Councillors Andrew Fender and Pat Karney joined engineers to ride Metrolink’s new Second City Crossing and witness first-hand the rigorous testing and commissioning process.
The new route, which will connect the major new St Peter’s Square tram stop with Exchange Square and Victoria Station, is on track to open to passengers soon.
The Second City Crossing is the final piece of Metrolink’s £1.5bn ‘big bang’ expansion programme – which has seen extensions to MediaCityUK, East Didsbury, Rochdale via Oldham, Ashton and Manchester Airport – and will allow more trams to run through the city centre and across the 93-stop network.
Councillor Fender, Chair of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, said: “We’re on the home stretch now as engineers carry out the final phase of testing to check all the infrastructure and test out the tram management system on this important new route through the city.
“While the Second City Crossing is a relatively short stretch of line, it is a crucial piece in the Metrolink jigsaw – allowing us to run more trams on a more flexible and reliable tram network. That’s great news not just for the city centre, but for customers right across Greater Manchester.”
Councillor Pat Karney added: “It’s a thrill to be one of the first people to experience a journey on the new Second City Crossing. We’ve all seen the progress as the work to lay the line through the city has gone on, and to be able to see the finish line in sight is fantastic after the years of hard work.”
The Second City Crossing is part of the transformational Grow project which is seeing more than £1 billion invested into city centre infrastructure improvements, 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. Fast-tracked thanks to the European Regional Development Fund, this new line is allowing a six-minute daytime service to run between Shaw and Crompton, Oldham and the city centre from Monday to Saturdays.
The final stretch of the Second City Crossing continues along Cross Street and Princess Street through to a major new two platform stop at St Peter’s Square.
The Deansgate-Castlefield, Victoria and Market Street tram stops have all been upgraded in readiness to handle more services when the Second City Crossing opens.
A campaign is now under way to remind customers of upcoming service changes when the new line opens. A date will be announced in coming weeks.
Once the new line is open services will run on the following routes:
- Altrincham – Bury
- Altrincham – Etihad Campus
- Bury – Piccadilly
- Ashton-under-Lyne – Eccles
- MediaCityUK – Piccadilly
- Manchester Airport – Deansgate-Castlefield
- East Didsbury – Rochdale Town Centre
- East Didsbury – Shaw and Crompton
For more information on Metrolink services visit www.metrolink.co.uk, call Metrolink Customer Services on 0161 205 2000 or follow @MCRMetrolink for live travel updates.