Metrolink on track!

John Leech MP, Cllr Victor Chamberlain, Cllr Paul Ankers and Cllr Keith Whitmore (Chair of GMITA) at the Metrolink construction site in Chorlton

On Monday I was invited by Cllr Keith Whitmore (Chair of Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority) to view the progress of the Chorlton Metrolink along with the local Chorlton Ward Councillors.

We were invited to a special tour of the new South Manchester Metrolink line to see how far the project has progressed since work started last year shown round by the Metrolink project managers.

I was delighted to have the chance to see what progress has been made over recent months. Now that you can see the tracks being laid it feels as though Metrolink will be in Chorlton soon.  Last time I visited the site it just looked like a building site. Now it looks more like a tram line for the 21st Century.

The progress that has been made is fantastic and we were shown around site with this notable progress to report:

  • Several structures along the line are being refurbished, with work ranging from grit blasting and refinishing to deck and parapet replacement.
  • Construction of the new route is also continuing apace in other areas. Concrete retaining walls at Trafford Bar have been constructed to enable the junction with the Altrincham line to be installed.
  • Track slab and rails are now in place along much of the new line and foundations are in place at the Firswood ands Chorlton stops.
  • At the St Werburgh’s Road stop, piling work adjacent to Elladene Park has been completed and construction of a footpath ramp from St Werburgh’s Road bridge down to the cycle path and the new stop is well underway.
  • A new lift shaft and a staircase off St Werburgh’s Road, to the level of the cycle path, are being installed.

The 1.7-mile extension to St Werburgh’s Road in Chorlton will run south from Trafford Bar along a disused railway line, with three new stops at Firswood, Chorlton and St Werburgh’s Road.  The Metrolink is all on schedule and is due to open in spring 2011, despite what the press are reporting to the contrary.

There have been mutterings about the fact that Metrolink is going to cancelled, members of the ITA have been reassured, and I have been personally reassured during discussions with the Minster for Transport and am absolutely certain Metrolink will be delivered as promised. I even offered the MEN journalist a £500 bet so that he could put his money where his story was, but he refused.

6 responses to “Metrolink on track!

  1. Hi John,

    Thanks for the information, but you don’t specifically mention Didsbury in your post. The Didsbury section of line has been cleared but no construction has started and it would be much easier for this section to be cancelled.

    Do you have further information about the line beyond Chorlton?


  2. Pingback: Didsbury Metrolink Extension under review | Fetch Didsbury·

  3. Harry, the reason why I don’t specifically mention the Didsbury Spur is that the original post was planned to talk about progress on the Chorlton section. My comments were about the Didsbury Spur section. The contracts have been signed and the work will go ahead on the Didsbury Spur.

  4. Glad to hear your confidence relating to the Didsbury and Ashton extenstions, this is most heartening to hear.

    Do you have any thoughts about the planned extensions that are slightly further away?

    For example, my understanding is the Oldham & Rochdale town centre works along with the airport and 2CC extensions still awaiting Final Approval from the DfT.

    Can I remain optomistic based on the fact that the funding for these critical schemes are to be more reliant upon local funding and so long as the regional funding allocation is not overly cut they should remain on track, so to speak?

  5. I have a feeling any further extensions originally given the Green Light under the “Big Bang” by John Prescott before Darling pulled the plug will require PFI funding.

    This includes the Didsbury to Stockport extension. There is provision to extend Metrolink even further beyond Stockport Interchange towards Marple. Peel Holdings are yet to confirm their commitments as the Trafford Centre line was originally planned to link to Stockport via Didsbury.

    Until a couple of years ago there were “Metrolink is Coming” signs up along the preserved alignment for the cancelled/postponed western loop of the Airport line from Chorlton to serve Wythenshawe Hospital, Newall Green and Davenport Green.

    This section of the route remains protected under a Transport & Works Act order. Although chances are it may never be built. I have a feeling the same will be said for the Stockport spur.

  6. “The Metrolink is all on schedule and is due to open in spring 2011.” Didn’t spring finish the same week you wrote this blogpost? Anyway we’re 11 days into summer now and St Werburgh’s tram stop (the first one on the new line) still hasn’t opened. Any news on why not or when it is going to open?

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