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Manchester Metrolink News 2007

Track Upgrades 2007 page updates and replaces Track Renewals items — other news items below.

5 December 2007: Regional Centre Transport Strategy, Metrolink information
23 November 2007: Oldham and Rochdale line conversion
21 November 2007: Mediacity:UK and Enhanced Salford Quays Service
18 November 2007: Metrolink fare changes
7 November 2007: Demolition work for Droylsden Line
2 August 2007: Metrolink expansion on the way
1 August 2007: Our Future Transport
16 July 2007: Metrolink Operation and Maintenance
22 June 2007: GMPTA Chair re–elected.
29 May 2007: New Metrolink Operator
10 April 2007: Eight new trams on order for Metrolink
3 April 2007: Metrolink Operation and Maintenance
12 January 2007: Bury Interchange escalator reopened
5 January 2007: Altrincham Interchange


5 December 2007: Regional Centre Transport Strategy, Metrolink information

Manchester City Council and the GMPTA issued a comprehensive illustrated 55 page document on 27 November 2007.

A brief summary of the Metrolink information follows:–

GMPTE has started the procurement process for Phase 3A The Invitation to Negotiate documentation was issued in November. Bid submissions deadline is January 2008; with Best And Final Offers to be in by March 2008. Contract signature is provisionally in May 2008.

Key dates for Metrolink Phase 3A Construction
Mediacity:uk: Cornbrook Junction to Mediacity:uk June 2010
South Manchester: Trafford Bar to St. Werburgh’s Rd.June 2010
East Manchester: Piccadilly to DroylsdenMarch 2011
Second Depot (substantial completion)June 2011
Oldham/Rochdale: Oldham Mumps to Rochdale Railway StationJanuary 2012
Dates are subject to Bid Process and the Final Metrolink Phase 3A contract

The TIF bid includes proposals for further Metrolink network extensions:–

These lines will generate a significant increase in trams from the south via Cornbrook; exceeding the current city centre capacity which is between 25 and 30 trams per hour in each direction. A second city crossing is required between Cornbrook and Victoria. It forms a fundamental part of the TIF bid. This new crossing will improve reliability by effectively doubling the capacity through the Regional Centre.

A study of the engineering, financial, planning, development and operational constraints identified a number of route options. These are based around two core alignments through the city centre, Deansgate and Cross Street. The key issues for the two options currently being appraised are:

Chester Road and Deansgate Option

Mount St / Cross St / Corporation St Option

Detailed consultation on the options for the second city crossing will be undertaken in 2008, alongside further appraisal work. This will enable a preferred route to be identified.

23 November 2007: Oldham and Rochdale line conversion

The Design Build Maintain Contract for this line will be arranged so that the Irk Valley Junction to Central Park section is completed first. This can be done with a minimal effect on Network Rail. A Metrolink service from Central Park to Manchester Victoria and beyond may then be started.

Options for the staged conversion of the Oldham Rochdale Line are being investigated. Route closure and temporary bus arrangements will be the subject of a future detailed report to the GMPTA.

Northern Rail are investigating a self contained timetable, for December 2008 onwards, that maintains existing frequencies over the Oldham Loop and between Rochdale and Manchester; yet will allow easy staged termination as the line is handed over for conversion. This is expected to be between Autumn 2009 and Autumn 2010.

21 November 2007: Mediacity:UK and Enhanced Salford Quays Service

More than GBP 19 million is being invested on the new trams and improvements to the Eccles Metrolink line by Salford City Council, Peel Media and the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA). The NWDA approved their GBP 8 million investment on 28 September.

Planning permission for the 360 metre Mediacity:UK spur was granted on 3 October 2007. This will be an extension from the existing line between Broadway and Harbour City to a new stop in the heart of the Mediacity:UK plaza area; it replaces the former Lowry spur.

In order to enable a 6 minute interval service between Cornbrook and the Quays stops, new Metrolink works will provide south/west turn back facilities at Cornbrook.

GMPTE has ordered another four Bombardier FLEXITY Swift trams, in addition to the eight ordered in April 2007. Some of the NWDA funding will contribute towards the purchase.

The extra trams will allow a new 12–minute service between Cornbrook and Mediacity:uk. A 12–minute service will also continue to run between Manchester Piccadilly and Eccles. There will then be a 6–minute interval service between Cornbrook and Harbour City

Work on the Metrolink extension to Mediacity:uk is due to start in 2009 and to be completed in 2010.

18 November 2007: Metrolink fare changes

GMPTE have altered some Metrolink fares. Peak day fares last changed in February 2005, while off–peak fares day fares last changed almost two years ago.

Single and return fares rose by an average of 5.7%, which is less than inflation between February 2005 and August 2007. There will be no increase in child fares and some family tickets will be reduced. Season tickets will be frozen at their current prices until 1 February 2008.

GMPTE is encouraging more people to take advantage of weekly, four–weekly, quarterly or annual season tickets to benefit from discounts.

7 November 2007: Demolition work for Droylsden Line

On Tuesday 23 October work started the demolition of a garage on Linfield Street in Clayton. This is the first of five derelict buildings to be cleared for the new Metrolink line to Droylsden in Tameside.

A pallet yard on Croft Street and an industrial works on Ashton New Road in Clayton together with a wholesale clothing warehouse on Chappletown Street and a commercial vehicle dealers on Longacre Street in Ancoats will also have been demolished by Spring 2008.

2 August 2007: Metrolink expansion on the way

GMPTE has appointed Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) as a delivery partner to help oversee the multi million-pound expansion of the Metrolink network. It will help to ensure that the new Metrolink lines are built on time and on budget.

David Leather, GMPTE’s Chief Executive, said: “We’ll be investing millions of pounds in Metrolink over the next few years. We’re now halfway through a major project to replace nearly 20 miles of track on the Bury and Altrincham lines, and we’ve got eight new trams on order. I’m pleased we’ve been able to appoint a delivery partner to help oversee this investment in the network. We’re also now in a position to begin the process to appoint a major construction company to build the new Metrolink lines.”

Bob Morris, Major Projects Director at PB, said: “We are delighted to be supporting GMPTE in the delivery of a major enhancement of the transport infrastructure that will benefit the Greater Manchester area. Our continually expanding base in Manchester will provide GMPTE with a highly experienced and skilled team who know the region and are sensitive to local issues.”

PB has 10,500 employees across the world. It provides technical expertise in transportation, power, community development, water and the environment. The company has almost 200 staff based in Manchester and will be drawing on experience of working on Metrolink phases 1 and 2, as well as of best practice from projects in Edinburgh, Merseyside and London.

PB is currently managing the £900 million extension of the East London Line and has advised on the design of the £600 million tram network in Edinburgh.

GMPTE has also begun the process of selecting a company to build the new Metrolink lines by publishing a notice in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU). The OJEU notice gives construction companies details about the new lines. Under European Union legislation, all contracts from the public sector, which are valued above a certain level, must be published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

1 August 2007: Our Future Transport

On 27 July 2007 the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA) agreed to submit a bid to the Government’s Transport Innovation Fund (TIF). This would bring a 3 billion pound package of transport funding and the introduction of a road congestion charging system.

Public transport in Greater Manchester would be vastly improved; including an expanded Metrolink network, longer trains on many of the conurbation‘s rail lines and more frequent, high quality bus services. Other schemes including Park and Ride and Yellow School Bus services would be part of the largest and most far–reaching transport investment programme outside London, alongside measures to ensure effective integration across all transport services.

The agreed bid would also involve the introduction of a locally designed congestion charging system to target future congestion problems where they will have maximum impact of the economy and environment, with all charging revenues being retained for funding public transport improvements in Greater Manchester.

16 July 2007: Metrolink Operation and Maintenance

Stagecoach Group plc took over the operation and maintainance on Sunday 15 July. They will run services and also be responsible for maintaining the Metrolink system, including the track and stops.

Stagecoach already operates the Supertram system in Sheffield and has extensive experience of running main line rail services.

Many bus services in south Manchester are also run by Stagecoach.

22 June 2007: GMPTA Chair re–elected.

At the GMPTA annual meeting Councillor Roger Jones was re–elected to serve a seventh consecutive year.

He said: “I’m pleased I’ve been re–elected as the Chair during a year in which the future of our transport system will be determined. If Greater Manchester decides to submit a bid to the government’s Transport Innovation Fund in July, we could see a GBP3 billion investment in public transport over the next few years as well as the introduction of congestion charging. Any bid in July will be the subject of further consultation during 2007/8 and the Authority will be overseeing this, so that we can ensure that local people are able to shape the detailed nature of these innovations.”

29 May 2007: New Metrolink Operator

GMPTE have appointed Stagecoach Group plc to operate Metrolink services for the next decade. The company will also be responsible for maintaining the network, including the track and stops.

Stagecoach already operates the Supertram system in Sheffield and has extensive experience of running main line rail services.

GMPTE, Stagecoach and the existing operator Serco are working together to ensure a smooth transition for employees and customers. This is expected to take place in July.

10 April 2007: Eight new trams on order for Metrolink

GMPTE have signed a 17 million pound deal for eight new FLEXITY Swift trams for Metrolink. These will be built by Canadian transport company Bombardier in partnership with Vossloh Kiepe.

FLEXITY Swift models already operates in several European cities, including Cologne, Bonn, Rotterdam and Stockholm. The Manchester trams will be similar to the K5000 type used in Cologne and Bonn.

They are due to start operating during 2009 as part of the GBP102 million Metrolink upgrade.

In the near future, GMPTE expect to be able to order at least 28 more for the Phase 3a extensions. These are to Oldham and Rochdale, Droylsden in Tameside and Chorlton in South Manchester.

See the Bombardier M5000 page for more information.

3 April 2007: Metrolink Operation and Maintenance

Stagecoach Group Plc have been selected as the preferred bidder to take over the operation and maintenance of Metrolink. GMPTE will now begin the final contract negotiations. Other companies that were bidding for these contracts are noted in the 9 November 2006 news item.

The operating contract will be for the next decade. Network maintenance, including track and stops, will be for at least the next seven years.

Serco, which has run services since 1997, is expected to hand over to Stagecoach within the next three months.

12 January 2007: Bury Interchange escalator reopened

The escalator, from the Metrolink platform to the main interchange level, reopened shortly before Christmas 2006. A GBP110,000 overhaul was jointly funded by Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority (GMPTA) and the tram operator, Serco.

Provided when the Interchange opened in 1980, the old escalator had become increasingly unreliable. A free bus service between Radcliffe and the interchange ran while the escalator was being repaired.

The refurbished escalator’s mechanical parts and control systems were completely renewed. This will uses less energy and be cheaper to maintain. Additionally it will guarantee a more reliable service for Metrolink passengers for at least the next twenty years.

5 January 2007: Altrincham Interchange

The entire Metrolink platform roof covering has been replaced. It was expected that a section would be reinstated in a GBP180,000 scheme. However it has been possible to do the full length at no further cost. The new roofing is made of coated steel with clear panels to let in the light.

While the work, which started on Monday 6 November 2006, was underway all trams used platform 2. On 14 December the works were substantially complete and services were back on Platform 1. Some minor painting work was left until the New Year.

Background Information

After a detailed survey of the Platform 1 canopy, at the end of 2002, the glazed panels were removed for safety reasons in April 2003. The survey had shown that the wrought iron canopy trusses, cast iron columns and ornate trusses were in a reasonable condition. However the glazing system had failed with glazing panels missing and glazing bars generally being in a poor condition. In addition the gutters and down pipes were in a poor state of repair.

In the future GMPTA wish to undertake a multimillion pound redevelopment of Altrincham Interchange. This project could become a priority for the region if additional government funding is made available. An alternative funding package including contributions from other organisations and staging the works may be the way to achieve redevelopment.


News 2007: 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.