 2003: Victoria Station — Metrolink Service Suspension
28 April 2003: Transport Minister marks Shudehill stop opening
09 April 2003: East Didsbury and Stockport Line progress
31 March 2003: Shudehill Interchange
26 February 2003: Ladywell park–and–ride succeeds
24 February 2003: Metroshuttle bus services off to a good start
16 February 2003: Single Contract Update 2
21 January 2003: Oldham and Rochdale Line — Closure for conversion approved
06 January 2003: Single Contract Update
At their September meeting the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority released GBP50,000 funding for a major feasibility study of a possible multimillion pound upgrade for Altrincham Interchange.
GMPTE officers propose to bring together all those involved in the operation of the Interchange. The four organisations concerned are GMPTE, Network Rail, First North Western and Serco Metrolink. The feasibility study will also involve Trafford MBC and other stake holders within the town.
Altrincham Interchange opened in the mid 1970s as a combined bus and rail interchange. Since then the bus industry has been deregulated, Metrolink has replaced the electric trains to Manchester and there have been major changes to the rail industry.
Refurbishments have been done over the years, sometimes however, the improvements have occurred in a piecemeal fashion.
On Tuesday the 2nd December 2003 GMPTE launched a public consultation on the development of plans for a major upgrade. The scheme will transform Altrincham Interchange into a first class integrated transport facility.
A consultation leaflet is being delivered to thousands of businesses and residents in Altrincham town centre and will be more widely available at outlets throughout Trafford — including the Interchange. A series of drop–in meetings will provide the opportunity for members of the public to speak to GMPTE Officers about the scheme.
GMPTA and GMPTE want to make sure that everyone with an interest — public transport users, local residents and businesses — all get to have their say at the very start of the process so they can tell us what kind of improvements they would like to be included in the scheme.
As well as including a general survey, the consultation leaflet is asking people to consider issues such as: improved pedestrian access to the Interchange from the town centre; the role of the present concrete overhead walkway; the opportunity to create a 'town square' fronting the Interchange, incorporating the historic clock tower; improving passenger facilities such as toilets, shops and information, along with the general appearance and maintenance of the Interchange; and opportunities for public art.
Work has now started on the bus station and car park part of the Interchange. The tram stop opened on 31 March 2003. Construction should take about eighteen months and the full Interchange open during 2005.
Work to build a new stairway to the Manchester bound platform is underway. The tram stopping point has been moved to allow this work. The station’s old Manchester bound platform stairway has been closed. Platform access is by a new pedestrian ramp, part temporary and part final. The TVMs remain in the old Booking Office lobby.
The stairs from the Manchester bound platform have been opened up and a new access to the pavement provided at the top. The former footbridge has been removed. Two TVMs remain in the former booking office lobby for the present. The Altrincham bound platform is being renewed, trams are presently stopping at the south end beyond the usual position.
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 under construction.
Widespread service disruptions were caused by a heavy accumulation of ice on certain parts of the the overhead line electrification, this cut off the electricity supply to the trams. Many passengers were stranded at crowded stops when rush–hour trams could not run properly.
It was the first time this has happened since Metrolink started running in 1992.
Metrolink received a weather warning and sent out a tram to break up ice on overhead lines before the start of service at 6am. Unfortunately as soon as the tram had passed, ice was reforming immediately and the lines were freezing behind it.
Manchester weathermen said a hoar frost may have been responsible for Metrolink’s problems. It was very cold for November, temperatures dipped quite sharply to -4°C. There was a heavy hoar frost, which forms from frozen dew.
If similar weather conditions are forecast Metrolink will have to run an empty tram throughout the night to prevent the same thing happening.
GMPTE has now acquired all the properties for the proposed Second Depot at Old Trafford. Site clearance work will start after Christmas.
1007 has been fitted with an automatic announcement system.
1014 now carries the name christie’s.
1022 is back in service following its mid–life refurbishment.
On the 22nd September 2003 the two short–listed consortia, Greater Manchester Tramways Ltd and Manchester Tram Company, submitted their Best and Final Offers to GMPTE for the Metrolink ‘single contract’ extensions. See News 19 December 2002: Metrolink shortlist down to two for details of the consortia.
The bids are to design, build, operate and maintain the extensions and take over the operation of the existing Metrolink lines to Bury, Altrincham and Eccles.
The Rochdale and Oldham, Ashton–under–Lyne and South Manchester and Manchester Airport extension bids have fully committed and underwritten funding.
Tender prices for extensions to East Didsbury and Stockport and The Lowry were also requested. Further Government support for these two extensions may be sought.
The Trafford Centre extension may be included in the contract, subject to private sector funding.
GMPTE’s Metrolink project team now has a great deal of work to do in evaluating all the proposals in detail and deciding which bid offers the best value for money.
The chosen consortium is expected to be announced by Spring 2004.
When completed, the Metrolink network will more than double in size from 39 km to 95 km. It is expected to carry around 40 — 45 million passengers a year and boost Greater Manchester’s economy by an estimated GBP170 million a year.
Managers of the Metrolink system are now sending 240 fare dodgers to court every week. They have increased the number from 50 per week as part of a series of measures to stop travellers trying to use trams without paying. Serco began using Bury magistrates in May — taking advantage of the court’s extra capacity.
Caught without a proper ticket, fare dodgers who refuse to pay the GBP20 penalty fare, usually have to pay around GBP120.
Serco Metrolink have increased the number of inspectors from nine to forty. Inspectors usually work in teams of eight or more and check stations where research has shown there is a lot of fare–dodging, but also carry out spot checks on random trams.
The inspectors have hand–held devices enabling passenger details to be checked against the electoral roll on the spot. Names and addresses are established in three seconds, instead of having to make checks by phone.
As a result of the clampdown — most passengers saw no fare increase at all this year — except for the ones who thought they could travel for free.
During routine maintenance on one of Metrolink’s original trams, engineers discovered that water had got into a steel pipe which carries wiring under the vehicle. A short circuit here would halt the tram — so all 26 of these trams were checked.
Ten vehicles were found to be affected and temporarily withdrawn from service. The engineers have re–routed the wiring on the affected vehicles. Six of them were done overnight, all will be back in service tomorrow. The piping had not corroded, the problem may have been a manufacturing fault.
Bus services which previously used Cannon Street now depart from different city centre stops, including some services from the new Exchange Bus Station (formerly Salford City’s Victoria Bus Station) next to Victoria Bridge.
These arrangements are expected to be in place for around 18 months until the new transport Interchange at Shudehill opens. Most buses which used the Cannon Street facilities will eventually use the new Interchange.
Metrolink has been running for almost twelve years. A two year GBP2m mid–life refurbishment package has been developed to maintain Metrolink’s high standards. The programme will include:
Tram 1014 has been painted in the new livery, which is on trial, feedback from the public is sought before a final decision on the details is made.
1014 rolled out on Wednesday 16th July when it was — for a time — named Margaret Richardson, after a winner of the Metrolink Quiz on BBC GMR local radio station.
Piccadilly Station — The scissors cross–over on the west side of London Road has been out of use for some months. Services are now running into the arrival platform. Without passengers the trams again use the reversing sidings in the undercroft. All trams leave from the departure platform.
Part of the Victoria Station roof, which dates from 1904 and was not renewed in 2002, 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.
Following the fall of glass from roof, in the early hours of Friday 09 May 2003, the Metrolink service through Victoria Station was suspended. Trams operated from Bury to Crumpsall. There was a replacement bus service from Crumpsall to Woodlands Road, Victoria and Piccadilly Gardens. Altrincham and Eccles line trams operated to Piccadilly Station.
Temporary repairs over the weekend — including netting to stop any more glass falling — allowed Metrolink services to return on Monday 12 May 2003.
Transport Minister John Spellar MP formally opened the new GBP1.5 million Metrolink stop at Shudehill on Friday 25th April. He also viewed the site of the new Shudehill Interchange.
The Metrolink stop was funded by Manchester City Council and will link to the GBP22 million Interchange, which is being developed by GMPTE with funding from Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority, Manchester City Council, Richardson Developments and the European Union.
The new Interchange will provide a high quality facility for passengers travelling to and from the North and West of the conurbation — complementing existing facilities at Piccadilly and Piccadilly Gardens, which serve areas to the South and East.
Members of GMPTA’s Policy Committee have unanimously welcomed a progress report confirming that Stockport Metrolink extension plans are well underway.
GMPTE Officers indicated that preparation of the relevant documentation is now well advanced and that they anticipate making a Transport and Works Act Order application next month.
These Transport and Works Act powers will be for the new route from East Didsbury to Stockport. GMPTE already has powers for the line to East Didsbury.
A public inquiry will probably be held later on in the year. This would give the town’s residents, businesses and anyone with an interest in the proposed extension, a chance to put their views across.
GMPTE expect to obtain both powers and funding enabling this line to be constructed as part of Phase 3.
The Shudehill tram stop in Manchester city centre has opened. It is the first stage of the full bus and tram Interchange which is aimed at easing traffic congestion and public access to the city.
Construction of the tram stop was completed in November 2002. Legal difficulties prevented it opening before today.
The remainder of the bus/tram Interchange is surrounded by construction site fencing. It is scheduled for completion in 2004.
When fully open the Interchange will replace Cannon Street Bus Station and include 777 car parking spaces.
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.
Metrolink’s park–and–ride site at Ladywell on the Eccles line attracted little interest from car drivers when it opened 18 months ago. Now there are days when it is full, thanks to art and football.
The free 450–space car park, off Eccles New Road in Eccles, has a tall fence, CCTV cameras, and 24–hour security staff. Although almost empty for a start, now word has got round it is well used — particularly when United are at home.
Lowry Arts Centre visitors are leaving their cars and catching the tram to Harbour City, four stops down the line. Football fans are riding to Exchange Quays, a 10 minute walk from the Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium.
Ladywell indicates that park–and–ride could be a success as Metrolink is extended. Agreements are already in place for facilities at Hollinwood and Ashton West. Studies are taking place for new car parks at Buckley Wells, Crumpsall, Bowker Vale, Besses o’ th’ Barn, Whitefield and Navigation Road.
The strikingly branded Metroshuttle bus services, launched last September, have been an early hit with passengers. They are free, fully accessible and frequent. The routes link the city’s rail stations, car parks and key public transport nodes with the main retail, commercial, leisure and cultural destinations. A weekly average of 21,000 passengers are using the two routes. It is estimated that well over 1 million passenger journeys will have been made in Metroshuttle’s first year of operation.
The ‘orange’ route 1 — running about every 5 minutes — links Piccadilly Rail Station with the commercial core of the city, is carrying substantially more passengers than its forerunner ‘Centreline’.
The ‘green’ route 2 — running every 10 minutes — links Victoria, Oxford Road and Deansgate Rail Stations has also been very well used in its first few months of operation.
An additional route is planned for introduction in 2004 to provide a connection to Salford Central Rail Station and the new Spinningfields business development area.
For more detail see News 26 September 2002: Metroshuttle — free city–centre bus network launched in Manchester
Following Government approval for Phase 3 funding and the announcement of the two preferred bidders, GMPTE are now on a 3 stage programme:
Details of the programme of works are still under discussion. Construction will take five or six years to complete.
The new Metrolink stop at Shudehill is scheduled to open early in 2003. The rest of the Manchester Transport Interchange is scheduled for completion in 2004.
Along the Ashton Canal Corridor substantial advance works are complete on the section between Holt Town and the City of Manchester Stadium. A tunnel underpass under Alan Turing Way and Gibbon Street in the Bradford area of East Manchester is due to be completed in March 2003. The new classrooms currently being built at St.Mary’s School in Droylsden will be ready for Summer 2003. This will make the space available for the Metrolink stop.
The new stops at Monsall, South Chadderton, Freehold and Newbold on the Oldham and Rochdale line have been granted outline planning permission. All eight planned stops on the Trafford Park and Trafford Centre Line also the six stops from St Werburgh’s Road to East Didsbury have been approved.
Later this year GMPTE will submit a Transport and Works Act Application to obtain powers for the extension from East Didsbury to Stockport. GMPTE expect to obtain both powers and funding enabling this line will be constructed as part of Phase 3.
Last December the Government agreed GBP20.246 million funding for the North Manchester Business Park Transport Gateway.
This will provide:
For more information see News 07 February 2002: New East Manchester Interchange — revised plans endorsed
Transport Minister, John Spellar, has unconditionally granted consent for the closure of the Oldham loop line, allowing it to be converted from a heavy rail line to Metrolink. This follows the Minister’s careful consideration of GMPTE’s application and a report by the Rail Passenger Committee (RPC) for the North West.
The RPC hearing about these closure proposals was held last September in Oldham. A large number of the objections concerned the closure of Dean Lane Station. Having heard the issues raised by objectors GMPTE decided to retain Dean Lane and convert it to a Metrolink stop.
The Minister agreed to the closure of Oldham Werneth and Oldham Mumps stations, satisfied that Metrolink will provide a more convenient and frequent service. He also consented to the closure of part of the network at Dean Lane and the closure of the network between Milnrow and Rochdale, without setting any conditions.
Mr Spellar also welcomed GMPTE’s commitment to provide as wide a range of through and inter–modal ticketing opportunities as possible. This should prevent the loss of existing through ticketing opportunities.
Metrolink will bring a step improvement in public transport along the Oldham and Rochdale corridor. GMPTE accepts that some disruption is inevitable during conversion. They will be organising alternative bus services and endeavouring to minimise bus journey times.
An independent regulator will be appointed under the Metrolink Extension Single Contract. If the Passenger Transport Authority decides that a large rise in fares is to cover the operators’ inefficiencies — then that increase can be referred to an independent regulator
Seventy new trams are likely to be to be ordered at the end of the year. They are expected to cost around GBP1.5m each and could be built anywhere in the world — Britain, France or even Japan. These new trams will end the regular overcrowding caused by having too few trams to cope with demand.
A planning application for the Metrolink extension to Stockport will now be made in the next few weeks. Talks will shortly be held with Peel Holdings, Trafford Centre owners, about finding another £80m for a spur through Trafford Park to the centre.
Two consortia have been shortlisted. See News 19 December 2002: Metrolink shortlist down to two. The winning consortium will be chosen this autumn. They will take over the existing network, build the new lines and operate the network for 25 years. Each consortium has a provisional timetable for the order in which new lines will be built but they are completely different. It will be almost 12 months before the sequence is revealed.
The new depot, near the Old Trafford Metrolink stop, will be the first start. This will ensure there is somewhere to store and test the new trams as they arrive. The extended network is due to be complete by 2010 and will carry around 50m passengers a year.
News 2003: top of page>
This page was written by Tony Williams, Manchester Area Officer, Light Rail Transit Association. Contact email@example.com if you have any comments, ideas or suggestions about these pages.