Metrolink was Manchester’s revolutionary new transport system, which has become the model for many other similar schemes throughout the UK (Wolverhampton and Sheffield, for example) and the world. It is a tram, in that it runs on the streets of Manchester, but it’s also a train, which joins the conventional rail line at Victoria Station to become a smart fast commuter system. It acts as a vital link between Piccadilly and Victoria Stations, which hitherto had no connection, and travellers had to make the inconvenient trip across town, by foot, bus or taxi. Its latest extension also links with the line to Altrincham at the G-Mex Centre and Castlefield. It has already caused about 10% of commuter motorists to swap their cars for the ease, comfort and speed of this super efficient, environmentally-friendly transport system. Tickets are by automated machine, but tickets are frequently inspected, and this trust system seems to work. It now makes sense to park out of town and ride in by tram. The original line ran from Bury to Altrincham and was opened in the mid-1990s, and has been subsequently extended to Salford Quays and Eccles; still in the planning stage and in feasibility study is a proposal to extend a line to the Trafford Retail Park at Dumplington, and to Manchester Airport.
Metrolink Service & Frequency
The train/trams run from 6.00am to 11.30pm from Monday to Thursday, and later until half an hour past midnight from Friday to Sunday evenings. Trams run at an increased frequency of every six minutes from 7.15am until 6.30pm on weekdays and Saturdays, and from 10.00am until 5.00pm at 12 minute intervals on Sundays. Every other tram goes directly to Piccadilly Mainline Rail Station, except on Sundays when all trams go via Piccadilly.
Other Transport Connections to Metrolink
Buses: Metrolink trams stops connect directly with bus and coach interchanges at: Bury, Whitefield, Victoria, Piccadilly, Altrincham and Eccles. A shuttle bus is available at Stretford Station for a direct link to the Trafford Centre. Rail Stations: Metrolink trams have interchanges with mainline rail stations at: Bury, Victoria, Piccadilly, G-Mex and Altrincham. Onsite Parking: Available at or adjacent to the following Metrolink stations: Bury, Radcliffe, Prestwich, Heaton Park, Stretford, Sale, Brooklands and Navigation Road.
Metrolink operates on an honour system. There are no ticket collectors at stations or on board trams, but Inspectors frequently board at random and there are hefty fines for anyone travelling without a valid ticket. No eating, drinking or smoking allowed on any trams of at stations en route. No bicycles allowed on trams. No dogs allowed except guide dogs for the blind and hearing dogs.
Accessibility & Security
All trams are fully accessible to wheelchair users from every platform and station. Special reserved places are available on board for wheelchairs and for mothers with prams. All trams and station platforms have CCTV and stations and carriages are constantly monitored by Metrolink central control on a 24 hour basis.
Tickets & Pricing
As an example of costs, a journey on Metrolink from Bury to Manchester Piccadilly would cost: Single = about £3.50 for an adult with concessions for children and OAPs. Cheap off peak tickets available, as well as weekly, monthly and annual saver tickets. Peak Time Return (ie. before 9.30am) = £5.00 Off Peak Return (after 9.30am) = £3.50….BUT…prices are liable to change – please check in advance. Ticket dispensing machines are available at all train stops and accept the following coins : 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1 and £2. Notes are not accepted. Change is given from all machines. Various discounted and concessionary tickets are available – enquire directly from Metrolink about Season Tickets, Reduced Fare and Free Travel, Integrated Tickets (with other rail and bus services), and Group Tickets. National Free Bus Pass Holders over 60 years of age travel free off peak with a valid card, and pay concesionary fares during the morning rush hour period. Please note that prices will (inevitably) have risen since writing, and you should check before setting out.
Phase 3 is a proposal to extend the Metrolink network to even more outlying boroughs and districts and many are already underway at the time of writing this, including:
Airport (via Wythenshawe loop) line
Stockport line via East Didsbury (option – not yet definite)
Trafford Centre line (option – not yet definite).
See more Phase 3 details at: https://www.metrolink.co.uk/headlines/phase3/.
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