Phase 3 of the Manchester Metrolink expansion is now open, making it the largest light rail system in the UK.
The 1.3km long expansion has been delivered by MPT, a consortium of Laing O’Rourke, VolkerRail and Thales.
The ‘Second City Crossing’ goes through the middle of Manchester city centre and takes the length of the line to over 97km. The new section runs from the transformed Deansgate-Castlefield stop to a major new stop at St Peter’s Square along Cross Street to stops at Exchange Square and Victoria.
Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) which owns the Metrolink network said that the new link would offer new links and more frequent trams through Manchester city centre, as well as improved service reliability and greater operational flexibility.
MPT director Bryan Glass said: “For the past eight and a half years, the MPT team has worked closely with TfGM to deliver the expansion of the Metrolink network, and we’re proud to have completed the latest phase of this vital transport artery for Manchester.
“We’re particularly proud that many passers-by took the time to compliment us on the quality of the works we’ve delivered. Everyone in the team has had to work in a very exposed city centre environment and they’ve done a fabulous job.”
The Second City Crossing is part of project ‘Grow’, a £1bn investment into city centre infrastructure by Manchester City Council, which is seeing major investment into city centre infrastructure, including bus priority measures, six new and better cycle routes into the city centre and major rail improvements.
The first phase of the Second City Crossing opened from Victoria through to a new stop at Exchange Square in December 2015. The project was able to be fast-tracked thanks to the European Regional Development Fund.
The project is also opening ahead of schedule despite obstacles thrown up by the city’s Victorian infrastructure.
Construction work is now under way on a new Metrolink line through Trafford Park to the Trafford Centre.