Trafford Park Metrolink 1
The £350m extension adds 3.4 miles to the network. Image: @mich2255

Metrolink’s Trafford Park line opens

Dan Whelan

The £350m extension to Greater Manchester’s light rail network opened on Sunday, despite concerns over coronavirus, to help key workers make essential journeys. 

The line’s first service left Cornbrook for the Trafford Centre at 06:31 on Sunday morning to little fanfare.

Work on the line completed earlier this month, some seven months ahead of the schedule set by Transport for Greater Manchester. 

The 3.4-mile extension was funded by Greater Manchester’s devolution deal, with a £20m contribution from Trafford Council, and was built by MPact Thales, a joint venture between VolkerRail, Laing O’Rourke, Thales, and WSP. 

The line connects Cornbrook to the Trafford Centre with stops at the following stations: 

  • Wharfside, next to Manchester Ship Canal and close to Manchester United FC
  • Imperial War Museum North, next to the museum 
  • Village, on Village Way near Village Circle and Third Avenue cafes and shops 
  • Parkway, at Parkway Circle roundabout 
  • Barton Dock Road, next to Barton Square and EventCity 
  • intu Trafford Centre 
Metrolink Network Map Zonal With TPL From Cornbrook NORMAL

The updated Metrolink map including the six additional Trafford Park line stations

A statement from TfGM said that any decisions about reducing or cancelling services “would be made based on the latest national guidance and in the best interests of our staff and the travelling public and our overarching objective to help those who need to travel for essential reasons to continue to do so.” 

TfGM has now taken the decision to go ahead with the opening of the new line but confirmed that the number of services across the network will be scaled down.

In January 2019 the Government backed early plans to extend the Metrolink network further to connect towns like Wilmslow, Marple and Wigan using existing railway lines. While in January this year it was announced Stockport was preparing a £1bn bid for a line connecting East Didsbury with the town centre. 

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What is the point of this extension?

Pointless… all that money wasted

By Kieran

I feel like no one is talking about how much of an achievement this is. How many people can say they worked on a project of this size that finished on time, let alone many MONTHS early.

By Superhans

@Kieran. There are lots of good points about this extension. Do extensions seem a waste of money to you if you personally don’t use them?
Here are a few, but there are more.
1) Additional capacity for transport to Old Trafford Stadium. This is hugely needed especiallly considering Old Trafford is the largest stadium in the region. This area around the stadium is also about to increase in population, so it needs more transport
2) Additional capacity to MediaCity. If you have ever used the trams during peak periods to MediaCity you would know how much of a sardine people feel. Not only will this relieve overcrowding, it will offer a much faster route since the existing route is slow and winds through lots of streets
3) Finally Trafford Park has rail infrastructure and is connected to the main Metrolink network. No need to ask why, Trafford Park is the largest industrial park in Europe and until now had no rail public transport.
4) The Trafford Centre will be connected to the main public transport network. As the largest shopping centre outside the city centre in Greater Manchester, this is a huge advantage. People who work at the Trafford Centre have already started saying how much time they save getting there and this was just before the lockdown.
5) All the other businesses around the Trafford Centre as well, it’s not only shoppers there.

Sorry, just because you don’t use something, doesn’t mean it is a waste of money.

By EOD

Spot on EOD. Crazy how insular people are when looking at benefits of things like this. Once things are back to normal this will have huge benefits. Only issue I can see is people parking for free at Trafford Centre to get to Utd games not shopping

By Disgruntled Goat

This is probably the most useful extension yet

By Anonymous

Kieran, if only you’d enlightened the planners with your genius before, they could have saved all that money !….Doh !

By Nve

The fact that this goes past Old Trafford will make it pay for itself very quickly. It also goes past IWMN and the Coronation Street tour too. All places many visit.

By Elephant

This project is going obviously useful and beneficial… unlike, say, Brexit which goes without saying, really is a massive waste of money and is completely pointless.

By Met good, Brex bad

Brilliant news. The Trafford Centre tram stop will become Manchester’s largest park-and-ride…. with a shopping precinct attached!

By Anonymous

Good job all round, but why terminate the line at Cornbrook rather than Deansgate?

By Frank

@Frank – There is an extra middle track at Cornbrook where trams can stop and drivers change ends without blocking the through routes. Deansgate utilises all three platforms most of time so swapping ends every few minutes would block the lines.

By Red Rose

A great scheme? – time will tell. Perhaps TfGM can now concentrate on compensating those businesses which have been greatly affected by the compulsorily purchase of their property and disturbance during the construction phase. In some cases land was taken over two years ago and not a penny of compensation yet paid!

By Anonymous