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A new zonal fares system is being introduced on Metrolink in early 2019.

It will replace the existing system with an easy to understand zonal system – similar to London’s travel network, offering simpler, more flexible and better value fares.


The current system

The current approach has evolved as the network has expanded.

Metrolink fares are calculated on a stop-to-stop basis between the 93 stops on the network, with the network divided into 18 fare bands.

As a result, there are over 8,500 fare combinations per ticket type (single, peak return, off-peak return etc) and customers can only travel between the two locations specified on their ticket.


Why is a change being made?

It is an important step toward delivering the long-term objectives for fares and ticketing as set out in the Greater Manchester 2040 Transport Strategy. It will make using Metrolink simpler, more convenient and better value for money.

It will also help to pave the way for a more integrated ticketing system for Greater Manchester that allows people to travel seamlessly between modes, and it will offer the freedom to enjoy more journeys for the same price.


Zonal fares in detail

Zonal fare systems are widely used on light rail networks both in the UK (eg London) and globally. They allow unrestricted travel within the zone(s) a ticket has been purchased for, which means more flexibility for customers.

Under the new system four ringed zones will be introduced on Metrolink.

The zones have been determined based on the same factors used to design the current system. These include the distance and time taken to travel, and a number of local factors which have been taken into account as the network has expanded.

Fare zones are therefore an evolution of the current system. This means that when the system is changed it should not significantly affect capacity or the ability to fund itself without public subsidy.

View a map of the zones below:
Illustrative zonal map

View a geographic map of the zones.

Fares will be calculated based on the number of zones you travel in, with each zone only counted once.

For example:
- A journey from Manchester Airport to Bury will be charged as a four zone fare.
- A 7 Day Zone 1 + Zone 2 ticket will allow you unlimited travel within Zone 1 and Zone 2 for 7 days.

Return fares (peak and off-peak) will be replaced by daily travel cards allowing unlimited travel within the selected zones. This will make daily travel more convenient and will offer the flexibility to enjoy more journeys for the same price.

Some stops will be located on the boundary between two zones eg Stretford on the Altrincham Line. These stops are included in the zone which will give the lower fare to the customer dependent on the direction of travel. For example:
- A journey from Stretford to Sale will be calculated as a Zone 3 fare.
- A journey from Stretford to Piccadilly will be calculated as a Zone 1 + Zone 2 fare.

Customers will be able to use all existing and future ticketing and payment options to travel, including contactless, get me there (app and smart card) and paper tickets.

Fare zones will not affect the current rail ticket add-on.


How does this affect fares?

The majority of zonal fares will be set to the lowest current prices. Therefore, most customers will not pay more than the pre-planned increases for early 2019, with many tickets providing better value for money as a result. For example, the price of the network wide peak daily travel-card will be reduced from £7.60 to £7.00.

The new system will set fares for travel within any single zone at the same price. This means that fares in the current City Zone area of the network will increase to be consistent with other similar fares across Greater Manchester.

The new prices are below:

Any single zone (1, 2, 3 or 4)

  • Single: £1.40
  • Daily travelcard (peak): £2.60
  • Daily travelcard (off-peak): £1.80
  • 7-day: £10.20
  • 28-day: £35.00
  • Annual: £400.00

Two zones (1+2)

  • Single: £2.80
  • Daily travelcard (peak): £4.20
  • Daily travelcard (off-peak): £3.40
  • 7-day: £17.00
  • 28-day: £58.00
  • Annual: £650.00

Two zones (2+3 or 3+4)

  • Single: £2.40
  • Daily travelcard (peak): £3.40
  • Daily travelcard (off-peak): £3.00
  • 7-day: £14.80
  • 28-day: £50.00
  • Annual: £570.00

Three zones (1+2+3)

  • Single: £4.00
  • Daily travelcard (peak): £6.20
  • Daily travelcard (off-peak): £4.20
  • 7-day: £24.60
  • 28-day: £81.00
  • Annual: £930.00

Three zones (2+3+4)

  • Single: £3.20
  • Daily travelcard (peak): £4.60
  • Daily travelcard (off-peak): £3.80
  • 7-day: £19.80
  • 28-day: £67.00
  • Annual: £740.00

All zones (1+2+3+4)

  • Single: £4.60
  • Daily travelcard (peak): £7.00
  • Daily travelcard (off-peak): £4.80
  • 7-day: £30.00
  • 28-day: £98.00
  • Annual: £1,110.00

Other ticket options

  • Child and concessionary fares would be set at half the equivalent adult fare
  • Family ‘All zones’ travelcard would become £7.10 (off-peak) and £9.20 (weekend)
  • Weekend ‘All zones’ travelcard would become £6.60

View the prices as a table.


Find out more

Still searching for answers? Try one of the following links for more information:
Frequently asked questions
Report to the GMCA on introducing zonal fares
Report to the GMCA with results of the public engagement exercise
Press release


Contact us

If you have any questions, please email email: customer.relations@tfgm.com or call 0161 244 1000.