One of the reasons why we’ve expanded on the concept of Manchester Buses blog to include other modes of transport is simply because there are so many exciting developments taking place on the Metrolink light rail system over the next few years. Now the building work has started on the first Phase 3 extensions, we can finally see real progress made on laying rails, erecting overhead wires and building station stops – not to mention the arrival of all those shiny new trams.
Last weekend, GMPTE held a mini exhibition at the Museum of Science and Industry about Metrolink. The following lines are currently under construction and these are the latest official opening dates as on display:
- MediaCityUK: Summer 2010
- Chorlton: Spring 2011
- Oldham and Rochdale: Spring 2012
- Droylsden: Spring 2012
Trams have been spotted whilst testing on the short spur to MediaCityUK from the Eccles line, so it looks like this may open on target. Track-laying has been taking place on the line to Chorlton, which runs along the trackbed of a disused railway line, and the overhead power lines are being installed. The Chorlton line is planned to interwork with the converted railway line to Oldham and Rochdale, but this is not scheduled to open fully until the following year. In the interim, there may be a service between Chorlton and Central Park business park near Newton Heath, where an empty station has existed for some years awaiting the coming of Metrolink! The Droylsden line will run along Ashton New Road for long sections which may help explain the Spring 2012 opening date – but even here tracklaying has begun in earnest.
A future phase of construction, the so-called Phase 3b, will follow on afterwards. Official opening dates as planned:
- Didsbury: Summer 2013
- Ashton-under-Lyne: Winter 2013/2014
- Oldham and Rochdale town centres: 2014
- Manchester Airport: 2016
- A second route across Manchester city centre: 2016
All of these lines have been given the official green light apart from the second city centre crossing, which is likely to be needed to relieve congestion on the existing city centre line between G-Mex and Victoria.
The other potential extension is subject to private funding from Peel Holdings as well as planning approval, but the latest plans would see a new route leaving the Eccles line at Pomona, serving station stops at Manchester United, Imperial War Museum, Village, Parkway Circle, Lostock Parkway and the Trafford Centre – continuing onwards via Trafford Quays and Salford Reds to Peel Holdings’ proposed container handling facility at Port Salford.
Check out the “Metrolink Extension” thread on the Skyscrapercity forum for a great source of news, information and photos of the Phase 3 extensions.