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Airport line to open 3rd November 2014. More than 1 year ahead of schedule:

13 October 2014

Launch date set for trams to Manchester Airport

Services on Metrolink’s new line to Manchester Airport will open to passengers on Monday 3 November – well over 12 months ahead of schedule.

The final stage of a thorough pre-launch process will start on Monday 20 October when test trams will start to run out of service between Cornbrook and the airport every 12 minutes – which is how often trams will run on the line from launch.

This will bring changes to first and last trams across the network and passengers are advised to check the Metrolink website from Monday (20 October) to see if and how their first or last services are changing.

Trams from the airport will run as far as Cornbrook initially, until Metrolink’s transformational Second City Crossing opens in 2017 and unlocks extra track capacity through the city centre.

Journeys from the Airport to Cornbrook, where passengers can connect with frequent services to stops across the network, will take around 45 minutes and will effectively double the number of trams running between St Werburgh’s Road and Cornbrook.

A driver’s eye view of the journey from Cornbrook (speeded up to take just 2.5 minutes) is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFxOjHgEgPo

A 300-space park and ride facility – free for Metrolink passengers to use – will open at the Sale Water Park stop, conveniently located just off Junction 6 of the M60.

The 14.5km Airport line will bring the size of the Metrolink network – owned by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) – to 92.5km (57.5 miles), serving 92 stops.

Footage of the M60 bridge installation – one of several major structures created for the new line – is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upeuM97TVRw

Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of the TfGM Committee, said: “Seeing our trams reach Manchester Airport more than a year ahead of schedule is a truly amazing achievement – and a game-changer for the communities set to benefit from its 15 new stops and frequent, fully accessible services.

“For Wythenshawe in particular, Metrolink will provide new and easier ways for people across Greater Manchester to reach the town centre and all it has to offer – as well as making it a more attractive place to live, work and do business.

“The arrival of the new town centre interchange next year will, of course, make it even easier still.

“For people already living along the line, it will provide new ways of getting to work, leisure, health and education opportunities.

“Because of that, it’s going to be a catalyst for great change and growth, and I am truly delighted we’ve been able to start that process so much earlier than we expected when we first started this very ambitious and challenging project.”

Councillor Jeff Smith, Manchester City Council's executive member for housing and regeneration, said: "This new line will play a vital role in supporting the ongoing regeneration of Wythenshawe as well as making it easier for residents to access jobs and services at the airport and across Greater Manchester.

“The fact it’s opening a year earlier than originally planned is fantastic news for residents and businesses in Wythenshawe.”
 

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A bit more progress at Altrincham Interchange.

I noticed this morning that they had been stripping out some bits of the old footbridge, much of the glazing over the Metrolink lines has been removed and some bits of the wooden panelling.

P1080025 by sghyde, on Flickr

P1080027 by sghyde, on Flickr

P1080034 by sghyde, on Flickr

Up on the bridge itself over the Network Rail lines there seem to be some possible cut marks now. let's hope Peter cuts in the right place!

P1080037 by sghyde, on Flickr

The new bridge is starting look quite smart.

P1080039 by sghyde, on Flickr

P1080045 by sghyde, on Flickr

Both of the new openings for access to the stairs and lift on Platform 4 are progressing well.

Stairs first.

P1080040 by sghyde, on Flickr

P1080041 by sghyde, on Flickr

now the lift, this one still needs a new lintel.

P1080044 by sghyde, on Flickr

P1080043 by sghyde, on Flickr

Outside from the Oakfield Road car park.

P1080049 by sghyde, on Flickr

P1080048 by sghyde, on Flickr

The refurbished face of the buildings on Platform 1 looks quite smart now.

P1080053 by sghyde, on Flickr

P1080054 by sghyde, on Flickr

Whilst I was on Platform 4 taking photos one of the project team came over talking to me. He told me that the old bridge is scheduled to be lifted out next Saturday night Sunday morning (25th 26th) and that the new bridge is likely to be in use if possible for this weekend. The lifts will follow towards the end of this year. He seemed quite pleased someone was taking photos and an interest.
 

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Some more shots from Altrincham Interchange that I missed out last night when I posted.

P1080066 by sghyde, on Flickr

P1080064 by sghyde, on Flickr

P1080057 by sghyde, on Flickr

The array of solar panels on the roof.

P1080063 by sghyde, on Flickr

A poor shot of the pit for Platform 2/3 lift.

P1080033 by sghyde, on Flickr

The stairs on Platform 2/3 need some finishing yet.

P1080036 by sghyde, on Flickr

One job they do have to complete before the bridge comes out is to transfer the OLE to the new structure.

P1080024 by sghyde, on Flickr

The gable end of Platform 1 canopy seems to need the roof panels interfacing with the timber end. The 2 guys in black seemed to be surveying the canopy end.

P1080029 by sghyde, on Flickr
 

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The face of Public transport in the Manchester area is changing so quickly, its hard to keep track (sorry no pun intended) of everything that`s happening.
 

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Andrew
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Everyone off Greater Manchester thread will probably seen these picture but anyone who haven't here some picture that I took yesterday of work going on at Manchester Victoria.

Looking at new roof at Victoria.







Work seen to be coming on quite well at Victoria now.









And platform seen to be coming on as well too.







Work going on near Cheetham Road bridge.



Here are three picture of work going on for new Second city centre line.







:banana:
 

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Ghost running service has begun this morning on the new Manchester Airport Metrolink Line in preparation for the line opening to passengers in early November.
 

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And here are some photos taken today of that ghost (or shadow) running.

Starting at the Airport. Of course it started raining as soon as I got off the train. I had to hang around quite a long time before 3068 appeared. I had just missed the previous departure as my train rolled in.

P1080081 by sghyde, on Flickr

P1080091 by sghyde, on Flickr

I then set off in the rain along Ringway Road.

3077 eventually appeared outbound.

P1080099 by sghyde, on Flickr

A little further on and it returned to Cornbrook.

P1080109 by sghyde, on Flickr

P1080113 by sghyde, on Flickr

At Shadowmoss 3071 appeared in the stop.

P1080114 by sghyde, on Flickr

P1080116 by sghyde, on Flickr

Off to Peel Hall where just as I arrived at the road junction 3071 appeared again.

P1080124 by sghyde, on Flickr

P1080129 by sghyde, on Flickr

With the next outbound not due for around 10 minutes I carried on to Robinswood Road hoping to catch one in each direction.

P1080136 by sghyde, on Flickr

P1080143 by sghyde, on Flickr

Unlucky so off to Wythenshawe Town Centre hoping for better luck.

P1080145 by sghyde, on Flickr

P1080148 by sghyde, on Flickr

P1080153 by sghyde, on Flickr

and I was rewarded.

P1080155 by sghyde, on Flickr

P1080162 by sghyde, on Flickr

At Crossacres 3077 appears outbound. Some of these shots at Crossacres have suffered a bit from the sun and wet conditions.

P1080168 by sghyde, on Flickr

P1080175 by sghyde, on Flickr

then 3068 appears heading for Cornbook.

P1080179 by sghyde, on Flickr

P1080184 by sghyde, on Flickr

Now off onto Hollyhedge Road as I had seen nothing was due for 20 minutes or so in either direction.

P1080187 by sghyde, on Flickr

P1080191 by sghyde, on Flickr

Having reached the junction with Greenwood Road I waited for over 15 minutes for an inbound tram to appear.

P1080193 by sghyde, on Flickr

All sorts of road vehicles tried their best to obscure it.

url=https://flic.kr/p/pKi7Uh]
[/url]P1080195 by sghyde, on Flickr

P1080199 by sghyde, on Flickr

Up at Martinscroft trams were due in both directions. Notice all the cones on the platform were over on their sides.

P1080203 by sghyde, on Flickr

The driver and a colleague decided to put this right

P1080206 by sghyde, on Flickr

before setting off for the Airport.

P1080207 by sghyde, on Flickr

P1080218 by sghyde, on Flickr

Still able to walk (just about!) I carried on to Altrincham Road.

Via Roundthorn

where we see 3068 leaving Baguley.

P1080227 by sghyde, on Flickr

P1080231 by sghyde, on Flickr

and heading off up Hollyhedge Road.

P1080238 by sghyde, on Flickr

Now at Baguley I spotted 3082 in Roundthorn.

P1080240 by sghyde, on Flickr

Notice the wave from the driver's mate!

P1080245 by sghyde, on Flickr

Another bit of luck here still at Baguley.

P1080248 by sghyde, on Flickr

P1080252 by sghyde, on Flickr

P1080256 by sghyde, on Flickr

Finally on to Altrincham Road junction where traffic makes photography rather difficult.

P1080258 by sghyde, on Flickr

P1080259 by sghyde, on Flickr

P1080266 by sghyde, on Flickr

P1080267 by sghyde, on Flickr

faced with a walk to catch the bus now, I decided to call it a day and head for home. But that's only just over half the route.
 

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Metrolink Map Evolution.

Metrolink opened in 1992, and since then it has expanded four-fold. The network has been a huge success, carrying nearly 60 million people a year: making it the UK's second-largest mass-transit system. It is also the UK's largest light rail network, with nearly 100 stations.
When the line to the Airport opens on November 3rd, it'll mark the completion of the Phase 3 expansions. Generally, 1 phase of expansion takes place every decade, but Phase 3 has been by far the largest phase: more than trebling the network size.

I've developed this compendium of Metrolink maps: mainly showing new expansions but also changes in styles and corporate colours of the network, as well as changes in station names and closures of stations and opening of others. It's a fascinating journey if you're interested in this sort of thing, which I am.




1992

We start in 1992, when two suburban railway lines were closed for nearly a year and converted to Metro operation. New rolling stock, as well as redeveloped stations and electrified rails, lead to the creation of Metrolink. The new lines - to Bury in the north and Altrincham in the south - were linked via 1 mile of track through Manchester city centre - from Victoria to GMEX, with a delta leading to Manchester's main railway station at Piccadilly:








1999

In 1999, Metrolink opened to the new Salford Quays regeneration zone. Salford Quays had originally been the Manchester Docks, but in the 1980s it was reclaimed as Salford Quays and by the new millenium it was seeing development of new apartments, offices, a large new leisure and shopping destination, and a theatre/cinema complex. In order to promote easy interchange between the Altrincham and Salford Quays lines, a new station opened at Cornbrook.

High St station, which closed in 1998, is now no longer on the map. Instead, Market St became a bi-directional station.









2000

The new millenium saw Phase 2b of the Metrolink open: in the form of an extension of the Broadway/Salford Quays line to Eccles:







2002

Shudehill transport interchange opened, necessitating a new station there in the City Zone:









2008

In 2008, after 16 years, Metrolink adopted a new colour scheme. Blue, green and turqouise was replaced by yellow, silver and brown and news came out that Metrolink had been given 1.5bn pounds to extend the network. Phase 3a had begun. Shudehill station replaces High St, and also has a bus terminal attached.









2010

Construction began on Phase 3a in 2009, but by September 2010 the first Metrolink extension in 10 years opened: a small spur to MediaCity. This map replaces the new map seen in 2008, which was quickly seen as a big mistake because it doesn't highlight the fact that you can't get from, say, Market St to destinations on the Eccles line direct - you'd have to change. The 2008 map quickly started confusing people and tourists. This map introduces the line colours which we're now becoming used to in Manchester - a different colour for each route. In addition, GMEX station has been renamed Deansgate-Castlefield:








July 2011

By July 2011, the first half of the South Manchester Line (SML) had opened to St Werburgh's Road, giving the network 3 new stations and about 3 new miles of track. In addition, due to increased demand, a new line to MediaCityUK was opened - but only as a shuttle to Cornbrook. However, despite the map stating that the service terminated at Cornbrook, it actually continued all the way to Piccadilly for a time afterwards. There's also a disclaimer attached to Woodlands Road station. Metrolink was in the process of obtaining permission to close Woodlands Road, however full permission wasn't granted for a further year and so the station's service was gradually numbed down to off-peak only, which is what the disclaimer states. There is also a new station at Abraham Moss, which was built down the road to replace Woodlands Road - and in future, Queens Road station would be built to replace Abraham Moss on the other side:








June 2012

The following Summer, the Purple Line was extended northwards: to Oldham. With eight new stations, as opposed to just one or three as had come before, this extension finally felt like a real "extension", if that makes sense. The disclaimer next to Oldham Mumps' station name states that this is only a temporary station: as plans were already underway to extend the tram straight into Oldham town centre.








December 2012

In Winter, the Purple Line was expanded past Oldham, to Shaw. This was the first (and last, so far) Metrolink map to feature a dashed line in anticipation of a future opening. Whilst the line terminates at Shaw, the dashed line anticipates the opening of the full line to Rochdale, which eventually opened in February 2013. In addition, this map shows the Droylsden Line - which opened at the same time.








February 2013

Metrolink expanded to just outside Rochdale Town Centre. Meanwhile, in the City Zone, Mosely Street's days are numbered: the map states it will close in Spring 2013:








October 2013

Mosely Street is now closed, but the network has expanded further eastwards from Droylsden: to Ashton Interchange. The network has also expanded past St Werburgh's Road to East Didsbury, and a message advertising the opening of a new station at Queens Road has also appeared.









January 2014

Oldham Town Centre's Metrolink line has now opened, creating three new stations on the map. New Islington: an inner city area with a Metrolink station - has now appeared inside the City Zone, marking the first time a station has been added to the number of City Zone stations since 1992, and Woodlands Road has closed for good.








March 2014, Current Map

This is the current map, as of October 2014. The Purple Line is finally complete, with the addition of one new station into Rochdale Town Centre. Also, with the beginning of massive redevelopment works at Victoria station, the Metrolink station there has been forced to close for 9/10 months. This means no trams are calling at Victoria, but it also means that the number of services through the station is restricted, forcing the Blue Line to terminate at Abraham Moss temporarily - this also means that the Ashton Line has reverted from being blue, to being Pink (an extension of the Eccles Line). With this temporary closure, there are also no services between Victoria and Piccadilly - meaning the delta triangle at Piccadilly doesn't appear:








November 2014

We've reached the end of the journey - however on November 3rd, the Metrolink will be extended yet again: this time to the Airport. They're currently finishing off the line, installing ticket machines, escalators, etc - it's going to open a year early too, which is amazing. The line colour is Navy Blue. The Altrincham line has also been altered on this map, with the gaps between the stations increased and a small "flick" added to the end of it to balance the map out. For the first time since this version of the map was released, the City Zone is no longer a circle: but a weirder shape. I'm not sure why this is necessitated, but I don't really like it:





Hope you enjoyed the journey! :banana:
 

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November 2014

We've reached the end of the journey - however on November 3rd, the Metrolink will be extended yet again: this time to the Airport. They're currently finishing off the line, installing ticket machines, escalators, etc - it's going to open a year early too, which is amazing. The line colour is Navy Blue. The Altrincham line has also been altered on this map, with the gaps between the stations increased and a small "flick" added to the end of it to balance the map out. For the first time since this version of the map was released, the City Zone is no longer a circle: but a weirder shape. I'm not sure why this is necessitated, but I don't really like it:





Hope you enjoyed the journey! :banana:
Great post. I enjoyed reading all of it.

A question on the basic set-up of the network though:
I notice 4.5 branches to the south and 3 to the north with one line having to go from a northern branch to another northern branch. This hardly seems optimal. I realize it's all about how the city is built, where people live and work, but are there any plans to create another branch to the north to even it all out or a second line through the city center so the branches can get more trains per hour?
 

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Hi Swede there is already a heavy rail service to the area west of Bury through Bolton and Wigan, construction work has just started on a 2nd city crossing from Victoria to St Peters Square.
 

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Swede there is a plan for a second line through the City Centre but only about half the "City Centre Section" will be "dualled" (St Peters Sq to Victoria) so there will still be a "bottleneck" from Cornbrook to St Peters Square

As for another Northern Line there is no plan. There IS a plan to build another Southern line to the Trafford Centre which would branch off at Pomona and slot between the Brown/Pink lines and the Green/Yellow lines (heading to the left on the diagram)

The only other 'line' up for consideration is the Marple Tram-Train line which would spur out from Piccadilly (below the Pink line on the right) potential as an extension of the Yellow line which currently terminates at Piccadilly

 

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Haha! so the new tracks through the city center don't even go all the way through? :)
I assume the long-term plan is to stretch that new bit out past St. Peter's Square and connect it to. say, Cornbrook? That way there would be two fully separate lines through the city center. Add a loop somehow for two of the branches on the left of the map and you'd get a system with the same number of branches on both sides of the core of the city and at least two separate tracks/lines through the core.
 

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Richard
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Haha! so the new tracks through the city center don't even go all the way through? :)
They go through the entire part that is on-road; from St. Peter's Square onward the line is on a separated right of way and therefore has more capacity than the area bounded by Victoria, Piccadilly and St. Peter's Square.

There isn't physically space to run more tracks between St. Peter's Square and Deansgate-Castlefield, so any such line would need to be a different routing (and would have to bypass the Deansgate-Castlefield station). There are several such proposals, but there's no indication that this is currently a priority for Transport for Greater Manchester.
 

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This is what it like Geographically to give you an idea

Without the new Second City Crossing



With SSC zoomed in

 
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Haha! so the new tracks through the city center don't even go all the way through? :)
I assume the long-term plan is to stretch that new bit out past St. Peter's Square and connect it to. say, Cornbrook? That way there would be two fully separate lines through the city center. Add a loop somehow for two of the branches on the left of the map and you'd get a system with the same number of branches on both sides of the core of the city and at least two separate tracks/lines through the core.
As po8crg says after leaving St Peters Square there is something of a bottleneck to Deansgate Castlefield where a new 3 track layout is being constructed. Then there is another constricted section between Deansgate Castlefield and Cornbrook. Here although there are 2 parallel steel viaducts followed by a single 4 track brick arch viaduct only one of the steel structures is currently in any fit state to carry rail traffic and almost the whole width of the brick structure is taken by the 3 track running lines and reversing layout followed by the stop at Cornbrook with its wide island platform. This means that to construct an additional set of running lines a major refurbishment of the disused steel structure plus a new concrete viaduct to Cornbrook would be needed unless a totally new route into the city can be found.
 
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