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Manchester Metrolink News 2008

22 December 2008: TIF Bid Rejected
21 November 2008: City Centre Track Upgrades
31 October 2008: TIF bid, amended proposals and ballot question approved
8 October 2008: New look for new trams
2 October 2008: South Manchester Metrolink line, clearance work starts
30 September 2008: New Metrolink ticket machines
24 September 2008: Oldham and Rochdale line — conversion work start date announced
20 September 2008: City Centre Track Upgrades
1 September 2008: Park & Ride on Oldham and Rochdale line
29 August 2008: TIF bid, December postal ballot
24 June 2008: Twenty eight new trams on order for Metrolink phase 3a
17 June 2008: Trams on track for Spring 2011 arrival
9 June 2008: Government approves TIF package
5 June 2008: United City, an alliance of business leaders, backs TIF bid
2 June 2008: Metrolink now runs on water power
16 May 2008: Metrolink Phase 3a expansion gets final sign off
13 May 2008: GMPTE appoint Metrolink Director
25 April 2008: Metrolink expansion — ‘preferred bidder’ selected
22 April 2008: GMPTE appoint new Metrolink engineering manager
2 April 2008: Environmental surveys for Phase 3a
6 March 2008: GMPTE appoint new Information Systems Director
1 March 2008: Mediacity:uk — GMPTE consultation


22 December 2008: TIF Bid Rejected

The TIF Bid proposals were rejected by voters, in all Greater Manchester areas, in the referendum on 12 December 2008. The Association of Greater Manchester Authorities formally abandoned the bid on 19 December 2008.

21 November 2008: City Centre Track Upgrades

Piccadilly and Piccadilly Gardens stops reopened today; following completion of the first stage of city centre track upgrade work.

The Metrolink stop at Piccadilly rail station has been refurbished while it was closed. This new–look stop now features a new entrance, new signs, and a brighter look incorporating the colours of Metrolink’s new identity.

Behind the scenes engineering changes will also speed up the turnaround time of trams at Piccadilly station, making the system more efficient.

The rest of the city centre track upgrade project will take place next year.

31 October 2008: TIF bid, amended proposals and ballot question approved

At their meeting in Manchester, the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA) accepted the slightly amended proposals for the TIF bid. They also approved the draft question and ballot pack designed by independent expert Sir Neil McIntosh. The question contained a preamble mentioning both the GBP2.7bn of transport investment and peak–hour only weekday charge which would unlock the investment. It then asks people whether they support the proposals or not.

There will be a postal ballot across Greater Manchester on the TIF bid proposals in December 2008.

8 October 2008: New look for new trams

GMPTA councillors unveiled the new Metrolink look on a model tram outside Manchester Central today. 40 new Metrolink trams will bring a splash of yellow to Greater Manchester when they start to arrive next year.

The trams will be yellow at the front, and have yellow and silver sides. The new colours will also be used inside the trams. Full–length glass double doors will make them feel lighter and brighter.

The trams will be added to the Metrolink network over the next three years. They will run on the existing system as well on the new lines to Oldham and Rochdale, Droylsden, Chorlton and Mediacity:UK in Salford Quays.

The new look was developed by Manchester–based design agency Hemisphere. Grant Windridge, Creative Director, said: “Our aim has been to create a bright and iconic tram that is easily recognisable on the streets. We chose yellow not just because of its high visibility but also because its traditional association with confidence and optimism echoes Greater Manchester’s attitude and values.”

See the Bombardier M5000 page for more information and pictures.

2 October 2008: South Manchester Metrolink line, clearance work starts

Councillor Matt Colledge, Chair of GMPTA and Trafford spokesperson, visited the site of the new tram depot in Old Trafford to watch the work start. It is more than forty years after the last passenger train ran on 2 January 1967. New Metrolink lines will also be built to Oldham and Rochdale, and through East Manchester to Droylsden.

The MPact–Thales consortium has been appointed to design, build and maintain the new Metrolink lines. Bryan Diggins, MPact–Thales’ Project Director, said: “As the contractor, MPact–Thales is committed to working with local communities, schools and businesses to keep disruption to a minimum, and to keep local people informed about the work.”

GMPTE are working closely with Natural England to protect wildlife along the new route. They have also pledged to plant at least five young trees for every tree they need to remove as part of the project.

Construction work on the three new Metrolink lines is due to start next year. Bridge inspections are currently taking place on the Oldham and Rochdale line. Utility surveys and phone line diversions are being carried out along the route of the new tram line through East Manchester to Droylsden.

30 September 2008: New Metrolink ticket machines

GMPTE have appointed the international company Scheidt & Bachmann to design, build and install more than 200 new state–of–the–art new touch–screen ticket machines.

They will be installed as part of a GBP 5.4 million project over the next three years. Starting in 2009 with completion by summer 2010, 121 will be installed at Metrolink stops. They will replace all of the existing ticket machines on the network.

Building work on the new lines to Oldham and Rochdale, Droylsden in Tameside, Chorlton in South Manchester and MediaCity:UK in Salford Quays, will start early next year. Another 108 touch–screen ticket machines will be installed at each of the 27 new stops during their construction.

Up to five machines will be installed at each stop. At least one of these will be a cash only queue–busting machine; making it quicker and easier for passengers to buy tickets to a limited number of popular destinations. All of the other machines will accept both cash and debit or credit cards. They are latest generation of self–service ticket machines which can, in future, be upgraded to work in an ITSO Smart Card environment.

24 September 2008: Oldham and Rochdale line — conversion work start date announced

Work to replace the Oldham and Rochdale railway line with a brand new Metrolink tram line will begin in just over one year. GMPTE and Northern Rail have announced that the last train on this line will run on Saturday 3 October 2009.

GMPTE will work closely with the bus operators to see how the existing bus network can be enhanced while the line is upgraded. Passenger origin and final destination surveys, together with consultations about about alternative bus services will take place. More details will be available nearer the Oldham line closure time. Trains will continue to run as normal on the Manchester, Rochdale and Leeds line.

Metrolink is due to open between Manchester and Central Park in spring 2011. Manchester to Oldham Mumps is expected to open in autumn 2011 and onwards to Rochdale in spring 2012.

Services will run between Shaw & Crompton and Manchester every 6 minutes, and between Rochdale and Manchester every 12 minutes, when the route opens. This will be more than twice as frequent as the existing train service, also it will provide a direct link into the heart of Manchester city centre and beyond.

The Oldham and Rochdale town centre extensions; together with those to Ashton–under–Lyne, East Didsbury, Manchester Airport and Trafford Centre, depend on a successful GBP3 billion TIF bid. A formal consultation on these proposals is currently taking place and a referendum will be held in December.

20 September 2008: City Centre Track Upgrades

The first stage of Metrolink City Centre Track Upgrades will take place from Saturday 27 September to Friday 21 November 2008. Piccadilly and Piccadilly Gardens stops will be closed.

All Altrincham to Bury services will run direct every 6 or 12 minutes. Eccles services will run to Victoria every 12 minutes.

A shuttle bus service will run between Fairfield Street, outside Manchester Piccadilly station, and Market Street every 10 minutes. Extra buses will operate at busy times.

The rest of the city centre track upgrade project will take place next year.

1 September 2008: Park & Ride on Oldham and Rochdale line

GMPTE have announced plans to create two large Park & Ride sites at Hollinwood and Derker Metrolink stops; these will be part of Phase 3a.

Hollinwood stop will be close to junction 22 on the M60. A site has been identified for an up to 120 space car park. At Derker an up to 80 space car park site has also been identified. Negotiations to acquire the land are underway for both sites.

Parking at Shaw and Crompton will also be upgraded and include up to 40 spaces. Also with improvements at other stops, there will be more than 250 spaces on the line.

With a successful TIF bid for Phase 3b; there would be more than 200 additional spaces at Shaw and Crompton along with 300 at Rochdale train station.

29 August 2008: TIF bid, December postal ballot

At their meeting in Bolton, the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA) confirmed that there would be a postal ballot across Greater Manchester on the TIF bid proposals in December 2008.

If accepted, the proposals will bring an investment up to GBP 3 billion in public transport across Greater Manchester, accompanied by a weekday peak–time only congestion charge beginning in 2013 at the earliest.

24 June 2008: Twenty eight new trams on order for Metrolink phase 3a

GMPTE has ordered a further 28 new FLEXITY Swift trams for the Metrolink Phase 3a extensions; to Oldham and Rochdale, Droylsden in Tameside and Chorlton in South Manchester. They will be built by global transport company Bombardier in partnership with Vossloh Kiepe.

Last year GMPTE ordered 12 new trams to relieve overcrowding on the existing Metrolink network and provide a new service to MediaCity:UK in Salford Quays. This order will take the total number of trams on the Metrolink network to 72.

See the Bombardier M5000 page for more information and pictures.

17 June 2008: Trams on track for Spring 2011 arrival

New tram lines are due to start opening in Greater Manchester from Spring 2011 after transport bosses shook hands on a deal to extend the network. GMPTE has appointed M–Pact Thales to design, build and maintain the new lines as part of a GBP575 million project.

These new phase 3a lines to Oldham and Rochdale, Droylsden in Tameside and Chorlton in South Manchester will nearly double the size of the Metrolink network. The new Metrolink lines will cover nearly 20 miles and include 26 stops. M–Pact Thales will also build a new quarter of a mile extension to MediaCity:UK in Salford Quays if the project is approved by the government.

Time scales

Trains will stop running on the train line to Oldham and Rochdale in Autumn 2009, with the new Metrolink line expected to open to trams between Manchester and Central Park in Spring 2011. Trams are also due to begin running to St Werburgh’s Road in Chorlton by Spring 2011, Oldham Mumps by Autumn 2011, and to Rochdale and Droylsden by Spring 2012.

GMPTE is developing proposals for alternative bus services along the Oldham and Rochdale line while the work takes place. It will provide detailed information to passengers nearer the time.

Further Metrolink extensions could be funded with money from the government’s Transport Innovation Fund (TIF), and from a loan supported by the introduction of a limited, peak–time only, congestion charge.

9 June 2008: Government approves TIF package

Ruth Kelly, Secretary of State for Transport, announced that Greater Manchester’s TIF bid for investment in the city–region’s public transport system has been approved for programme entry by the Department for Transport.

Up to GBP3 billion of funding will be available; comprising Government grants of GBP1.5 billion, GBP1.2 billion of local funding supported by future revenue from a limited peak time only congestion charge and GBP0.1 billion of third party contributions. This charge will not be introduced until the summer of 2013 at the earliest and will be no more than GBP5 per day at 2007 prices.

The DfT has also confirmed that it will fund extra railway rolling stock and other enhancements for a range of local rail services serving Greater Manchester and supporting in excess of 7,000 extra passengers at peak times.

All of this investment is in addition to the GBP0.6 billion funding which was recently approved by the Secretary of State for Transport for Metrolink Phase 3A.

The Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA) and GMPTA/E will undertake a wide ranging public consultation exercise over the coming months.

Key improvements TIF will deliver across Greater Manchester include:

5 June 2008: United City, an alliance of business leaders, backs TIF bid

A new alliance of major Greater Manchester businesses has been formed to support the GBP3bn Transport Innovation Fund bid.

The United City group believes that good public transport is good for business and that everyone in Greater Manchester will benefit from the huge investment in the transport system.

2 June 2008: Metrolink now runs on water power

GMPTE has signed a deal with Scottish and Southern Energy for hydroelectricity to run the service. Metrolink is already one of the most environmentally–friendly forms of transport in Greater Manchester as it does not produce air pollution at street level. Using hydroelectric power for the trams will also substantially cut Metrolink’s carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.

Philip Purdy, GMPTE’s Metrolink Director, said: “About a quarter of the UK’s carbon emissions come from transport, and we want to do our bit to reduce them. Anyone who travels on Metrolink instead of using their car is already helping to fight climate change as trams are nearly four times better for the environment. Using hydropower will make them even more environmentally friendly. I hope our decision will encourage people to leave their cars at home and travel by tram instead.”

A recent GMPTE survey found that nearly a fifth of people in Greater Manchester claim to have altered how they make journeys because of fears about climate change. 25 to 39–year–olds are most likely to have been affected. 21 per cent said it has led to them altering their travel behaviour, compared to 12 per cent for over 60s. The survey was carried out last summer and focused on travel behaviour during the previous six months.

16 May 2008: Metrolink Phase 3a expansion gets final sign off

Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly today announced the government’s decision to give its final approval to the Metrolink Phase 3a expansion. Leading politicians and transport bosses in Greater Manchester have welcomed the news.

Michael Renshaw, GMPTE Interim Service Delivery Director, said: “We’re already carrying out initial surveys along the routes, and we’ve selected M–Pact Thales as our preferred bidder for the expansion. Today’s announcement means we can now complete our negotiations with the consortium and hopefully sign a contract within the next few weeks. We’ll be able to provide more details about the timescales for the project once we’ve got a construction team in place.”

13 May 2008: GMPTE appoint Metrolink Director

Philip Purdy, an Australian expert with 30 years experience of public transport, has made the 10,500-mile trip from Melbourne to Manchester to take up his new role with GMPTE as Metrolink Director.

He has overseen a variety of major projects in Melbourne; including new tram extensions, interchanges and a new tram depot. His previous role was Asset Development Manager at Yarra Trams; which operates Melbourne’s 250km tram network — one of the largest tram systems in the world.

Philip said: “It’s a very exciting time to be joining the Metrolink team. Manchester is a world–class city and I’m looking forward to being able to provide a tram system that matches that. ”He continued:“ The new Metrolink extensions will nearly double the size of the network and take an extra five million car journeys off local roads every year. They will bring huge benefits to new parts of Greater Manchester and I’m delighted I’ll be helping to make them become a reality.”

David Leather, GMPTE’s Chief Executive, added: “Philip has a proven track record when it comes to overseeing tram projects and making sure they’re completed both on time and within budget. His vast experience is going to be a major boost to the Metrolink expansion and I’m looking forward to working with him.”

25 April 2008: Metrolink expansion — ‘preferred bidder’ selected

GMPTE has selected the M–Pact Thales consortium as preferred bidder for the ‘design, construct and maintain’ contract for Phase 3a. The consortium is made up of Thales, Laing O’Rourke and GrantRail.

This major expansion will convert the Rochdale via Oldham railway line to Metrolink; build the line to Droylsden in Tameside; build the first part of the southern routes to St. Werburgh’s Road, Chorlton in South Manchester.

David Leather, GMPTE’s Interim Chief Executive, said: “Metrolink has been a massive success since the first lines to Bury and Altrincham opened in 1992. I’m delighted we’ve now selected a preferred bidder for this major expansion of the tram network.” He continued: “This consortium brings a wealth of experience, having worked on tram systems across the UK — including Metrolink. The team also have offices in Manchester and so have a good understanding of the areas they will be building the new lines in. I look forward to working with them to bring all the benefits of Metrolink to thousands more people across Greater Manchester.”

GMPTE will now go back to the Department for Transport to obtain final sign off for the project, which will enable a contract to be placed with the M–Pact Thales consortium.

The contract will also include a quarter of a mile extension to mediacity:uk in Salford Quays if the Transport and Works Act order is approved by the government.

More lines into Oldham and Rochdale town centres, as well as to Ashton–under–Lyne, East Didsbury, Manchester Airport and the Trafford Centre, could also be built if Greater Manchester’s bid to the government’s Transport Innovation Fund is successful.

The Companies

Laing O’Rourke is a major and growing force in building and infrastructure design, construction and related services within its chosen markets. The group is responsible for delivering some of the most challenging construction and infrastructure projects in the world, including working in a fully integrated consortium to deliver the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, transforming St Pancras into one of the UK’s most important transport interchanges.

GrantRail Group is the UK rail contracting arm of major Dutch contractor, Volker Wessels and steel giant Corus. GrantRail provides a wide range of contracting services to the railway industry from major capital projects to track renewals and specialised operations. It has extensive UK tram systems experience over the last 25 years, having constructed track systems for Nottingham, London Underground, Docklands Light Railway, the Midland Metro, Dublin and Manchester Metrolink. The schemes in Manchester and the West Midlands were constructed by the M–Pact partners.

Thales is an international company dedicated to providing high technology and systems integration solutions that meet the needs of customers and leads the way in the provision of mission critical information systems world–wide. The company handles major transport projects and is a global leader in Light Rail and Metro supervisory and control systems and technologies. Global clients include RATP, Singapore Mass Transit, Bilbao, Hong Kong and Santiago Metros, Lille Tramway and Croydon Tramlink, together with London Underground.

22 April 2008: GMPTE appoint new Metrolink engineering manager

Jim Harries, who oversaw the construction of Metrolink Phase 1, has returned to Manchester to help manage its Phase 3 expansion. He has been appointed as the new Metrolink engineering manager for GMPTE.

Mr Harries — a Cambridge University graduate — began his career as an engineering management trainee at British Rail. He was appointed as the engineering manager of Greater Manchester Metro Ltd (GMML) in 1990 before becoming its managing director in 1996.

Since leaving GMML in 1998, he has worked as the commissioning manager for the Lewisham extension of the Docklands Light Railway in London, the operations manager for the construction of the Nottingham Express Transit tram system, and the project engineer for Edinburgh’s new tram network.

GMML built the first section of the Metrolink network, between Bury, Manchester and Altrincham, which opened in 1992. It also operated the tram service until 1997.

Mr Harries will be taking on responsibility for engineering on both the existing Phase 1 & 2 lines and new Phase 3 lines. The latter will nearly double the size of the Metrolink network and are expected to take five million car journeys off local roads every year.

2 April 2008: Environmental surveys for Phase 3a

GMPTE are arranging for environmental surveys to be carried out along the Phase 3a routes. Starting next week these will check for protected species and record which trees and shrubs need to be replaced.

Further surveys will also take place later in the spring through to the autumn; updating noise and air quality information, also investigating the ground and drainage conditions. Specialists will investigate traffic levels and develop plans to manage the flow of traffic.

Most of the surveys will take place between 8am and 6pm, although some will involve dawn and dusk observations of bats and other protected species. The people carrying out the surveys will carry ID and authorisation letters.

GMPTE has shortlisted several companies to build the new Metrolink lines and expects to be able to appoint one of them later this spring.

6 March 2008: GMPTE appoint new Information Systems Director

GMPTE have appointed David Hytch as the new Information Systems Director. An expert in transport technology, he has helped to develop real–time information and prepaid travel card schemes in Europe and the US. His team will work on initiatives that use technology to improve public transport in the county.

Mr Hytch said: “I’m delighted to be joining GMPTE at an exciting time for the organisation. I’m looking forward to using technology to make it easier for people to travel on public transport in Greater Manchester.” He continued: “We want passengers to be able to get hold of up–to–the–minute information about their services wherever they are, whether it’s at work, in town or waiting for a bus. We’re also planning to improve the ticketing system to make it simpler to travel on any local bus, train or tram service. The Oyster card has transformed the transport system in London. We want to take advantage of new technology to create our own prepaid smartcard in Greater Manchester.”

David Leather, GMPTE’s Chief Executive, added: “David has a fantastic amount of experience in using technology to improve public transport and I’m delighted he’s bringing his skills and knowledge to Greater Manchester. Many people are still put off using public transport because they find it daunting. David’s team will simplify the ticketing system and making it easier for people to find out about their local services.”

David Hytch has joined GMPTE from Logica — a multinational information technology and business services company. As the Head of the Intelligent Transport Systems Practice, he oversaw the development of real–time passenger information, smartcard and traffic management systems.

1 March 2008: Mediacity:uk — GMPTE consultation

Planning permission for the Mediacity:UK spur was granted on 3 October 2007. This 360 metre extension will start at the Eccles line near the existing Harbour City stop and end at a new tram stop in mediacity:uk. The new stop will be a short walk from The Lowry.

GMPTE is running a public consultation until mid April 2008. GMPTE will pull together all the comments received on the proposals and use them to develop their application for a Transport and Works Act Order. If the application is successful, the Order will give GMPTE legal powers to run trams into mediacity:uk.

Salford City Council, Peel Media and the North West Development Agency have already agreed to provide funding for the mediacity:uk extension and GMPTE expect to open it in Summer 2010.


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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.