13 October 2014

Launch date set for trams to Manchester Airport

Services on Metrolink’s new line to Manchester Airport will open to passengers on Monday 3 November – well over 12 months ahead of schedule.

The final stage of a thorough pre-launch process will start on Monday 20 October when test trams will start to run out of service between Cornbrook and the airport every 12 minutes – which is how often trams will run on the line from launch.

This will bring changes to first and last trams across the network and passengers are advised to check the Metrolink website from Monday (20 October) to see if and how their first or last services are changing.

Trams from the airport will run as far as Cornbrook initially, until Metrolink’s transformational Second City Crossing opens in 2017 and unlocks extra track capacity through the city centre.

Journeys from the Airport to Cornbrook, where passengers can connect with frequent services to stops across the network, will take around 45 minutes and will effectively double the number of trams running between St Werburgh’s Road and Cornbrook.

A driver’s eye view of the journey from Cornbrook (speeded up to take just 2.5 minutes) is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFxOjHgEgPo

A 300-space park and ride facility – free for Metrolink passengers to use – will open at the Sale Water Park stop, conveniently located just off Junction 6 of the M60.

The 14.5km Airport line will bring the size of the Metrolink network – owned by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) – to 92.5km (57.5 miles), serving 92 stops.

Footage of the M60 bridge installation – one of several major structures created for the new line – is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upeuM97TVRw

Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of the TfGM Committee, said: “Seeing our trams reach Manchester Airport more than a year ahead of schedule is a truly amazing achievement – and a game-changer for the communities set to benefit from its 15 new stops and frequent, fully accessible services.

“For Wythenshawe in particular, Metrolink will provide new and easier ways for people across Greater Manchester to reach the town centre and all it has to offer – as well as making it a more attractive place to live, work and do business.

“The arrival of the new town centre interchange next year will, of course, make it even easier still.

“For people already living along the line, it will provide new ways of getting to work, leisure, health and education opportunities.

“Because of that, it’s going to be a catalyst for great change and growth, and I am truly delighted we’ve been able to start that process so much earlier than we expected when we first started this very ambitious and challenging project.”

Councillor Jeff Smith, Manchester City Council's executive member for housing and regeneration, said: "This new line will play a vital role in supporting the ongoing regeneration of Wythenshawe as well as making it easier for residents to access jobs and services at the airport and across Greater Manchester.

“The fact it’s opening a year earlier than originally planned is fantastic news for residents and businesses in Wythenshawe.”

Andrew Cowan, Chief Operating Officer at Manchester Airports Group (MAG), said: "Manchester Airport has seen considerable investment made in its ground transport options and the Metrolink will be an important addition to our services, bringing the airport and important projects such as Airport City closer to thousands of residents across Greater Manchester.

"Our passenger numbers are rising and we are adding more routes to exciting destinations such as Hong Kong and with growth of this scale comes opportunity and the Metrolink extension will be an important part in connecting people to the airport."

Chris Coleman, Managing Director of Metrolink RATP Dev Ltd which operates the network on behalf of TfGM, added: “The new line to Manchester Airport is one of the longest extensions to the Metrolink network we’ve opened at any given time and as an operator this has been an extremely exciting and challenging undertaking for us.

“From the training of 300 employees – made up of network controllers, drivers and customer service representatives – to the testing and commissioning of the new infrastructure by our expert engineers, the project has been a significant achievement for us and one which we have been extremely proud to deliver.

“We also have worked in partnership with Wythenshawe Community Housing Group and the Jobcentre Plus to recruit locally in the area so the customer service representatives you will see out on the new lines have local knowledge.  This, we believe, will provide customers with an improved experience while travelling on the system.

“The opening of this latest extension to the network marks an important milestone in Metrolink’s history and cements Greater Manchester’s position as a leader in public transport.”

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