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Manchester Airport tram extension to open 18 months early

The Manchester Metrolink extension to Wythenshawe and Manchester Airport will launch before the end of this year – nearly 18 months ahead of the original schedule.

Test trams will start running as soon as Monday (23 June), Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) said.

C3753 DSC7648 LR

The £400m, 14.5km route with 15 new stops, delivered by the MPT consortium of Laing O’Rourke, VolkerRail and Thales UK, is “one of the biggest live civil engineering projects in the country”, including a new viaduct, two major bridges, the Ringway Road dual carriageway and underpass at Manchester Airport, and 28 new or modernised tram/highway junctions, including major remodelling work at Wythenshawe town centre.

Airport line overview enlarged May 2013 (no key)

MPT Project Director Bryan Glass said: “Our team has demonstrated the skills, professionalism and dedication that are increasingly required in British engineering and major project delivery.

“A planned and strategic approach, applying the latest methodology such as offsite manufacturing of major components, allowed us to make significant savings without compromising safety or quality. There’s a huge amount of pride in us all, knowing the first trams will shortly commence testing, eventually forming this new transport artery for Manchester.”

Services will initially run between Manchester Airport and Cornbrook, every 12 minutes, but will start to run through the city centre once the Second City Crossing is complete in 2017.

Cllr Andrew Fender, chair of the TfGM Committee, said: “The sheer scale of the challenges this project presented make its early completion a truly phenomenal achievement.

“To be so far ahead is down to several marginal gains adding up to a significant result: the early delivery of a number of lines allowed us to move resources onto the line earlier; lessons learnt during the early phases of the expansion drove efficiencies across work areas; creating a desktop simulator cut the timescales for driver training in half.

“These are just a few examples of how, by working closely with local authorities, utility firms, our principal contractor MPT, stakeholders and the operator MRDL, we’ve become an ultra-efficient machine – and this is our collective reward.”

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, called it a “tremendous boost”, a sentiment echoed by Andrew Cowan, chief operating officer for Manchester Airports Group (MAG).

The Airport line will bring the size of the Metrolink network to 92.5km (57.5 miles), serving 92 stops. Nine of the new M5000 trams will serve the new route.

Construction has just begun on the Wythenshawe bus and tram interchange, designed by Aedas Architects and being built by Kier Construction (pictured top and below).


Transport minister Baroness Kramer visited Manchester yesterday (19 June) to find out more about the Metrolink expansion works, and said: “I appreciated the opportunity to see the newly expanded Metrolink and hear about TfGM's plans for the future.

"Improved transport links have been vital to developments in Greater Manchester. We are committed to supporting local transport across the UK. It is crucial in helping economic growth and enhancing the environment."

TfGM’s took the chance to make the case for its planned new £350m Metrolink line to Trafford Park, soon to be the subject of a public consultation.

Baroness Kramer visits Greater Manchester 2


Nonsuchmike   20/06/2014 at 18:01

Gone are the days when you could drive up to the main Airport terminal building, park your car immediately outside without locking it, pop in for a leisurely coffee and then drive away without paying any parking charge as one did in 1965. Congratulations to the foresight of the City fathers in Manchester as well as to the engineers who carried out the provision and building of the new extension within budget and early. Now would be a good time for me to forgive you for the "temporary" diversions around Oldham nearly 50 years ago which seemed to go on for decades! If Manchester can do this, why can't other major cities/conurbations in the UK? Surely, where there's a will ......... .

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