The Metrolink Light Railway System

The Greater Manchester Public Transport Executive describes their Metrolink light railway system as, " one of the most successful light rail systems in the UK, carrying nearly 20 million passengers every year."

Three lines carry trams to Bury, Eccles and Altrincham.  The Bury and Altrincham lines opened in 1992 and the Eccles line was added in 2000.  A fleet of 32 grey and white trams operated on these routes.  In 2009 a new yellow and white tram was introduced.

In the city centre the trams run along street level tracks.  All of the tram routes begin at an underground terminus beneath Piccadilly Railway Station. 

Trams exit the terminus onto London Road.

The line runs through the Piccadilly Place complex heading towards Minshull Street.

A large transport interchange on Parker Street, next to Piccadilly Gardens, marks the dividing point and allows passengers to transfer between buses and trams.

At this point some trams turn right towards Market Street.

From there into High Street.

In Shudehill the line runs through the Shudehill Interchange which once again offers an opportunity to transfer to or from buses and it also offers a large indoor car park.

From Shudehill the line runs along Balloon Street through the complex of Coop warehouses and exits onto Corporation Street past the Cooperative Bank building.

Then the line enters Victoria Railway Station before heading out over rail lines to Bury.


Other trams turn left out of Piccadilly and travel down Mosley Street towards St Peter's Square.

From St. Peter's Square the route runs up Lower Mosley Street beside the Midland Hotel and close to the Bridgewater Hall.

Beside the former G-Mex conference centre, the line climbs a ramp designed to bring the trams up to the level of the railway viaducts.

A bridge carries the line over Great Bridgewater Street.

The trams then travel over the bridges and along the viaducts before heading out towards Altrincham and Eccles.


In 2009 an extensive construction program was implemented in the city centre prior to the introduction of the new trams.  This involved the laying of new tracks and replacing the tarmac and bricks that surrounded them with granite blocks.  This construction lasted for several months and caused the closure of the system within the city centre during that time.  Below are some glimpses of that work.


In 2010 work is underway on a new line from Piccadilly Station.  It will run through New Islington to the stadium and velodrome at Sportscity and on to Droylesden and eventually Ashton-under-Lyne.

When the line reaches Great Ancoats Street it dips down beneath the road.

On the other side of Great Ancoats Street it resurfaces next to Pollard Street.

It runs along Pollard Street with the Millener's Wharf development to the north of it.

Then past the Bank of England pub before heading on towards Sportscity.


Update February 2011

The new wall constructed around the entrance to the tunnel that takes the Metrolink under Great Ancoats Street.

Below the completed New Islington Station.

The station under construction near Islington Wharf and Pollard Street.

Above:  The lines passing Milleners Wharf.

Below:  The new line beyond Ashton New Road heading out along the Medlock Valley.

The line swoops around Sportscity eventually approaching Ashton New Road again skirting around the Asda Superstore beside Alan Turing Way.


On October 13, 2014 an article appeared in the Manchester Evening News announcing, “New Metrolink line to Wythenshawe and Manchester Airport to open on November 3 – a year ahead of schedule”.  It went on to explain that, “... The line, which includes 15 stops, will bring the size of Greater Manchester’s Metrolink network to a massive 92.5km, or just over 57 miles. It will serve a total of 92 stops.  Trams on the new Metrolink line to Wythenshawe and Manchester Airport will run with passengers on board from early next month - more than a year ahead of schedule.”


In 2014 -2015 a new Metrolink line was under constructed through the city centre.  This was to be the Second City Crossing.

This new route begins in St Peter's Square ....

It travels along Mosley Street before turning left into Princess Street passing beside Town Hall. 

In Albert Square the new line turns right along Cross Street ....

Then across Market Street into Corporation Street and on to Victoria station.

The images below were taken in February of 2015 during construction.




Update July 2016 on the "Second City Crossing" from St Peter's Square, down Princess Street, along Cross Street and Corporation Street to Victoria Station.