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Old May 14th, 2009, 06:48 PM   #1
MarkO
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MANCHESTER | Public Transport

After little wimpers and bigger protests, broken promises and sudden U-turns, the vast majority of the much needed "Big Bang" expansion of Manchester Metrolink light rail system is back on track!

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/e...er/8047020.stm

The surprise agreement this week between all ten authorities of the Greater Manchester conurbation, signals the release of locally raised taxes to fund the shortfall needed for the full "Big Bang" Metrolink tram expansion program which will see a full network of over 100km and more than 100 stops in service by around 2013.

Here is an official map of what is now in existence (yellow), under construction (green unbroken lines) and now fully funded for building (green broken lines):
image hosted on flickr



Background:
The Manchester Metrolink was Britains first modern light rail system. It's initial lines opened in 1992 after converstion of two former suburban electric mainlines (Altrincham to Manchester and Bury to Manchester) and a new street-running section though the city centre.

It spurred the development of new LRT in Sheffield, Birmingham, Croydon and some years later Nottingham.

The incoming Labour Government of 1997 had pledged to fund more extensions to those systems plus look at much needed urban rail for Leeds, Liverpool, Bristol, South Hampshire and several other cities - hearalding the start of a long overdue major investment in urban rail outside the capital.

After years of stalling, Labour broke its urban transit promises and turned against trams (with almost nothing done) in the early 2000's, finally shutting the door on all schemes in 2005/6.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/e...de/4481146.stm

Meanwhile the Scottish government marched ahead with funding new trams for Edinburgh and even Nottingham squeezed through a minor extension. Then in 2006 Manchester transit authority GMPTE winkled a reprieve from Douglas Alexander (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/e...er/5152948.stm) who announced a paired down expansion of the system would get the original money they'd been promised but this would not achive a route to Manchester Airport or certain key town centre routes.

During 2007/8 there was some hope Manchester would gain the extra money it needed for the full "Big Bang" light rail expansion by competing for "Transport Innovation Fund" - TIF - money, but since that would have involved a Congestion Charging scheme for cars, a referendum was called and this vote weas lost - dashing hopes for up to £3billion in transport investments.

Work on the "Little Bang" however has now started in Manchester (clearance has begun on the long closed heavy rail route to Chorlton, work is progressing behind Piccadilly Station on the Droylesden route with several road closures and traffic diversions in place for the build and the commuter line between Manchester, Oldham and Rochdale will close to heavy rail in October to allow conversion to light rail. A tiny spur to the new media:city site is also under construction).

But not being able to penetrate the town centres of Oldham and Rochdale or build the relatively long route through south Manchester to the Airport, or to fund a second city centre crossing would have left the network feeling clipped at the wings.

Todays situation
This weeks surprise agreement between all ten metropolitain boroughs (under Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem and No Overal Control) is a first for UK transport investment and a relatively unknown phenomenon in British politics. A tiny increase of around £2 per year per Council Tax bill across the (former) County of Greater Manchester (covering about 2.5 million people) will cover the shortfall between the "Little Bang" already underway and the full "Big Bang" (plus a couple of road bypass building schemes and a guided bus route).

When complete this will represent the largest light rail network in the UK, hopefully proving to Governments of any colour that Britains big provincial cities need fast, efficient, rail-based rapid transit, and finally signifying a proper renaissance for light rail in the UK. It still means Britain has a long way to go to catch up with France, Sapin, Italy or Germany...but huge cheers should go to all involved from all political parties and especially the hardwork of the ever diplomatic GMPTE. They have achieved more for their area than has been possible in any other region outside London for decades.

We should all be rightly proud of them and wish full speed to it's construction.

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Old May 14th, 2009, 06:53 PM   #2
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Very nice summary Mark and great that Manchester is finally getting a system that it doesn't have to be ashamed of.
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Old May 14th, 2009, 06:53 PM   #3
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Nice!!

I love Manchester's system!
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Old May 15th, 2009, 04:54 AM   #4
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Excellent news! I was worried after the rejection of the congestion charge that things might have stalled completely! Glad to be proven wrong.
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Old May 15th, 2009, 04:45 PM   #5
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Finally - they're putting a second route through the City Centre! Though in an ideal world, this should be underground.

Will we be seeing better information about the service at the tram stops?

Will ticketing be fully integrated across the city?

I'm really pleased this has been kicked off. But a city region like Manchester deserves a true urban metro - not some tram come light rail system. Metrolink in its present state is hardly a "roaring" success.
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Old May 17th, 2009, 03:51 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sarflonlad View Post
Finally - they're putting a second route through the City Centre! Though in an ideal world, this should be underground.

Will we be seeing better information about the service at the tram stops?

Will ticketing be fully integrated across the city?

I'm really pleased this has been kicked off. But a city region like Manchester deserves a true urban metro - not some tram come light rail system. Metrolink in its present state is hardly a "roaring" success.

Transport users prefer surface stations to underground stations, and as you say it's a light rail system, so it's perfectly possible and a lot cheaper to run it down the streets. Underground for Metrolink isn't currently needed and would be an extravagence.

The current upgrade works are replacing all the station infrastructure, so hopefully all stations will have service information within the next few years.

It isn't possible to integrate bus and tram tickets at present because like everywhere else in Britain outside London, buses are privatised and deregulated. It's an ambition for the future, but not possible at present.

In pursuing Metrolink Manchester has taken a pragmatic approach to public transport investment. It isn't a particularly dense city, it doesn't contain a major waterway and it doesn't have a historic centre that trams can't traverse. It doesn't need a true metro to the same extent that some of its continental peers do. Now obviously there are corridors that probably could benefit from a more intense transport provision than light rail can provide, but at present it seems that a broader network coverage should be the priority. When you consider the relative costs of tunneling to surface construction, if Manchester spent £1.5 billion on tunnels it would get only a fraction of the benefits that this investment will bring.

It also seems unfair not to characterise Metrolink as a 'roaring success'. It isn't the most brilliant system in the world, but it is successful. It carries more riders than expected, it has encouraged regeneration of the city and it makes an operating profit that is helping to facillite its further growth. If that isn't a success I don't know what is?
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Old June 20th, 2009, 04:51 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cherguevara View Post
Transport users prefer surface stations to underground stations, and as you say it's a light rail system, so it's perfectly possible and a lot cheaper to run it down the streets. Underground for Metrolink isn't currently needed and would be an extravagence.

The current upgrade works are replacing all the station infrastructure, so hopefully all stations will have service information within the next few years.

It isn't possible to integrate bus and tram tickets at present because like everywhere else in Britain outside London, buses are privatised and deregulated. It's an ambition for the future, but not possible at present.

In pursuing Metrolink Manchester has taken a pragmatic approach to public transport investment. It isn't a particularly dense city, it doesn't contain a major waterway and it doesn't have a historic centre that trams can't traverse. It doesn't need a true metro to the same extent that some of its continental peers do. Now obviously there are corridors that probably could benefit from a more intense transport provision than light rail can provide, but at present it seems that a broader network coverage should be the priority. When you consider the relative costs of tunneling to surface construction, if Manchester spent £1.5 billion on tunnels it would get only a fraction of the benefits that this investment will bring.

It also seems unfair not to characterise Metrolink as a 'roaring success'. It isn't the most brilliant system in the world, but it is successful. It carries more riders than expected, it has encouraged regeneration of the city and it makes an operating profit that is helping to facillite its further growth. If that isn't a success I don't know what is?
You say they prefer this or that but its different for each person. Technically for operations the centre lines being underground would greatly benefit the city and the system. It cuts out accidents(crashes with traffic, derailments)it speeds up the system(no traffic lights and standard tracks running at a higher speed between stations) and it also provides shelter. The costs involved at this time are far too great for a city wide system which is only really just starting. If we come back in 10-20 years and discuss this topic it could be totally different.
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Old June 22nd, 2009, 10:34 PM   #8
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It will be an excellent system once built.

There is definately a strange phobia of digging anything underground in the UK. I'm not quite sure why. And i dont just mean subways and metros, I mean underground car parks and shopping.
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Old June 23rd, 2009, 02:33 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Republica View Post
It will be an excellent system once built.

There is definately a strange phobia of digging anything underground in the UK. I'm not quite sure why. And i dont just mean subways and metros, I mean underground car parks and shopping.

In the UK no new metro systems underground have never really happened for over 100 years which some people would find a huge shock. Glasgow and London are the only places with true underground systems and everywhere else has never had the chance and won't have the chance any time soon.

I don't know about car parks, nearly every new building in central Manchester has underground parking but shopping? I've no idea why'd you want an underground shopping centre?
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Old June 23rd, 2009, 04:45 AM   #10
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umm your forgetting newcastle which has a metro underground as well.

maybe it could be the easier access since a station underground requires elevators, stairs and such and that takes time while an ground level station is much more easier to access but of course there is its dangers to it.

anyways this is great Britain is investing more into mass Transit this is the way to go and also extending their Light Rail network is awesome.

umm does the light Rail network goes to the airport it will score megapoints for that as well.

so everybody lets have a toast to the future of this great network and the promise of other new systems in other cities as well.

Bankai!!!!!!!!! (sorry about that i been watching One Piece so thats why)
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Old June 23rd, 2009, 07:54 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andysimo123 View Post
In the UK no new metro systems underground have never really happened for over 100 years which some people would find a huge shock. Glasgow and London are the only places with true underground systems and everywhere else has never had the chance and won't have the chance any time soon.

I don't know about car parks, nearly every new building in central Manchester has underground parking but shopping? I've no idea why'd you want an underground shopping centre?
You're forgetting Tyne and Wear (Newcastle) Metro runs underground. And Merseyside (Liverpool) has the deep-level tube Wirral Line and the sub-surface level Northern Line.
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Old June 24th, 2009, 02:14 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lightrail View Post
You're forgetting Tyne and Wear (Newcastle) Metro runs underground. And Merseyside (Liverpool) has the deep-level tube Wirral Line and the sub-surface level Northern Line.
Neither of those operate as full metros though, although they do both go underground yes.

Andy - Just because people have divergent views doesn't mean there isn't an general trend and largely people don't like being underground if they can possibly avoid it.
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Old June 24th, 2009, 02:42 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lightrail View Post
You're forgetting Tyne and Wear (Newcastle) Metro runs underground. And Merseyside (Liverpool) has the deep-level tube Wirral Line and the sub-surface level Northern Line.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Songoten2554 View Post
umm your forgetting newcastle which has a metro underground as well.

maybe it could be the easier access since a station underground requires elevators, stairs and such and that takes time while an ground level station is much more easier to access but of course there is its dangers to it.

anyways this is great Britain is investing more into mass Transit this is the way to go and also extending their Light Rail network is awesome.

umm does the light Rail network goes to the airport it will score megapoints for that as well.

so everybody lets have a toast to the future of this great network and the promise of other new systems in other cities as well.

Bankai!!!!!!!!! (sorry about that i been watching One Piece so thats why)
Hence the 'true underground' right in the middle.

Britain isn't investing in Light Rail. Manchester is. Labour want to slow it down at all costs. Every-other city is at a total stand still and its a great shame.
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Old June 24th, 2009, 07:40 PM   #14
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Can it cope with all the extensions though? Whe I was last in the city (staying with my aunt in Knutsford) trying to get on a tram to Altrincham was as bad the Victoria Line in rush hour... You had to let 2 or 3 go before you could squeeze on one.
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Old June 24th, 2009, 09:19 PM   #15
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Unfortunately I have a feeling it's going to get even worse since, if you use the current loading figures, the system with all the new trams should be able to cope with an annual patronage of about 47 million. Personally I think this is a significant underestimate of demand given not only the expansion of the system but also the radical overhaul of phase 1&2 which will potentially remove many of their significant problems.
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Old June 24th, 2009, 09:52 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cherguevara View Post
Neither of those operate as full metros though, although they do both go underground yes.

Andy - Just because people have divergent views doesn't mean there isn't an general trend and largely people don't like being underground if they can possibly avoid it.
The Tyne and Wear operates as a full metro.

Merseyrail operates similar to s-bahn.

I would argue - people prefer to be underground at 20-40mph than crawling through the streets of Manchester. Trams are hardly the cutting edge of mass urban transportation. And the Metrolink is naff at best in its current state. It needs sorting out.
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Old June 25th, 2009, 12:16 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sarflonlad View Post
The Tyne and Wear operates as a full metro.

Merseyrail operates similar to s-bahn.
So what's the difference, exactly?
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Old June 25th, 2009, 02:13 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sarflonlad View Post
The Tyne and Wear operates as a full metro.

Merseyrail operates similar to s-bahn.

I would argue - people prefer to be underground at 20-40mph than crawling through the streets of Manchester. Trams are hardly the cutting edge of mass urban transportation. And the Metrolink is naff at best in its current state. It needs sorting out.
I think argument is those aren't really seen in the same light as the London Underground or Glasgows Underground. Two systems specify designed mostly to be underground, against two system systems which mostly run overground. If Manchester trams in the Centre went underground I wouldn't start calling it a fully fledged underground Metro system.

When you hear the word tram don't straight away think Amsterdam or San Francisco. Most of the system runs at 50 mph on old national railway lines. I wouldn't argue against the case for an Underground section through the City Centre. It would clearly improve the system but its not going to happen.
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Old June 25th, 2009, 04:09 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andysimo123 View Post
In the UK no new metro systems underground have never really happened for over 100 years which some people would find a huge shock. Glasgow and London are the only places with true underground systems and everywhere else has never had the chance and won't have the chance any time soon.

I don't know about car parks, nearly every new building in central Manchester has underground parking but shopping? I've no idea why'd you want an underground shopping centre?
Glascow's circular underground, now that's got to one of the oldest & most unique & quaint subways anywhere in the world!
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Old June 25th, 2009, 06:41 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andysimo123 View Post
I think argument is those aren't really seen in the same light as the London Underground or Glasgows Underground. Two systems specify designed mostly to be underground, against two system systems which mostly run overground. If Manchester trams in the Centre went underground I wouldn't start calling it a fully fledged underground Metro system.

When you hear the word tram don't straight away think Amsterdam or San Francisco. Most of the system runs at 50 mph on old national railway lines. I wouldn't argue against the case for an Underground section through the City Centre. It would clearly improve the system but its not going to happen.
Have yu ever ridden the underground - most of it is on the surface. There's nothing different between the London Underground and the Merseyside's Wirral and Northern Lines, except the rolling stock.
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