‚Äú The UK¬ís premier light rail network operating throughout Greater Manchester. A fast frequent service which is fully accessible to all, running 7 days a week. Metrolink is operated by Altram (Manchester) Limited, owned by Serco, on behalf of the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive, which owns the system and is also a shareholder of Altram. From July 2007 the network will be operated by the Stagecoach Group. The Metrolink network is approximately 23 miles long, with 37 stops. Mosley Street stop in the city centre serves only trams travelling westward. Because much of the route of Metrolink was formerly main-line railway with platforms about 900 mm above ground level, the new stops in the city centre also have 900 mm-high platforms. ‚Äě
Suffered from the start of incredibly low funding levels.
Back in 1990 when it was clear 45 trams were requried to provide enough capacity to provide a reliable service funding was only provided for 26 trams, it was also decided that the cheapest option were to be purchased.
From that day onwards we have suffered from lack of capacity and lack of reliability of the trams.
Of course we all know about how the tracks on the old Altrincham and Bury line was not replaced at the time of conversion to light rail, this led to a rough ride that was not only uncomfortable for passengers but also did the actual trams no favours, the violent shaking making the trams more and more unreliable.
Unbelievably, in the late 1990s, when approached by the local authorities to provide additional capacity, the Dept for Transport instead insisted that prices be raised to control demand on the network.
The fight for funding, to fix all the problems with the infrastructure from the early days are well documented. From the unreliable signalling, the lack of turning locations and the awful state of the phase 1 trams, the issues are all very well known by the locals, but finally, in the last 18months funds have slowly started to come on stream.
Unfortunately, as can be seen by some reviews on this web site, some of the reporting in the local media has been far from helpful and has given people misleading understandings of what is going on and why.
Nearly two years ago there was a serious de-railment in the city centre, this was a sign of the state of the city centre track, a sign of the fact that the whole city centre needed replacing. Unfortunately the local media does little to explain why the track was in the state is was, as such people make up their own wild assumptions, normally incorrect.
The simple fact is, the track laid in Manchester city centre at the start of the 1990s was the first light rail track laid in the UK for many decades, plenty of mistakes were made - no one had the experience / knowledge as to how to do it properly.
Thankfully today in 2009 we are very much moving in the right direction.
The city centre track is much improved and will have a much longer life than the first attempt, much more experience has been gained about how to do it properly in the last 20 years.
We have new trams arriving every two weeks now from the continent, these will soon be in public service which will not only allow for extra capcity but also more importantly it will allow for regular maintenance of the existing trams as there will be capacity to take them out of service to perform some much needed major maintenance.
Along with the new city centre tracks, the new trams, new ticket machines are slowly arriving, much more reliable, able to take credit cards and scaleable to work with the full network when we have in excess of 100 stops on the network.
We have a 'line of sight' operation about to start soon, which will allow for more trams to travel at any one time, increasing capacity.
We have brand new, much better, Passenger Information Disaplays on the way to all platforms on all stations soon, vastly improving the information available to customer.
We are going to be getting a customer announcment system whereby the control room can give specific messages to individual stations.
We are getting enormous expansion of the network - as can be seen on the streets of Manchester today - out to Rochdale, via Oldham, out to Ashton, East Didsbury and the airport. The Media:City line will be opening very soon.
All in all there is plenty wrong with Metrolink - however, a little understanding of what causes these issues gives an idea about how they will be resolved and crucially shows why what is going on today will lead to a vastly improved network that we will all be able to be proud of in the future.
I invariably hate Manchester Metrolink.
Having been out of commission for months whilst the council made 'necessary' repairs and maintenance, promising it would come back bigger and better than ever, they lied.
I haven't experienced every public transport system in the world, but this one must be up there with the most unreliable. You can guarantee at least a dozen break downs a day. Once, recently, i was stuck on a cart for an hour with no word as to what the problem was, we were then shepherded off the tram and told basically to make our own ways home. I was gobsmacked.
It's not cheap either. For a fifteen minute journey, peak-time return you're looking at about ¬£5.50 for a ticket, with no refunds if the service cocks up somewhere along the way, which it often does.
I honestly don't know what improvement they have made. The trams are as grotty as ever, at peak-times they are rammed with suffocating people, they do not run like clockwork, and no other destinations have been added as yet. Oh, and the ticket machines don't work properly either.
So well done Manchester Metrolink, you suck.
The Manchester Metrolink system operates between Manchester and Bury; Manchester and Altrincham; and Manchester and Eccles. Despite Mancunian residents rejecting the proposed congestion charge, the system has recently been overhauled and there are now new tracks on within the city centre and new ticket machines and shelters at the stops within the city centre.
The track alterations took about six months to complete, which effected travel between Altrincham and Manchester; and Eccles and Manchester. However normal service resumed last month (in October 2009) and from a travellers perspective the service is now worse than ever.
The reasons why the tracks were closed in the first place aren't really apparent, but customers were informed that the tracks needed replacing and they have been running since 1992 so I suppose that is a good enough justification. While work was going on the Altrincham and Eccles trams had to stop at G-Mex and take it in turns to drop passengers off at St Peter's Square. Now all trams are running through the city centre.
My two major gripes with the Metrolink service are the price and the lack of communication. If I am paying ¬£2.80 for a return ticket into the city centre then I expect to at least be informed of any delays or problems.
A few nights ago I was stood waiting for an Eccles tram for 40 minutes (they are supposed to come every 10 / 15 minutes), in the time I was waiting four Altrincham trams went past. So I approached a member of staff to see what was going on, she explained that there was no phone to the control rooms she had no way of telling me. This infuriated me, the company have paid out millions for new ticket machines, shelters and seats, but designers didn't think that a phone would be a priority? What a joke!
I just the trams to get to and from work five days a week and I'd say that I experience substantial delays at least three times each week and considering the price I pay I feel this is unacceptable.
If you have time to spare and you want to go shopping in Manchester city centre then I would recommend this service, but if you are using it day in and day out then it will become stressful.
The Manchester Metrolink is a tram system based in Manchester and is operated by Stagecoach Group PLC on behalf of the Greater Manchester Public Transport Executive (GMPTE). Stagecoach Group PLC are one of the largest public transport operators with bus, coach, train & tram/metro operations across the UK and North America.
Metrolink began operations on 6th April 1992 and operates on 2 lines, the green line operates between Bury & Altrincham and the purple line operates between Piccadilly & Eccles via Salford. Both lines go through the City Centre and theres 37 stations across the network. Trains operate to a high frequency timetable with both lines operating upto every 10 minutes from early morning until late night.
Trains are 2-car type trains, they are spacious and easilly accessable with plenty of room for passengers in wheelchairs or those with puschairs or heavy luggage. They are quite dull looking though, they are plain white with a grey line at the bottom, not very exciting but as part of a multi-million pound investment into the network, GMPTE are scrapping the old trains and getting brand new ones built which will be even more spacious, airy and still have plenty of room inside with 52 seats in each car & 8 tipup seats too. Theres plenty of room for wheelchairs, pushchairs & luggage and during peak periods theres plenty of standing room on the new trains too they are due to enter service shortly. The outside of the trains are very cool, they are extremely eye catching with an all over silver look with a bright yellow front and dots at the side towards the front & rear of the train. This is to make them more eye catching but also helps people with sight problems spot the train too. Bright LED displays are going to be used to display train destinations getting rid of the written boards they currently use.
Stations are basically just a platform, most have small sheltered areas which are good when its raining... quite often in Manchester, but they aren't really sufficent for the amount of people using some of the busy stations i.e. the one at Piccadilly Gardens. Stations are supplied with ticket machines, these are quite old and generally don't give change which can be a nightmare as they don't take cards either. However they are very easy to use, you simply select the ticket type then your destination & it displays the price, simply put in your change and your ticket comes out the bottom. As part of the multi-million pound investment, GMPTE are introducing over 200 NEW ticket machines which will accept coins, notes & credit/debit cards and have a wider selection of options. There will be upto 5 ticket machines at every stop and each station should have 1 'queue buster' machine which is for people in a hurry & will only accept cash to a limited number of popular destinations.
Ticket prices are rediculous, especially for shorter journeys, they can be very expensive theres a range of tickets from singles & returns to day tickets & multi-modal tickets like SystemOne allowing travel on buses & trains aswell as Metrolink. But if it's a shorter journey I would recommend getting a bus, it is likely to be cheaper.
Also as part of the investment, GMPTE are building 4 NEW lines including trains to MediaCityUK in Salford, Oldham & Rochdale, Droylsden
in Tameside and Chorlton in South Manchester. The new lines will double the network size and double the amount of trams on the network to provide even greater access to Metrolink services.
Overall I think the Metrolink is good, trains are generally clean, if not very attractive, they run ontime (usually) and operate to a good timetable with trains regulary, downfall is ticket fares are rediculous & ticket machines are old, they don't give change easilly. But I must say I am looking forward to the improvements which will massively improve what is already a fairly good service.
I use the metrolink every day.... unfortunately!!
I use the eccles line, where trams are due every 12 minutes. They are quite regular and usually on time but can be subject to delays. If a tram breaks down on the line, there is no back up, there is a delay until it's moved.
The ticket machines are tempramental, they swallow your money or don't print tickets sometimes. I tend to go for a season ticket.
The trams are very packed at rush hour, like sardines in a tin. It's impossible to move on them and you really have to squeeze yourself on sometimes to able able to get to work on time.
They should really provide more or bigger trams to cover this, someone will get injured one day having people squash on like that.
There was recently a vote in manchester for a congestion charge to pay for extra trams, thankfully resulting in a resounding NO. Tram money should not need to be a form of extra tax.
So in my quest to find a new job (and getting a sodding tax disc from the DVLA) today I had to venture to the bright lights of Manchester city centre, my chosen method of transportation the metrolink from Radcliffe.
OK the metrolink for the uninitiated is the tram system that runs through Manchester city centre connecting Bury, Altrincham and Eccles with the city. The trams run on the Bury line roughly every 6minutes during the day and every 12 minutes at off peak times, from 6am until 11pm.
The trams are in the companies green and grey livery with a drivers cab at either end, they are simply two carriages long as the frequency of the trams negate the need for longer ones (plus any longer and they would be less practical for travelling through the city centre).
On each tram are rows of seats facing the drivers cab, so one carriage is always travelling backwards. There are two sets of doors on each side of the train roughly in the middle of each carriage (I think - there maybe four sets of doors but for some reason I can't picture where they would be if thats the case!). Above each door is a sign with a London Underground style map of the metrolink system, so there are no reasons for missing your stops. Each station is equipped with ticket machines as far as I am aware there are no manned ticket offices on the system, each machine should give change but like all machines the change can sometimes run low, and if you want to pay with coins the machines will accept all UK coins except 1p and 2p's. The ticket looks like a small bus ticket and is easy to lose in a pocket or handbag so keep it in a safe place. There arent regular ticket collectors just spot checks so it isn't worth taking the risk of not buying a ticket. The standard fare is around ¬£20 if you dont have a valid ticket the first time you get caught after this the amount charged will increase until the fourth time you get caught when you will be prosecuted, but the offences are only kept on record for 12 months.
My journey today from Radcliffe to Trafford Bar cost me ¬£3.50 return off peak but the peak time cost would have been ¬£4.80. So not expensive at all and with the regular times you are almost certain not to have a long wait at the station. Of course there can be delays but personally I haven't experienced any as yet. I am uncertain as to whether you are meant to be I have never had any problems jumping on and off the trams at different stops in town centre (today I got off at St Peters Sq back on there then off again at Victoria before getting back on yet again to head back to Radcliffe) obviously within the limits of the ticket I bought.
They have the usual range of ticket types, adult, child, concession as well as season tickets for each type, and these can be bought from the website and from shops with a paypoint, but to buy one of these you have to join the travel club.
The Radcliffe station car park is pretty large, though at the moment sections are closed to allow work on the track over the bank holiday weekend. It should be mentioned here that there are major track works going on this summer but there are signs on each tram and at each station as well as on the website notifying you of the days that the trams wont be running.
The stations all have ramps leading to the platforms and the trams are level with the platform in most places, so are pretty good for disabled people or those with prams, if there are stations without the level platforms am sure the driver can assist.
I have used the trams to get home from evenings out in Manchester and I have always felt reasonably safe on the trams, on occasion I have seen police travelling on them whether this is for the safety of passengers or just the police moving around during their shifts I couldnt say but I do find it reassuring. They seem as clean as you would expect from public transport and seem to suffer remarkably little vandalism. Of course during rush hour I would imagine that they are packed and could be quite unpleasant to travel on but like any other mass transportation this is to be expected - its called rush hour for a reason!
Over all I quite like travelling on the metrolink during off peak times, its as quick as the train, cheaper from the local station, and the metrolink has far more carparking space not to mention that the 15 minute drive away from Bolton means its as quick to go up to Radcliffe when the roads are busy as it is to drive down to the trainstation (just 2miles away but the traffic can be a nightmare), and with the proposed charges for driving in to the city it is a far more attractive concept. So for me getting in to Manchester this has to be my preferred method.