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Metrolink close to overtaking London Tramlink as third busiest in England

Major sporting events in Manchester – including the Rugby World Cup at Etihad Stadium, Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford and Manchester City and United matches – helped the city’s Metrolink hit a record number of passengers using the network in October.

But this can’t just be owed to big sporting events, given that the 92-stop light rail network attracted 31 million passengers last year, helped along by the opening of the Manchester Airport line in November 2014.

This year, the network expects to break this record with ridership figures topping 33 million.

This would be bigger than London Tramlink’s 32.3 million ridership for 2014-15 – though that network has been getting busier too, albeit not as quickly as Metrolink, and its latest figures are not out yet.

The undisputed king of England’s light rail networks is the DLR (110.2 million journeys), with the Tyne & Wear Metro in second place (38.1 million and growing fast).

Transport for Greater Manchester’s Metrolink director, Peter Cushing, acknowledged that October was an unusual month with large capacity crowds influencing the service’s numbers.

But actually, he said, this still demonstrated how Metrolink is set up to support the city as a place capable of hosting these major international events.

The figures are particularly impressive considering the amount of disruptive upgrade works going on this year, with one of its main city centre stops at St Peter’s Square being closed for works (and closed to all through-services for eight weeks over the summer, effectively splitting the network in two) and Second City Crossing works (which are currently blocking the street in front of RTM’s offices, but we more than most are happy to put up with some disruption for the sake of public transport improvements…)

The St Peter’s Square closures in the summer kicked off a 14-month construction programme that will see the stop entirely transformed, with a new and expanded footprint closer to the new Cenotaph, two island-style platforms and two sets of tracks in each direction.

But it seems Metrolink is still on top of its game regardless, with the new Exchange Square stop about to open around the corner from Manchester’s Christmas Markets and the Second City Crossing now firmly on the horizon, as well as a potential westwards extension to the giant Trafford Park industrial park and Trafford Centre shopping centre.


Duncan Stewart   21/11/2015 at 22:13

Apparently, world trams and light rail now carry more passengers than all the world's railways combined. This video gives an insight into why.

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