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Manchester Metrolink News 2005

12 December 2005: Metrolink upgrade, shortlisted companies invited to make formal bids
28 November 2005: Central Park Gateway Interchange
31 October 2005: Metrolink fare dodgers beware!
21 October 2005: Secretary of State for Transport in Manchester
26 September 2005: Metroshuttle, free city–centre bus network extended
3 September 2005: Cornbrook opens as a stop
29 August 2005: Central Park Metrolink bridge
28 July 2005: Eastern option agreed for South Manchester and Airport Line
15 July 2005: Crumpsall New Car Park Open
30 June 2005: Metrolink upgrade funding agreed
22 June 2005: Wythenshawe Loop — western part may be dropped
15 June 2005: Besses o’ th’ Barn — Accessibility improvement works completed
14 May 2005: Central Park Metrolink stop
15 April 2005: Whitefield new Park and Ride
8 April 2005: Integrated Transport Strategy
March (2) 2005: Altrincham Interchange
March (1) 2005: Abraham Moss, proposed stop, plans unveiled
4 February 2005: Metrolink a GBP102 million improvements and renewals programme
28 January 2005: Metrolink upgrade — a bid for cash is being assembled
19 January 2005: Possible Tram–Train study


12 December 2005: Metrolink upgrade, shortlisted companies invited to make formal bids

Four companies have been selected to bid for the provision of eight new trams. These will help to tackle overcrowding in peak periods and improve the reliability and performance of services.

Five companies have been selected to bid for the replacement of track on the Bury — Altrincham line. Some existing track is more than fifty years old, it had decades of use by trains before the lines were converted to Metrolink in 1992. The new track will provide passengers with a much smoother ride.

Nine companies have been selected to bid for two contracts, one to operate and maintain the trams and the other to maintain the track and carry out improvement work at stops and stations. Serco, who currently operate Metrolink on behalf of GMPTE, has been shortlisted to submit bids for both contracts.

Other firms applying to operate and maintain the trams are First Manchester, Keolis, Stagecoach and Transdev. Competitors for the second contract are Carillion, Edmund Nuttall, First and Mowlem.

Alstom Transport, AnsaldoBreda SpA — Firema Trasporti SpA, Bombardier Transportation UK and Siemens Transportation Systems will bid for the contract to supply new trams.

AMEC SPIE Rail (UK) Ltd, Balfour Beatty Rail Projects Limited, Carillion Construction Limited, First Engineering Limited and Mowlem plc will bid for the contract to replace worn–out track.

On 30 June 2005 the Department for Transport (DfT) agreed to release GBP58 million towards this GBP102 million Metrolink upgrade, GMPTE will fund the other GBP44 million.

It is anticipated that the successful bidders will be appointed by Spring 2006 and that the track will be in place by Autumn 2007. The new trams are expected to begin operating from Autumn 2008.

28 November 2005: Central Park Gateway Interchange

On the 10th November, The Lord Mayor of Manchester, Councillor Mohammed Afzal Khan, opened the Interchange by being the first person to be driven down The Gateway. This new road runs from from Oldham Road under the railway and future Metrolink lines to Northampton Road in the heart of Central Park phase one.

On the 25th November, the new “twisting fin” bridge was in its final position and construction work was nearing completion. Located on the west side of Thorp Road, it will carry Metrolink over the railway line.

31 October 2005: Metrolink fare dodgers beware!

A major new system to tackle fare evasion begins. The previous on–the–spot charge of GBP10 where no details were kept has been replaced by an escalating standard fare; passengers will be required to prove their identity, which will be recorded.

Over 3 years from 2002 to 2005 GMPTE and Serco Metrolink have implemented a number of initiatives which have halved fare evasion. Detected fare evasion is now approximately 3%, probably equating to an actual level of just under 6%, equivalent to approximately GBP1.3m lost revenue per annum.

The Escalated Standard Fare is designed to be fairer on the passenger who has made a genuine mistake, while tackling the persistent fare evader who travels with a GBP10 note at the ready.

The Standard Fare will be:–
1st Offence — GBP10 on the spot, GBP15.00 within 21 days
2nd Offence — GBP20 on the spot, GBP30 within 21 days
3rd Offence — GBP40 on the spot, GBP60 within 21 days
4th Offence — GBP80 on the spot, or prosecution
Anyone who fails to pay the standard fare within the specified time will also be liable for prosecution.

21 October 2005: Secretary of State for Transport in Manchester

The Secretary of State for Transport, Alistair Darling, visited Manchester to discuss the city region’s transport vision for the next 15 years. He also experienced key features of the city’s transport system, including Metrolink, Piccadilly Rail Station and the free city centre Metroshuttle bus network.

The Greater Manchester Leaders — Lord Peter Smith, Leader of the AGMA and Councillor Roger Jones, Chair of GMPTA — explained their vision for the growth of the city region’s economy and the vital role which a high quality, integrated local transport network would play in achieving this.

They briefed the Secretary of State on the key components of the Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Strategy; setting out their priorities for the first five years including a major focus on four key transport corridors — the future Metrolink extensions and the Leigh–Salford–Manchester Busway .

Councillor Roger Jones said, “I’m pleased that the Secretary of State today committed himself to working with us in bringing these plans to fruition and in helping us to deliver our vision for public transport across Greater Manchester. We must provide a real alternative for car users and vital transport links for those without the choice. I feel we have made real progress today and I am confident that the dialogue we have started will continue.”

26 September 2005: Metroshuttle, free city–centre bus network extended

Metroshuttle Routes 1 (orange) and 2 (green) were modified from 25 September.

Metroshuttle Route 3 (purple) opened on 26 September. It links Piccadilly rail station to Oxford Street, Peter Street, the newly developed Spinningfields area, Salford Central rail station, Albert Square and Princess Street. Operating Monday to Saturday from 07:00 to 19:00 it runs every 10 minutes.

Metroshuttle is operated with low–floor easy access buses by First Manchester and funded by Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority, Manchester City Council, NCP Manchester and Allied London Properties. Last year it carried nearly 1.4 million passenger journeys.

3 September 2005: Cornbrook opens as a stop

Following GBP250,00 worth of improvements Cornbrook Metrolink stop has opened at street level.

Cornbrook Road and its footpath have been upgraded. Brickwork on the bridges and viaduct has been cleaned. Improved boundary fences, new lighting, CCTV cameras and signage have been provided.

Tickets to Cornbrook can now be purchased from the TVMs.

29 August 2005: Central Park Metrolink bridge

Overnight on 27/28 August the new bridge, which will carry Metrolink tracks between Central Park and Dean Lane stops, has been swung almost into place across the Manchester to Rochdale railway line. This was done while the railway was closed.

The bridge will be moved the last metre into its permanent position and fixed in place in the next few weeks. There are no further plans to close the railway line while this takes place.

28 July 2005: Eastern option agreed for South Manchester and Airport Line

At the GMPTA meeting on 28 July it was agreed to go ahead with the Eastern section of the Loop through Wythenshawe to Manchester Airport. Members also asked GMPTE Officers to retain and protect powers for the Western loop for possible future development. Improving transport links to Wythenshawe Hospital also remains a high priority.

The South Manchester and Airport Line was planned to provide a new high–capacity, high quality public transport corridor for the Western side of South Manchester. Originally the route was along the western side of the loop. The eastern route via Wythenshawe town centre was added following further investigation and public consultation by the GMPTE.

The line was to have been built as part of Metrolink Phase 3. However, it became increasingly clear that the proposed line including the loop was not value for money. A working group of GMPTA/E, Manchester Airport and Manchester City Council officers was set up to review the scheme.

The full range of potential public transport solutions including on street bus and various combinations of conventional bus, segregated bus way, tram–train and light rail were reviewed. Alternative primary routes such as Princess Parkway (A5103) were also explored. These options were evaluated using a BCA (benefit–cost appraisal) method recognised by the DfT.

The review, which has been independently verified, concluded that Metrolink is the best solution. It outperforms, by a considerable margin, all other options and is the only solution capable of meeting both capacity and cost benefit requirements.

For Trafford Bar to Roundthorn the existing Metrolink proposal was shown to:–

South of Roundthorn three options were tested.

  1. Existing Proposal — The full loop — there are existing powers to build it.
  2. Eastern Loop — A large part of the existing route — there are existing powers to build it.
  3. Central Line — Based on the existing alignment to Wythenshawe Hospital then new shorter route to the town centre and Airport. New Transport and Works Act Powers would be required.

Existing Proposal

This option would have the highest capital cost with minimal additional benefit. A new 150 metre tunnel under the Airport and a bridge over the M56 Motorway would be required. Davenport Green stop would serve a proposed Major High Amenity Site business park, located in the Green Belt. Access to the site would be by Metrolink and one road from the east. Newall Green stop, although useful to the local area, would be on the edge of the built up area, thus reducing potential passenger numbers. Wythenshawe Hospital stop would have been some 400 metres from the Roundthorn stop.

Eastern Loop

This option is currently the best overall performer, it is estimated to reduce the capital cost by GBP40m plus. It has the lowest risk, also it would allow the remainder of the Wythenshawe Loop to be provided at a later stage.

Central Line

The Central Line has a number of routing options. One was tested giving a capital saving of GBP43m. Further refinement of the route could realise bigger reductions in cost and journey time. As a new route fresh Transport and Works Act powers would have to be obtained. This may necessitate a Public Inquiry, causing significant delay that would, in turn, push costs back up.

Manchester City Council

The Executive meeting on 29th June received a report on the review. They agreed that the Eastern Loop option should be progressed and asked that the powers for the Western half of the Loop be safeguarded for the future.

15 July 2005: Crumpsall New Car Park Open

The new 43 space off road car park at Crumpsall has now opened. About ten spaces are also available in the rearranged existing car park on Station Road.

A new Disability Discrimination Act compliant access ramp from Station Road to the Bury bound platform has also opened.

30 June 2005: Metrolink upgrade funding agreed

The Department for Transport (DfT) has agreed to release GBP58 million towards the GBP102 million Metrolink upgrade. GBP44 million will be funded by the GMPTE.

This upgrade consists of track replacement — mostly on the Bury line, eight new trams, new ticket machines and other stop improvements.

Further details below in the 4 February 2005 item

The upgrade will now be put out to tender, this should take about a year, with the works done over the next two years.

A DfT spokesperson said the money would be released on condition that the bids to carry out the work did not exceed the GBP102m estimate.

22 June 2005: Wythenshawe Loop — western part may be dropped

The western part of the loop, the original route, from Roundthorn to the Airport including stops at Wythenshawe Hospital, Newall Green and Davenport Green will most likely be dropped from the South Manchester and Airport Line. The loop via Wythenshawe town centre was added following further investigation and public consultation by the GMPTE.

15 June 2005: Besses o’ th’ Barn — Accessibility improvement works completed

Work on a GBP165,000 project to improve access for Metrolink passengers with disabilities at the Besses o’ th’ Barn tram stop on the Bury line is now complete.

The improvements see the provision of six new parking spaces for disabled drivers and also a new Disability Discrimination Act–compliant ramp that will significantly improve access to the platform for passengers with disabilities.

14 May 2005: Central Park Metrolink stop

The new Central Park Metrolink stop is being built. It will be approximately mid way between the Monsall and Dean Lane stops. It is to the north of and at about the same level as the railway line, also on the western side of the new spine road. Oldham Road and the rail line are also at similar levels.

The bridge, under the rail line, for the spine road has already been built. Work is in progress on the road which runs from its junction with Oldham Road diving under the rail line and rising before reaching into the heart of Phase One of Central Park.

A short distance to the east, at about the present position of the Oldham line junction, a new twisting fin concrete bridge is being built alongside the railway line. A central “fin” along the top bears all the weight instead of having the support underneath as most bridges do. The bridge is due to be jacked into place in August 2005.

This new bridge will take the Metrolink tracks over the rail line. They will then go through a disused bridge under Thorp Road and alongside the railway towards Dean Lane.

15 April 2005: Whitefield new Park and Ride

A report to the GMPTA Meeting indicated that the vegetation clearance works have now been completed. Arrangements are being made with United Utilities for the high voltage service diversion, with anticipated completion of these works by the end of May 2005. Funding for these was approved in September 2004.

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, two high specification passenger waiting shelters and a covered walkway from the waiting area to the station platform.

The main construction works will cost GBP1 million. Competitive tenders have already been received. Given the meeting dates for the Authority and its committees, Members were asked to release funding to enable GMPTE Officers to take the scheme forward at an appropriate stage. Subject to satisfactory resolution of all other relevant issues, these works could commence on site in June 2005 and be completed by late summer 2005.

Closure of the existing under used bus station will facilitate commercial development. GMPTE’s Estates function is negotiating the sale of the site.

8 April 2005: Integrated Transport Strategy

Greater Manchester Authorities submitted a new Integrated Transport Strategy (ITS) to Government on 8 April 2005, setting out bold and innovative plans for improving the local transport network.

The ITS demonstrates why Metrolink extensions are the best transport solution for the three proposed corridors. It also shows that they are part of a coherent transport strategy, including improvements to bus and rail services, better facilities for cyclists and pedestrians also local highway improvements.

Department for Transport (DfT) officials recently visited Manchester — the start of a new and constructive dialogue intended to move Manchester’s ITS proposals forward as quickly as possible. Initial discussions focus on the GBP102 million funding bid for a package of essential works for Metrolink phases 1 and 2

March (2) 2005: Altrincham Interchange

The Altrincham Interchange remodelling and new Rochdale Bus station schemes, see News for 30 April 2004: Altrincham Interchange & Rochdale bus station, have been refused Government funding approval.

Glass in the canopies sheltering all platforms at Altrincham had to be removed for safety purposes. Whilst the rail platform canopies have been replaced, platform 1 remains uncovered — leaving waiting Metrolink passengers with little protection from the elements. The open roof continues to give a poor appearance to the area.

GMPTA has agreed that GMPTE officers should investigate providing a shelter for Platform 1 as soon as resources become available.

GMPTA, by working with Trafford Council and other stake holders, are determined to find a way to progress plans for the redevelopment of Altrincham Interchange. These plans centre around improving accessibility, security, passenger comfort and information.

GMPTE Officers are due to report back to the Authority later this year on ways of taking forward the much–needed improvements to public transport waiting facilities in Altrincham town centre.

March (1) 2005: Abraham Moss, proposed stop, plans unveiled

An additional stop has been planned for a number of years. It would be near the Abraham Moss Centre and Crumpsall Library.

GMPTE have recently submitted an outline planning application to Manchester City Council detailing proposals.

Crumpsall residents had the chance to see an exhibition detailing the proposals at the Library from Monday 14 to Friday 18 March. For part of the time GMPTE Officers were on hand to discuss the proposals.

There are no immediate plans to build this stop, however, starting the process now will minimise delays once powers and funding are in place.

4 February 2005: Metrolink a GBP102 million improvements and renewals programme

GMPTA’s 4 February meeting welcomed the news that a funding bid, submitted at the end of January, is being considered as a matter of urgency by the Department for Transport (DfT).

The proposals include:

GMPTE will fund GBP44 million of the works, with the balance of GBP58 million to be funded from the GBP520 million announced by the Secretary of State for Transport on 16 December 2004.

Work is underway on a bold package of integrated transport measures, including light rail, which will be submitted to DfT by the end of March this year.

28 January 2005: Metrolink upgrade — a bid for cash is being assembled

Passengers are suffering delays on Metrolink. Operator Serco has admitted for the first time that it is extremely concerned about the level of service it is offering.

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

On Sunday 26 September 2004 a rubbish truck ran into a tram in the Salford Quays area. The badly damaged tram is being repaired in Crewe and is not expected to be in service until late spring 2005.

Routine maintenance and other incidents can also take trams out of service.

GMPTE had applied, as part of the Phase Three expansion, for around GBP80m to buy extra trams to meet the high demand on the successful Bury and Altrincham lines.

Funding was withdrawn in July 2004. The Get Our Metrolink Back On Track campaign was launched in August 2004. In December the Government announced that the original GBP520m budget for the three extensions was still on the table.

The Secretary of State, Alistair Darling, has clarified that GMPTE can begin to develop proposals for bids for money from the Transport Innovation Fund straight away which, together with the right overall approach, will allow development of a route map for delivery of three and a half Metrolink lines (to Oldham and Rochdale, Ashton–under–Lyne, South Manchester and Manchester Airport and the spur to Didsbury) over time.

He has also announced that the Authority can now submit proposals for the maintenance and renewal of the existing Metrolink system as first call on the GBP520 million

The Secretary of State warns that extra funding for the full, planned expansion would only be forthcoming “if Manchester comes forward with a bold, integrated package to tackle congestion”.

Roger Jones, GMPTA chairman, acknowledged that a congestion charging scheme would have to be considered and consultants would shortly be asked to examine the issue in greater depth. He is opposed to a small–scale central Manchester scheme would inevitably meet strong objections from local councillors. The answer may be a scheme covering the whole area inside the M60 orbital motorway.

19 January 2005: Possible Tram–Train study

The Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP) published a report entitled TRAINS, TRAMS, TRAM/TRAINS novel solutions for regional railways in September 2004.

Andrew Steel attended the conference at which the report was launched. For more information see his article in Tramways & Urban Transit (T&UT) November 2004 and letters in T&UT January 2005.

It has been suggested that Tram–Trains may be able to run from from Northwich to Altrincham, sharing the Mid–Cheshire line with trains, before switching to the Metrolink Altrincham line and travelling into Manchester City Centre. There could be services every 15 minutes - with one train an hour going to Manchester via Stockport and three Tram–Trains going along the Metrolink route.

The name Tram–Train has been used to cover many possibilities from electrically powered vehicles like Metrolink to heavy trams that resemble main line diesel units.

The report authors’ letter says, for technical reasons, heavy trams would be restricted to off street parts of Metrolink. Extension of Metrolink onto the Mid–Cheshire line could involve electrification and track sharing as in the Sunderland extension of Tyne and Wear Metro.

Many questions have to be answered before Tram–Trains could run from the Mid–Cheshire line onto Metrolink.

Vale Royal Borough Council, whose area includes Northwich, is trying to get together a package to commission a feasibility study.

A GMPTE spokesman said it was examining all possible options to improve public transport in the region. The Tram–Train concept is one of the options, research into the overall feasibility of the idea is underway.


News 2005: top of page

This page was written by Tony Williams, Manchester Area Officer, Light Rail Transit Association. Contact manwebm@lrta.org if you have any comments, ideas or suggestions about these pages.