The final piece in the Metrolink ‘big-bang’ expansion jigsaw finally falls into place this weekend when the new Second City Crossing opens on Sunday 26 February.
The line will run from the transformed Deansgate-Castlefield stop to a major new stop at St Peter’s Square along Cross Street to stops at Exchange Square and Victoria.
The new line will offer commuters new links and more frequent trams through Manchester city centre, as well as improved service reliability and greater operational flexibility. Stretching out at 1.3km long, the track will help link together the city’s vast network of 93 stops which covers over 60 miles of track and transports a record-breaking 37 million passengers a year.
The first official voyage on the Second City Crossing took place earlier this week with the Mayor of Greater Manchester and the Chair of Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), which owns the Metrolink network and has overseen the expansion works.
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Speaking at the launch, Greater Manchester Mayor, Tony Lloyd, said: “Metrolink is one of Greater Manchester’s great success stories, driving urban regeneration and now hosting some 37 million journeys a year across the city region.
“It’s testament to Greater Manchester’s drive and ability to work together that we’ve secured funding to treble the size of the tram network to become the largest in the UK. The Second City Crossing will play a key role in helping even more people get to work, shopping, leisure and culture destinations right across the 93-stop network.
“We’re now another step closer to our ambition of a world class transport network for Greater Manchester.”
Chair of the TfGM Committee, Councillor Andrew Fender, said: “Having chaired a strategy group from 1982 – which developed the Metrolink concept – I am extremely proud, 35 years later, to see the completion of the Second City Crossing, and with it our phenomenal and multi-award winning ‘Phase 3’ expansion programme.
“It’s been a remarkable journey, one I’m privileged to have seen first-hand, and my thanks goes to all those who’ve worked so hard to turn those early dreams and ambitions into a reality and who have, ultimately, delivered a world-class transport system to the people of Greater Manchester.”
The Second City Crossing is the latest step in the highly-anticipated Grow project which is overlooking major investment into city centre infrastructure improvements, including bus priority measures, six new and better cycle routes and major rail improvements. Together, these projects are set to transform Manchester into one of the country’s leading cities.
Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, welcomed the completion of work, saying: “It’s with great pleasure that we welcome the Second City Crossing after more than three years of work. Not only will it make travel through the city easier but it also takes in some of the city’s most iconic landmarks along the way.
“The new line highlights the journey of our city, how much the city has changed in such a short space of time, and represents a major milestone in Manchester’s continuing development and growth.”
The first phase of the Second City Crossing opened from Victoria through to a new stop at Exchange Square in December 2015.
From Sunday 26 February, the following services will run:
- Altrincham – Bury (via Market Street)
- Altrincham – Etihad Campus
- Ashton-under-Lyne – Eccles
- Bury – Piccadilly
- East Didsbury – Rochdale Town Centre (via Exchange Square)
- East Didsbury – Shaw and Crompton (via Exchange Square)
- Manchester Airport – Deansgate-Castlefield
- MediaCityUK – Piccadilly
Manchester Airport services will run to the city centre Deansgate-Castlefield stop for the first time and, later this year, will continue to Victoria.
More trams will run through the city centre as services that currently terminate at Deansgate-Castlefield and Exchange Square will continue across the city centre to Shaw and Crompton and East Didsbury.