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Press releases

15 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 tram testing will commence on 20 October.  In public service, airport trams will services will operate as far as the Cornbrook interchange, until Metrolink’s transformational Second City Crossing opens in 2017 and unlocks extra track capacity through the city centre.

The new route has been delivered by MPT – a joint venture of Laing O’Rourke, VolkerRail and Thales, and marks the latest success in a major transformation of the Manchester Metrolink network.  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.

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. 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.”

Andrew Cowan, chief operating officer at Manchester Airports Group (MAG), said: "Manchester Airport has seen considerable investment made in its ground transport options and the Metrolink will be an important addition to our services, bringing the airport and important projects such as Airport City closer to thousands of residents across Greater Manchester. Our passenger numbers are rising and we are adding more routes to exciting destinations such as Hong Kong and with growth of this scale comes opportunity and the Metrolink extension will be an important part in connecting people to the airport."

The vast and varied nature of the construction of the new Line has also visibly demonstrated the UK’s technical and engineering excellence. Major infrastructure for the new line, such as the bridges over the M56 and M60 motorways, and new tram stops and supporting systems and facilities, were delivered by MPT employing specialist engineering expertise in a collaborative engagement process with all stakeholders along the route, whilst utilising offsite manufacturing techniques to help minimise the impact on local communities.

Footage of the M60 bridge installation is available here:

“Technical design and delivery of the new Airport Line has placed the most modern construction technology right in the heart of the community,” said Bryan Glass, project director, MPT. “We’ve developed a close and productive working relationship between our delivery teams and TfGM, and the residents and businesses along the line, and I’d like to thank everyone concerned for their patience and understanding while the work was in progress. To see the line open a year earlier than planned is a very proud moment for our team.”

The Airport line in numbers

  • 14.5 = total length of the line (in kilometres)
  • 59.5 = total length of rail installed (in kilometres)
  • 15 = number of stops: Barlow Moor Road, Sale Water Park, Northern Moor, Wythenshawe Park, Moor Road, Baguley, Roundthorn, Martinscroft, Benchill, Crossacres, Wythenshawe Town Centre, Robinswood Road, Peel Hall, Shadowmoss and Manchester Airport
  • 300 = number of Park and Ride spaces at Sale Water Park
  • 34 = number of ticket vending machines
  • 30 = number of customer help points
  • 9 = number of trams required for service
  • 122 = number of CCTV cameras across the route
  • 677 = number of overhead power line poles
  • 28 = number of new or modernised tramway/highway junctions installed (including major remodelling work at Wythenshawe town centre)

A driver’s eye view of the journey from Cornbrook to Manchester Airport, speeded up to take just 2.5 minutes, is available here:

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