Manchester Metrolink - A
Manchester Metrolink - A
Manchester Metrolink is a tram/light rail system in Greater Manchester, England. The network has 99 stops along 64 miles (103 km) of standard-gauge route, making it the most extensive light rail system in the United Kingdom. Metrolink is owned by the public body Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and operated and maintained under contract by a Keolis/Amey consortium. Over the 2022/23 financial year 36 million passenger journeys were made on the system.
The network consists of eight lines which radiate from Manchester city centre to termini at Altrincham, Ashton-under-Lyne, Bury, East Didsbury, Eccles, Manchester Airport, Rochdale and The Trafford Centre. It runs on a mixture of on-street track shared with other traffic, reserved track sections segregated from other traffic, and converted former railway lines. Metrolink is operated by a fleet of 147 high-floor Bombardier M5000 light rail vehicles. Each service runs to a 12-minute headway, stops with more than one service experience combined headways of 6 minutes or less. At the busiest times some services operate as 'doubles', with two vehicles coupled together.
A light rail system for Greater Manchester emerged from the failure of the 1970s Picc-Vic tunnel scheme to obtain central government funding. A light-rail scheme was proposed in 1982 as the least expensive rail-based transport solution for Manchester city centre and the surrounding Greater Manchester metropolitan area. Government approval was granted in 1988, and the network began operating services between Bury Interchange and Victoria on 6 April 1992. Metrolink became the United Kingdom's first modern street-running rail system, the 1885-built Blackpool tramway being the only first-generation tram system in the UK that had survived up to Metrolink's creation.
Expansion of Metrolink has been a critical strategy of transport planners in Greater Manchester, who have overseen its development in successive projects, known as Phases 1, 2, 3a, 3b, 2CC and Trafford Park. The latest extension, the Trafford Park Line from Pomona to the Trafford Centre, opened in March 2020. The Greater Manchester Combined Authority has proposed numerous further expansions of the network, including the addition of tram-train technology to extend Metrolink services onto local heavy-rail lines.
Manchester Metrolink History
Manchester Metrolink Predecessors
Manchester's first tram age began in 1877 with the first horse-drawn trams of Manchester Suburban Tramways Company. Electric traction was introduced in 1901, and the municipal Manchester Corporation Tramways expanded across the city. By 1930, Manchester's tram network had grown to 163 route miles (262 km), making it the third-largest tram system in the United Kingdom. After World War II, electric trolleybuses and motor buses began to be favoured by local authorities as a cheaper transport alternative, and by 1949 the last Manchester tram line was closed. Trolleybuses were withdrawn from service in 1966.
Manchester Metrolink Origins
Greater Manchester's railway network historically suffered from poor north–south connections because Manchester's main railway stations, Piccadilly and Victoria, were built in the 1840s on peripheral locations outside Manchester city centre. The central commercial district had no rail links, and over the years, several unsuccessful schemes were proposed to connect Manchester's rail termini.
In the 1960s, transport design studies were undertaken to address the problems of increasing traffic congestion. Many urban public transport schemes were evaluated for Manchester, including several types of monorail systems and metro-style systems.
While the monorail schemes were all abandoned, a scheme to create a tunnel link gained momentum. The SELNEC Passenger Transport Executive — the body formed in 1969 to improve public transport for Manchester and its surrounding municipalities – promoted the 'Picc-Vic tunnel' project. The project was a proposal to link Piccadilly and Victoria stations via a tunnel under the city centre and enable train services to run across the Manchester conurbation. Greater Manchester County Council (GMC) inherited the project and presented it to the United Kingdom Government in 1974, but the council failed to secure the necessary funding, and the project was abandoned in 1977. The Centreline shuttle bus service provided inter-station links for many years.
The Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive (GMPTE), the successor to SELNEC, continued to examine possible rail link solutions. Light rail emerged in the early 1980s as a cost-effective option that could make use of existing railway lines and run through the city centre at street level, eliminating the need for costly tunnelling works.
A Rail Study Group, composed of officials from British Rail, GMC and GMPTE formally endorsed the Project Light Rail scheme in 1984. Initial abstract proposals, based on light rail systems in North America and continental Europe, illustrated a draft 62-mile (100 km) network consisting of three lines: Altrincham–Hadfield/Glossop, Bury–Marple/Rose Hill and Rochdale–East Didsbury. To promote the scheme, GMPTE held a public proof of concept demonstration in March 1987 using a Docklands Light Railway P86 train on a freight-only line adjacent to Debdale Park.
The Project Light Rail proposals were presented to the UK Government for taxpayer funding, following route revisions in 1984 and 1987, Project Light Rail was approved. Because of the central government's constraints on financial support for innovative transport projects, funding was granted by HM Treasury with the strict condition that the system be constructed in phases. Additional taxpayer funding came from the European Regional Development Fund and bank lending.
Manchester Metrolink Overview
Manchester Metrolink Owner: Transport for Greater Manchester
Manchester Metrolink Locale: Greater Manchester
Manchester Metrolink Transit Type: Tram/Light rail
Manchester Metrolink Number of Lines: 8
Manchester Metrolink Number of Stations: 99
Manchester Metrolink Annual Ridership: 36.0 million (2022/23)
Manchester Metrolink Increase: 38.5%
Manchester Metrolink Chief Executive: Danny Vaughan (TfGM Metrolink Director)
Manchester Metrolink Headquarters: Metrolink Trafford Depot
Warwick Road South
Manchester Metrolink Began Operation: 6 April 1992, 31 years ago
Manchester Metrolink Operator(s): KeolisAmey Metrolink Ltd.
Number of Vehicles: 147 Bombardier M5000
Manchester Metrolink Train Length: 28.4 metres (93 ft)
Manchester Metrolink System Length: 64 miles (103 km)
Manchester Metrolink Track Gauge: 4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Manchester Metrolink Minimum Radius of Curvature: 25 m (82 ft)
Manchester Metrolink Electrification: 750 V DC overhead line
Manchester Metrolink Top Speed: 50 miles per hour (80 km/h)