It was reported by Place North West earlier this week that the Metrolink extension to MediaCityUK is to open on Monday next week (20th September). GMPTE’s Metrolink director Phillip Purdy is quoted saying that six trams an hour on weekdays will be calling at the new stop, between 7am and 8pm, Monday to Friday, and from 9am to 6.30pm on Saturdays.
“Trams will start to call at the new Media City UK stop from Monday as an additional stop on the existing Eccles line service.
“This will allow the new service to ‘bed in’ before the next phase of service is introduced at a later date. We’ll be putting on extra trams to make sure trams still run every 12 minutes, and journey times between Media City UK and Eccles will take a few minutes longer.
“The new service will run to Media City UK for set periods of the day. We’ll monitor services and use and will introduce the next phase of service when it’s appropriate.”
Diverting the existing Eccles service via MediaCityUK in this first phase may not be popular with passengers from stops along Eccles New Road who already find journey times to the city centre similar to those of the 33 bus which takes a more direct route. The “next phase” mentioned is likely to be the well-publicised shuttle service between Cornbrook and MediaCityUK, following which we’d expect the daytime Eccles service to revert to its original route. Evening and Sunday services to MediaCityUK are expected to operate as an additional stop in the existing Eccles-line timetable.
Despite the report, there hasn’t been any official confirmation or publicity from GMPTE or Metrolink as yet. We suspect they may be hedging their bets in case of problems arising over the weekend – over which contractors will surely be busy adding the finishing touches. Several of the new M5000 trams have already been out and about this week wearing “MediaCityUK” promotional decals. It’s likely that the renaming of G-MEX Metrolink stop to Deansgate–Castlefield will occur at the same time.
UPDATE (20/09/10, 0913): trams have been reported running to “Eccles via MediaCityUK” – looks like the new line opened on time this morning