The largest light rail network in the UK, Manchester Metrolink’s success was rooted in deep experience and built upon collaborative relationships.

Manchester Metrolink
Greater Manchester, UK
At a glance

Running on seven lines, covering (105km) 66 miles and with 99 stops, Manchester Metrolink is a vital ingredient in Greater Manchester’s transport network.

The initial Phase 3 project, secured in 2008 by a consortium formed between Laing O’Rourke, VolkerRail and Thales, was to treble the size of the system. The consortium secured further works, resulting in 12 years of continual delivery.

It’s all about experience

Laing O’Rourke and VolkerRail’s relationship began in the mid-1990s on the Midland Metrolink contract, before moving on to deliver Manchester Metrolink’s Phase 2 extension.
This synergy was a key factor in the success of the Phase 3 works. Experience was drawn on to drive continual improvements, enable innovation and embed modern methods of construction into design and delivery, including:

• Preassembly of the 580-tonne span structures for the M56 and M60 bridges
• Precast and preclad, flat-packed rail platform installed alongside an operational line
• Thousands of modular, precast platform units installed at 56 tram stops
• Flat-packed equipment rooms assembled in a few hours with a high level of quality

Lessons during the 12-year delivery period enabled the team to embed a collaborative design environment, shortening the design process while improving quality and adding certainty.

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The Trafford Park Line is a top quality addition to the Metrolink network. MPT have continuously improved throughout our 10 year programme together, making the Trafford Park Line the finest piece of infrastructure delivered by the team. Their meticulous approach and attention to detail meant they got it right first time, bringing the project in significantly ahead of schedule.

Danny Vaughan Head of Metrolink Transport for Greater Manchester

year project, over 17million working hours


raised for charity and local causes

66 km

(41 miles) of new track with 63 new modular tram stops installed

Manchester Metrolink

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With Metrolink we are once again able to demonstrate a track record of delivering major schemes on budget and ahead of schedule.

Andy Burnham Mayor of Greater Manchester

12 years of Manchester Metrolink

March 2020

Trafford Park Line (TPL) becomes operational. It was the first Metrolink line to use advanced digital engineering capabilities from start to finish. MPT handed over TPL to Transport for Greater Manchester six months ahead of programme.

February 2017

Second City Crossing works complete which sees the addition of 1.3km of track through Manchester city centre and takes the total stops to 93 across Manchester.

Phase 3 Metrolink Expansion Is Now CompleteArrow Icon

November 2014

The Manchester Airport Line is opened by Chancellor George Osbourne. The line which runs between St Werburgh's Road and Manchester Airport opened 12-months ahead of schedule. Key to its delivery was the installation of several bridges spanning the Mersey Valley, M56 and M60.

January 2014

Passenger service commences on the Oldham Rochdale line extension. This project included the successful completion of an intensive seven-day possession which enabled the connection of the new track with the current line with as little disruption as possible to the public.

May 2013

East Didsbury line commences passenger service, three months ahead of schedule. This line was built along a disused railway line, which meant there was a well-established wildlife population which was relocated to the two ponds, bog pool, four artificial badger setts, two owl boxes and over 17,000 newly planted trees.

October 2013

Passenger service commences on Droylsden to Ashton-under-Lyne line.

February 2013

Passenger service commences on Oldham and Rochdale line. This project presented one of the most significant structure challenges for the team, as they restored over 100 Victorian bridges, tunnels and retaining structures.

November 2012

The MPT team successfully installed a 580-tonne bridge over the M60. The motorway was scheduled to be closed for 24-hours and work took place over night. The team completed the installation eight hours early which meant drivers were back on the road the next day.

New Metrolink bridge moves into place over M60Arrow Icon

July 2011

South Manchester Line opens. This line was the first to utilise Laing O'Rourke's DfMA standardised solution to construct the tram platforms. The modular concrete units that formed the main platform were detailed and manufactured at Laing O'Rourke's Centre of Excellence for Modern Construction (CEMC) in Nottinghamshire.

February 2011

Construction starts on the 2.4km extension of Oldham Rochdale line. It included four new stops, one new sub-station and one reconfigured sub-station.

February 2011

Work on the second stage of the East Manchester Line begins between Droylsden and Ashton-under-Lyne, which will see the addition of four new stops and two sub stations over 4.4km of track. This part of the project saw works take place in a heavily populated area.

September 2010

Passenger service to Media City commences. Lessons learnt at final tram testing and commissioning phase was invaluable to future Metrolink projects.

December 2009

Work begins on the South Manchester Line. The route had an existing connection to the Metrolink system at Trafford Bar and most of the new 3km route was created through the conversion of a disused rail line with three stops. The team had to channel the power of experience from previous Metrolink and rail projects as there was limited access points to the line, so innovative ways of working ensured that programme remained on track.

April 2009

Work begins on Trafford Depot. This saw the remediation of a former industrial site and the implementation of a remediation strategy which saw 95% of the construction material diverted from landfill. The depot was built to house a new fleet of 120 trams.

March 2009

Work begins on Oldham and Rochdale line. The project was split into three stages and comprised of 15 new tram stops, 10 new substations, refurbishment of existing structures and 23km of ballasted track which spanned three councils.

March 2009

Construction commences on Media City line and marks the first of MPT's Metrolink projects. This line was a 0.4km spur off the existing Eccles line at Harbour City.

December 1999

Eccles line opens.

July 1997

Altram, a consortium of the Serco Group, Ansaldo and John Laing begin construction on the Eccles line.