14 September 2016
Metrolink Second City Crossing on track as final rails are laid in the city
Main construction works on a
new Metrolink line through the heart of Manchester city centre are expected to
finish before Christmas, with the final rails now laid.
The Second City
Crossing, due to open next year, will allow more frequent, reliable and
flexible services to run on the busy tram network, which now hosts more than 35
million journeys a year.
Transport for Greater
Manchester (TfGM) opened the first phase of the route, from Victoria Station
through to a new stop at Exchange Square, in December 2015, fast-tracked thanks
to a grant from the European Regional Development Fund.
All major civil engineering
works – including installing overhead lines to power the trams along the route
– are expected to be completed by the end of the year.
It means the city will be free
of Metrolink construction work in time for the busy festive period, when
Manchester City Council’s Christmas markets attract millions of visitors to the
Despite the city’s Victorian
infrastructure throwing up several unforeseen and major construction challenges
– including a collapsed Victorian sewer, and double the number of anticipated
exhumations following the discovery of a former church graveyard on Cross
Street – the Second City Crossing is expected to open once testing is complete in the new year.
Due to the potential delays,
TfGM had been expecting completion to be affected. However contractor M-Pact
Thales (MPT) worked closely with utility companies and TfGM to ensure the line
is finished on target, through collaborative
management and mitigation of the construction work.
A thorough testing and
commissioning programme will resume in early 2017 before the first passenger
services can launch.
Councillor Andrew Fender,
Chair of the TfGM Committee, said: “It’s great to see these final sections of
rail laid, one of the final jigsaw pieces in the puzzle.
“With some infrastructure
still dating back to the Victorians, building through a busy city has not been
an easy task. The scale of the venture has been impressive and, while there has
been inevitable disruption, we’re close to the finish line and to customers,
residents and businesses reaping the benefits.
“Since the Second City
Crossing programme began we’ve seen a huge increase in Metrolink use across the
network, from 27 to 35 million passenger journeys a year. The need for a new
line through the city has never been more pressing.
“To make room for more
customers we’ve also opened a new tram stop in Exchange Square and competed
major rebuilds of a further four city centre tram stops.
“This major overhaul will mean
we can continue supporting the demand to travel from workers, residents and
visitors to our ever-growing city – connecting people with jobs, days out,
family and friends.”
MPT has been at the heart of
the huge expansion to Manchester’s Metrolink network since the project began in
2008. Peter Jones, MPT Project Director, said: “Over the past eight years of
partnership with TfGM, we’ve built 58 new tram stops and more than 60km of new
“Reaching this milestone is a
measure of our teams’ tenacity and we will work together to ensure the opening
is achieved early next year.”
The Second City Crossing is
part of the transformational Grow project, which is seeing more than £1 billion
invested into Manchester city centre infrastructure improvements by 2017,
including bus priority measures, six new and improved cycleways and major rail
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