Published: 27th June 2015
Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has sent out a reminder to passengers that the city centre service running via St Peter’s Square will not be able to run for eight weeks from Sunday 28 June until the end of August. Why does this affect rail passengers? Because the tram provides a cheap and convenient fast link between Manchester Victoria and Piccadilly stations used by millions of passengers a year.
TfGM has been making alterations to minimise disruption and passengers using the Altrincham, Manchester Airport, East Didsbury, Eccles and MediaCityUK lines, the upgraded Deansgate-Castlefield stop becomes the closest city centre stop. There will be shuttle bus services and special walking routes to help passengers cross the city during the work.
Manchester Metrolink services will run on average every 12 minutes with some services running with a pair of trams to ease congestion. The free city centre Metroshuttle bus services will offer frequent services to get around the city linking to Deansgate-Castlefield, Shudehill, Piccadilly and Victoria tram stops but you must have a Mertolink ticket for these.
Peter Cushing, Metrolink Director at TfGM, said: “We’re carrying out this work during the summer when the trams are traditionally quieter, and we’ve planned Metrolink and shuttle bus services that we hope will limit the impact on customers as far as possible while keeping reliable, frequent links.
“I’d encourage anyone travelling by tram over the next few months to plan their journey in advance and I thank all our customers for their patience as we work to improve their stops and services.
“The work taking place over the next few months will allow us to keep trams running on a single line through St Peter’s Square for the vast majority of the construction work programme – keeping tram links right across the city.”
This closure marks the start of a 14-month construction programme to build a new expanded stop built closer to the new Cenotaph which will have two new island style platforms and two sets of track in each direction. This will enable more services to run through the city on existing lines and via a new second city crossing.
From September, services will resume in both directions on a single line through the square for the ten-month construction period as works continue alongside. There will be another eight-week closure in 12 months time and the second city crossing route should open in 2017.
Metrolink’s 100th tram has entered service after staff from Metrolink operator RATP Dev and TfGM celebrated the milestone on June 25.
Called Tram 100, newly arrived in Manchester from Vienna on 13 June has been allocated number 3100 and undergone rigorous final testing. This addition to the fleet confirms Metrolink as the largest light rail network in the UK carrying around 86,000 passengers a day.
Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of the TfGM Committee, said: “We’ve come a long way since 1992 when the first fleet of just 26 trams started running on the Bury-Altrincham lines.
“Thanks to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority driving forward investment we now have a completely new fleet of trams. And more trams are on the way, as Metrolink’s fleet will ultimately be boosted to 120 vehicles by 2017 to provide extra space and capacity across the network.”
Bombardier and partner Vossloh-Kiepe manufacture the new-style ‘M5000’ yellow and silver trams, the first of which went into service on the Piccadilly to Eccles line on 16 December 2009.
The last old-school T68 model tram was retired last year, meaning the 100-strong fleet is now completely modernised. The same M5000 state-of-the-art model of tram also runs in several European cities, including Cologne, Bonn, Rotterdam and Stockholm.
In September last year TfGM announced it had been able to secure a £34 million deal with Bombardier for 16 new trams with funding from the government’s Local Growth Fund.
That order was in addition to the 10 trams ordered to serve the future Trafford Park line, and the 94 trams ordered to serve the expanded network and replace the entire T68 fleet.
Metrolink runs on a 57 mile network with 92 stops carrying 30 million passengers annually between the city centre, Bury, Altrincham, Eccles, MediaCityUK, Rochdale, Oldham, Ashton-under-Lyne, Chorlton, Didsbury, Wythenshawe and Manchester Airport.