The route will then turn onto Warren Bruce Road, and then onto Village Way up to Parkway, serving the large Trafford Park estate. It then crosses over the Bridgewater Ship Canal before turning onto Barton Dock Road, terminating outside the intu Trafford Centre. Much of the new line will operate on segregated tracks, providing a faster route than would be possible if it was built on-street.
The new three and a half-mile line will feature six new tramstops, provisionally named Wharfside, the Imperial War Museum, Village, Parkway, EventCity and the intu Trafford Centre.
Construction work on the new line will once again be managed by MPT, which already has a team of engineers highly experienced in building Metrolink routes. When the line is complete, the Metrolink network will consist of 99 tramstops.
Ten M5000 trams ordered from Bombardier (3095-3104) will serve the line. These trams had been ordered by TfGM speculatively - at the time the order was placed Government approval for the Trafford Line had not yet been secured, although plans for the route were at an advanced stage and a Public Inquiry was being held into the project. The ten trams purchased for the Trafford line are already in use on the Metrolink network, forming part of the general tram fleet.
Since this order, Government funding has allowed the purchase of a further 16 trams (3105-3120) to help enhance services and increase capacity, with all 120 M5000 trams now delivered to Manchester and in service.
There were two main objectors to the construction of the Trafford Line, Manchester United Football Club and ITV Studios.
Manchester United’s objection to the line is mainly based on the effect the line could have on the flow of crowds leaving the Old Trafford ground on match days, due to the close proximity of the running line to the football ground. Government approval for the line includes express provisions for addressing traffic flow concerns around the Wharfside tramstop.
ITV’s objection came from the producers of Coronation Street, which is now based in Salford Quays as part of the MediaCity UK media development. Production of the programme moved to a new purpose-built set in 2013, having left the previous base at the former Granada Television studios at Quay Street, on the outskirts of Manchester city centre.
The programme makers raised concerns about noise and vibration from trams causing disruption to filming schedules, with the new line also running close to where the new outdoor street set is located. They hoped that the route could be diverted away from their base.
Again, it was felt that deviating the route away from the Coronation Street studios was impractical. Grayling suggested that investigations should take place to try to reduce the noise made by the trams, especially wheel squeal when negotiating sharp bends in the line.
It is hard to imagine that TfGM will not want to continue to improve and increase the Metrolink network further in the future. No doubt it will be looking closely over the Pennines at the tram-train extension between Rotherham and Sheffield on the Stagecoach Supertram network, to see if similar tram-train-style operations could be a realistic option for some of the outlying areas of Greater Manchester in the future.
This feature was published in RAIL 822 on 11th March 2017