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Greater Manchester Metrolink
(phase 1) Bury via Manchester to Altrincham, Greater Manchester, UK
associated engineer
Greater Manchester Metrolink Ltd
W.S. Atkins
date  1989 - 1992, 1999 - 2000
era  Modern  |  category  Tramway/Funicular  |  reference  SJ838979
ICE reference number  HEW 1891
Greater Manchester's Metrolink is an above-ground hybrid tramway system. Its route is designed to connect the various railway lines in the city and it uses both street tramtracks and and existing railway tracks to achieve this. The concept required design innovations for both infrastructure and vehicles.
From Bury into Manchester Victoria Station, the Metrolink line runs along 15.9km of former British Rail double track. This section opened on 6th April 1992. From Manchester Victoria to Windmill Street a double-track tramline runs for 1.4km, and this section opened on 27th April 1992.
The double track tramline continues for 1.7km to Warrington, passing over a new reinforced concrete viaduct alongside Lower Mosley Street, a steel bowstring arch bridge over Great Bridgewater Street and Cornbrook Viaduct, and through a new underpass under the railway mainline. The Metrolink then runs on 10.4km of former British Rail track between Cornbrook Junction and Altrincham. The full 12.1km of this section opened on 15th June 1992.
To complete phase one of the Metrolink line, a branch of double track tramway was laid to the undercroft at Manchester Piccadilly Station, and this opened on 20th July 1992.
One of the challenges faced is that tram rails were no longer made in Britain Manchester's last tram ran before 1950. Consequently, the 59kg/m grooved rails were imported from Luxembourg. They are laid on a concrete base levelled using an elastomeric polymer with a road surface of mastic asphalt, granite setts or concrete blocks.
The 750V direct current for the tramline is supplied by overhead wires, from 11 substations fed by the public electricity supply. Manchester's traffic lights are modified to give priority to the trams. The first two railway lines adopted for conversion to Metrolink were the routes to Bury and Altrincham. These used 1,200V direct current conductor rails until 16th August 1991 (Bury) and 25kV alternating current from overhead wires until 24th December 1991 (Altrincham).
There are 25 stops on the phase one route that uses old railway lines/stations and work was done to make the platforms suitable. Platform levels were raised to 915mm above the rails and the gap between tram and platform reduced to 75mm. Lifts and 1:20 access ramps have been installed.
The original 26 Italian trams consist of two cars on three bogies. The central bogie has a turntable incorporated in it which allows the tram to negotiate curved track. The trams are 29m long and 2.65m wide, and can be coupled to create longer vehicles. Top speeds are 48km per hour (30mph) in the streets and 80km per hour (50mph) in fenced reservations.
Dual-aspect signalling controlled by track circuits with transponders prevents trams from passing danger signals. Radio communication is used throughout with 'leaky' feeder wires in tunnels. Closed circuit television and public address systems are used at the unmanned stations and stops. The control office, workshops and sidings are located 2.2km north of Manchester Victoria Station.
Metrolink Phase 2, from Cornbrook via Salford Quays to Eccles, opened to Broadway on 6th December 1999 and to Eccles on 21st July 2000. There are six new trams on the route. The government has approved upgrades for phases one and two, including the addition of 12 new trams.
On 16th May 2008 work began on the 600m Phase 3A (M-Pact Thales consortium), which will double the size of the current Metrolink network. This phase encompasses conversion of the Oldham & Rochdale railway line and new routes from Manchester to Droylsden, from Trafford Bar to Chorlton and a spur on the Eccles line. There will also be 28 new trams.
The last train on the Oldham & Rochdale line ran on 3rd October 2009 and the first part of Phase 3A should open to Central Park and Chorlton in spring 2011, with completion by spring 2012.
Reserach: PD

Greater Manchester Metrolink