Metrolink and the environment

The Metrolink network provides a fast, reliable and attractive form of public transport in Greater Manchester. The Metrolink operator, KeolisAmey Metrolink (KAM), takes its environmental responsibilities very seriously and strives to reduce Metrolink's environmental impacts on a day to day basis. Trams have priorities over traffic junctions, and encourage people to leave their cars at home to help to cut congestion on our roads. Each tram can carry over 200 passengers – equal to nearly three double-decker buses, and uses far less fuel per passenger than cars or buses.


Sustainable travel

Trams are a sustainable method of travel that encourages cleaner, greener and healthier towns and cities. They are lightweight compared to conventional trains and therefore have a potentially lower energy use. Trams are powered by electricity from overhead cables, powered by remote power stations, which means they emit no local air pollution and therefore helping to improve air quality and noise levels in the towns and cities where they operate. Emissions from power stations are regulated separately. An energy efficient power saving feature know as 'regenerative braking' which feeds back the electricity generated when braking into the overhead power cables, is present on all trams on the network.


Green energy

In July 2007, Metrolink became the first tram network in the UK where traction current is supplied entirely through green energy - specifically large scale hydropower, with partners Scottish and Southern Energy.


Climate change and carbon footprint

In Greater Manchester, the Metrolink is the most carbon efficient mode of motorised travel. Walking and cycling are considered to be carbon neutral modes. Generally, public transport produces far less climate change emissions per passenger journey than an equivalent journey by car. By encouraging modal shift, Transport for Greater Manchester can contribute to reducing carbon emissions by increasing the use of public transport, and passengers benefit from better city centre accessibility, journey comport, higher service frequencies, faster journey times and potentially lower fares.

Metrolink provide energy consumption data for the annual Transport for Greater Manchester carbon footprint. The operations of Metrolink require the use of energy such as natural gas, electricity and diesel. The operations include tram traction current, tram stop lighting, gas for heating and cooking at depots, electricity use at depots, and fleet fuel, amongst others. Metrolink emissions account for around 20% of Transport for Greater Manchester carbon footprint in 2009/10, of which over 72% was due to tram traction current. The tonnes of CO2e produced by Metrolink in 2009/10 were nearly 16% less than the previous period, delivered through the KeolisAmey Metrolink (KAM) Carbon Management Plan but also operational changes such as blockades for maintenance and enhancing the network.


Environmental management system ISO14001

As part of it's commitment to the environment, KeolisAmey Metrolink (KAM) has achieved external certification to the internationally recognised ISO14001:2004 Environmental Management System (EMS) in 2009 by NQA. The EMS has been designed to reflect the objectives and targets within the Environmental Policy (Certificate) and demonstrates the commitment to prevention of pollution and continual improvement. ISO14001:2004 helped to measure the environmental risks and sets out how to manage them.

Many improvements to procedures and processes were made during the implementation of ISO14001:2004 at the Metrolink facilities, in line with environmental legislation and the requirements of the standard. Significant developments were made to upgrade chemical and oil storage facilities, delivery of staff environmental awareness and emergency response training, waste management and document control and record keeping. The resulting system has proven to be effective at managing pollution prevention, compliance with legislation and continual improvement.

Further work in this area includes projects for reductions in energy use within the KeolisAmey Metrolink (KAM) Carbon Management Plan. Keys areas include improvements to data capture to enable development of key performance indicators and audits. The EMS will evolve to include the new sections of the network when these become operational.



Commitment to biodiversity can be viewed on the main Transport for Greater Manchester website:


Vegetation management

The Metrolink network covers 37km through both urban and green areas. There is, therefore, a direct connection between Metrolink and the environment. KeolisAmey Metrolink (KAM) Metrolink actively manage the vegetation along the trams lines. KeolisAmey Metrolink (KAM) use an experienced weed control and vegetation clearance specialist to sensitively manage the areas along the track so not to interfere with the efficiency of the trams. The management involves the control and eradication of Japanese knotweed found at one of the sites.



KeolisAmey Metrolink (KAM) with support from Transport for Greater Manchester are working to reduce waste production and energy consumption, and are undertaking a number of initiatives. 

Energy programme

The Metrolink operator, KeolisAmey Metrolink (KAM), have initiated a Carbon Management Programme to establish, monitor, manage and improve the energy usage across the operations and are committed making improvements.


Eradicating Japanese Knotweed

Japanese knotweed is considered to be an invasive weed species which commonly colonises roadsides and waste land. It forms thick, dense colonies that completely crowd out any other plants. It has an invasive root system and with its strong growth has the capabilities to damage foundations, buildings, flood defences, roads, paving, retaining walls and architectural sites. The plant is also resilient to cutting by vigorously re-sprouting from the roots. The most effective method of control is by herbicide application close to the flowering stage in late summer or autumn. A programme of removal was initiated on an embankment at a tram maintenance depot in Manchester on the Bury line where Japanese knotweed was discovered during an audit. A lengthy removal project resulted in complete eradication of the species and the site returned back to normal.


Recycling ticket machines

The Metrolink network has recently been upgraded and rebranded. New state-of-the-art ticket machines have been installed across the network, with improvements with language selection and a number of payment options. Nearly one hundred old machines were removed by a local company between February 2010 and August 2010, and every individual component of the old ticket machines have been recycled. Waste company Weeecycle Ltd, carefully separated all the individual machine parts such as fluorescent tubes, wires, steel, aluminium, batteries, circuit boards and plastics for reuse and recycling. Nothing has been disposed of to landfill or incineration.



Passengers who travel on Metrolink are encouraged to reuse their copy of the Metro newspaper, by neatly folding up their paper and placing it on a seat for another passenger to read. This helps to reduce the amount of paper being discarded on the floors assisting the carriages to look tidier and reducing the amount of waste generated. An information poster is displayed in many of the carriages to encourage more passengers to follow suit.


English Common Law on Trees

Some properties along the Metrolink network might be affected by branches of larger trees over-hanging onto their land.  In line with English Common Law on Trees, these branches can be cut back to the boundary fence if residents wish to do so.  Any falling leaves and fruit are considered uncontrollable and seasonal and owners of these trees are under no obligation to clear these.

If any member of public feels at any time that a tree poses a danger please contact Metrolink Customer Service on 0161 205 2000.


Questions and Contacts

If you have any questions regarding Metrolink and the Environment then please get in touch here