Cllr Andrew Fender from the TfGM Committee with Mark Pritchard of contractor M-Pact Thales

Final rails go down for Metrolink’s Second City Crossing

Main construction works on a new Metrolink line through the heart of Manchester city centre are expected to finish before Christmas, with the final rails now laid.

The £165m Second City Crossing, due to open next year, is designed to allow more frequent, reliable and flexible services to run on the tram network.

All major civil engineering works – including installing overhead lines to power the trams along the route – are expected to be completed before the Christmas markets.

Construction challenges during the works included a collapsed Victorian sewer, and finding double the number of anticipated graves to exhume at a former church graveyard on Cross Street.

A testing and commissioning programme will resume in early 2017 before the first passenger services begin.

Cllr Andrew Fender, chairman of the TfGM Committee, said: “It’s great to see these final sections of rail laid, one of the final jigsaw pieces in the puzzle. With some infrastructure still dating back to the Victorians, building through a busy city has not been an easy task. The scale of the venture has been impressive and, while there has been inevitable disruption, we’re close to the finish line and to customers, residents and businesses reaping the benefits.”

The Second City Crossing will depart Victoria Station and travel along Corporation Street to a new stop at Exchange Square. Services will continue along Cross Street and Princess Street to run through the major new stop recently completed in St Peter’s Square.

Elements of the Second City Crossing programme are financed partly by the European Regional Development Fund.

The main contractor is M-Pact Thales.

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Can’t wait for HS2 to reach Manchester, if this is how long it takes to build half a mile of tram track. There will be people born this year who will going on HS2 with their concessionary old age bus passes.

By Elephant

HS2 to Piccadilly is about 18 to 20 years away.

By Mizzer

Took less time to build a rail line across Canada than has taken to do this..City centre is a mess as a result!

By Schwyz

Isn’t this what happens when you sign a contract which allows the contractor to work only 9-5 Monday to Friday? In any country further east you’d see work continuing later and during weekends. We might have opened this crossing before last year’s International Festival if that had been the case and given a better impression of our city to the many visitors.

By Harder Taskmaster

Schwyz, can you post a link demonstrating this? Manchester is a built-up working city and somewhat different to the Canadian wilderness (or Cheshire wilderness for that matter).

By zebith

Labour levels haven’t been right on the Metrolink 2CC project. They rarely are on any construction project nowadays. Main contractors, who once would have conducted detailed manpower and production planning exercises now package off the work elements to subcontract companies who don’t really understand manpower planning.

The skill is seen as boring and unfashionable because every man and his dog now wants to be a quantity surveyor, a breed of people who are completely and utterly clueless about project delivery.

Then there’s the other type of person in the industry who just offers nonsense opinions on everything but have a proven knowledge of absolutely nothing.

These are the reasons why projects are a mess, because they’re not planned diligently enough, and anyone who wants to approach project planning and delivery in a structured, organised and methodical manner is seen as old fashioned.

And that’s why a half mile of light rail track in 2016 takes longer than what it took to put 40 miles of heavy rail down 150 years ago.

By Mizzer

Were lucky this was built at all. Broken Britain.


Thankfully working conditions are somewhat safer than 150 years ago. I’m happy for that to mean things take a bit longer to build.

By zebith

Zeb, it is possible to be quicker and still safe. Just because we improve productivity (and output speed) there’s no actual reason for safety to take a related dip, none whatsoever. Productivity and safety are not as closely linked as is often thought.

Anyway, what does “a bit longer to build” mean? That kind of wishy-washy statement normally comes from people who don’t really understand major project delivery…don’t worry, you’re not alone…the industry is flooded with them.

By Mizzer

Mizzer, getting a load of Irish navi’s to dig across open fields for subsistence wages is a little bit different to putting a tram through a city centre, building the railways 150 years ago is about as relevant now as slaves building the Pyramids was then.

By Loganberry

Mizz: here’s room for improvement, I’m sure, but comparing building a city centre tramline in 2016 to building heavy rail lines 150 years ago is ridiculous. I would second Logan’s pyramids analogy.

By zebith

Lots of 19th century rail construction work went through, across and beneath urban areas…it wasn’t all just hacking across blowy fields.

We don’t resource modern projects, like 2CC, correctly. That’s one of the key reasons we deliver them late.

By Mizzer

Mmm, lots of them went through urban areas… and lots of them didn’t.

We generally try to pay people a living wage these days so its more expensive to resource projects. Its not behind schedule. Stop whineing.

By zebith

Zeb, just once, try and bring something to this forum that we can all go away the better for.

By Mizzer


Excuse me? I wasn’t being in any way negative about the scheme – that was you. I’d note that the previous phase of Metrolink was ahead of schedule and that was some achievement.

Metrolink is a huge achievement for Greater Manchester. It isn’t perfect, but in a UK-context, it is something to be proud of.

By zebith

Zeb, it is a great achievement, but late. All phases have been late against the baseline programme offer. All phases……late, late, late. Sloppy delivery for such a great scheme.

By Mizzer

Well I for one appreciate Mizzer’s insight into this issue. Ultimately It is annoying to citizens, harmful for businesses and the wider economy, and embarrassing for built environment professionals, and it could be better.

By Bibo

Is that why all the services are late too>? is it because of late tracks?

By The Late Isambard K Brunel