Manchester Metrolink Extension Project, United Kingdom

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key facts
Key Data
Starting year
Project type
Manchester, UK
Estimated investment
£550 million
To be announced
Lead contractor
Greater Manchester Authority, UK Government

The UK government has recently approved the new Manchester Metrolink Project (Manchester, UK).

The light rail will operate within Greater Manchester, improving traffic conditions over all the area.

The Government has agreed to partially sustain the project with public funds. This means that within the next seven to eight years about half of the households of Greater Manchester could be within two miles of a metrolink stop.


The Metrolink extension project is part of the Greater Manchester Integrated project that was launched in 1998 by the UK Government. The Integrated project is an initiative to improve the quality of public transport in the area.

The new transport system, in particular the planned Metrolink extension, is believed to be able to drastically reduce the traffic in some of the busiest areas of Greater Manchester. The extension has been planned with the objective of serving a higher number of passengers than the current rail line and is believed to be able to take up several million car journeys off the road each year.

The project is also believed to bring economic benefits to the area both in term of reducing unemployment and also increasing the number of business activities along the line.


The Government announced in March 2000 that it would make its share of funding available for the project. Construction works are expected to start by the year 2002.


The new Metrolink extension is made up of several routes improvements:

  • The 15 mile Oldham-Rochdale route is expected to carry an estimated 10 million passengers a year. The Manchester-Oldham-Rochdale railway line ('The Loop Line') will be converted to light rail reducing the transportation time of the line.
  • The South Manchester and Airport extension will run from Trafford Bar through Firswood to Chorlton, re-using a disused railway track bed. It will then run on a new route to Barlow Moor, across the Mersey Valley. Beyond Baguley the route serves Davenport Green, Wythenshawe, Wythenshawe Hospital and will terminate at an integrated train, bus and tram interchange at Manchester Airport. The 14 mile route could carry an estimated eight million passengers a year
  • The 6 mile Ashton-under-Lyne Metrolink extension runs from the existing Metrolink terminus at Piccadilly through Ancoats, Eastlands, Clayton, Droylsden and Audenshaw. It will serve major regeneration areas at Ancoats Urban Village, the Commonwealth Games site and Ashton Moss. Between Clayton and Audenshaw the line runs along Ashton New Road serving a proportion of local residents. Up to six million passengers a year could be carried, saving an estimated two million car journeys.

Some preparatory work involving the diversion of utility apparatus could commence later in 2001 and the main construction work is hoped to start in 2002. Before work can commence, in order to achieve best value for money, a tendering process will be needed. It is anticipated that it will take 18 months before this process is completed and a concessionaire is appointed who will be responsible for operating the existing system and building the extensions. Extending Metrolink will also require a building programme. GMPTE will ensure that there is liaison with local residents, businesses, bus operators and other road users before and during the construction phases.

The overall cost for the project is in the range of £550 million. The government will finance the extension with £250 million of public funding.


GMPTE is responsible for letting the contract for the Metrolink extensions.

The Contract will probably be awarded towards late autumn 2002.

Map of the Oldham/Rochdale link

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Map of the Oldham/Rochdale link.

Public transport in Manchester

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Public transport in Manchester.

Airport extension route

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Airport extension route.

The Ashton route expansion

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The Ashton route expansion.

Diagram of Manchester Airport showing alterations

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Diagram of Manchester Airport showing alterations.

Diagram of the Oldham/Rochdale route

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Diagram of the Oldham/Rochdale route.

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