The launch date announcement comes immediately after the successful completion of the project and handover of the new line to the operator, KeolisAmey Metrolink, whose drivers are currently undertaking a rigorous training programme before welcoming the first passengers onboard.
Metrolink is already the UK’s largest tram network, running to a total of 96km and 93 stops. The new Trafford Park line will add a further 5.5km of track and six additional stops, bringing the total to 99.
The delivery of the new line supports Greater Manchester’s progress towards a London-style transport system. Launched in June 2019, ‘Our Network’ is a ten-year plan to create an integrated, modern and accessible public network – of which further Metrolink extensions and the introduction of tram-train are focal points.
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “It’s great that the Trafford Park line will open for business on Sunday 22 March. It is a much-needed addition to the Metrolink network and will encourage more people to use public transport to journey around our city-region, and in doing so reduce congestion on our roads and improve the quality of our air.
“Last June I set out Our Network - a vision for the type of world-class transport network I want us to have here in Greater Manchester. This new line is a great step towards that, and a shining example of what we can deliver with the right funding and powers.”
The project was the first to benefit from the region’s Devolution Deal – signed by Greater Manchester leaders and central government in November 2014, with a £20 million contribution from Trafford Council – and has been delivered approximately seven months earlier than originally planned.
The Trafford Park line runs through Europe’s largest industrial estate, providing access to thousands of jobs, including global brands such as Kellogg’s, Unilever, Missguided, L’Oreal and Adidas. The new stops will also provide easy access to some of the North West’s top retail and leisure destinations, including intu Trafford Centre, Old Trafford stadium and Imperial War Museum North.
Leader of Trafford Council, Councillor Andrew Western, said: “The opening of the Trafford Park Line will be hugely important for the continued development of the local and regional economy. It is fantastic news for the tens of thousands of people who come to Trafford Park and the surrounding areas for work and leisure.
“It will also help get more cars off the road as visitors will now have a real transport alternative via Metrolink to some of the country’s most famous retail and leisure destinations including Manchester United and the Imperial War Museum.”
Transport for Greater Manchester’s Chief Executive, Eamonn Boylan, added: “A project of this size and scale is a huge undertaking and we are pleased at how smoothly it’s come together, meaning we’re opening the line much sooner than we anticipated.
“We’re very pleased to be welcoming passengers on board and opening up the Trafford Park area for workers, shoppers and visitors. I have no doubt it’ll make a huge difference to the area, particularly to the many local businesses.
“One particularly exciting partnership we’ve developed has been with intu Trafford Centre, and we look forward to growing our relationship in the years ahead.”
The mutually-beneficial deal between intu Trafford Centre and TfGM offers them opportunities to promote their leisure and retail destination alongside TfGM – the commercial income generated will be reinvested back into the Metrolink network.
Notes to editors
The new line will have six new tram stops:
•Wharfside - next to Manchester Ship Canal and close to Manchester United Football Club.
•Imperial War Museum - located adjacent to the museum.
•Village - On Village Way, near Village Circle and Third Avenue cafes and shops.
•Parkway - At the Parkway Circle roundabout.
•Barton Dock Road – Adjacent to Barton Square and Event-City.
•intu Trafford Centre - At intu Trafford Centre outside Selfridges on Barton Dock Road.
•The TPL project has been delivered by TfGM, design and construction partner MPT – a consortium of Laing O’Rourke, VolkerRail and Thales – with WSP as TfGM’s delivery partner.
•Public support for the Trafford Park line was established at a major public consultation in summer 2014, where 89% of respondents were in favour.
•Additional quote from intu Trafford Centre:
Alison Niven, Centre Director at intu Trafford Centre, added: “We were presented with an incredible opportunity by TfGM to call the new stop ‘intu Trafford Centre’ and promote our destination across the network.
“We look forward to welcoming the first tram and our very first Metrolink customers on 22 March, in what is a really exciting time for the centre with Primark opening in the newly completed Barton Square development.”