A multi-million pound scheme to triple Manchester’s Metrolink tram network continues to make good progress.
In 2009, a £1.5 billion fund was agreed for 15 transport schemes to take place in Greater Manchester. The fund included improving existing Metrolink services and extending the current service to nearby towns, including Oldham and Rochdale.
The 14 mile extension to Oldham and Rochdale runs along the Central Park railway corridor in East Manchester and joins the former Oldham loop rail line between Manchester, Oldham and Rochdale. During the works a number of new Metrolink stops are being constructed, including Monsall, Central Park, Hollinwood, Derker, Newhey and Rochdale Railway Station.
In addition, brand new Park and Ride facilities are also being installed at Hollinwood and Derker, whilst existing facilities at Shaw, Crompton and Milnrow are receiving an overhaul. The improvement and expansion scheme will ensure smoother journeys, a more reliable service and access to towns not previously catered for.
Currently under construction, the Metrolink extension through Oldham town centre diverts the existing service from the Oldham Rochdale line near the Westwood business park to head north and run parallel to Featherstall Road. The route then moves east, following Middleton Road, before heading south towards Manchester Street roundabout and joining the Oldham Rochdale line at Mumps.
The Oldham extension includes four new stops – at Westwood, King Street, Union Street and Oldham Mumps – and is currently scheduled for completion in 2014.
Meanwhile, work continues on the Rochdale line, taking the service from Rochdale Railway Station along Maclure Road towards a new Metrolink stop on Smith Street. Once complete, the extension will provide a link from the Railway Station to the town centre.
As part of the work to build the new Metrolink Oldham and Rochdale lines, almost 100 bridges and structures are being refurbished.
Laing O’Rourke and VolkerRail are delivering the civil and rail infrastructure requirements of the scheme. Thales UK is providing all the electrical systems and engineering works, including power and overhead line equipment and the tram management system.
Manchester’s Metrolink network opened more than 16 years ago and provides services to key locations around the city, including MediaCityUK – the new home of the BBC. At present the busiest section of the network is the city centre track, which accommodates up to 250 trams a day however this will increase to 400 trams once the new service is fully operational.
In addition to the extensions, city centre stops at St Peter’s Square and Piccadilly Gardens are to be upgraded. The Piccadilly Gardens stop is being widened to increase the passenger capacity, whilst the stop at St Peter’s Square is being lengthened to improve access for double-length trams.
During the works Manchester City Council has granted permission for 24 hour working hours in some parts of the city centre, in order to increase progress on the scheme. However all work is being carried out in accordance with the Construction Code of Practice and will not take place between 11:30pm and 7:30am, in certain areas of the city.
For more information about Metrolink, or the latest updates to the ongoing works, please visit: www.metrolink.co.uk.