The final rails have now been laid for the new Metrolink line through the heart of Manchester, with the main construction works due to be complete by Christmas.
Despite Manchester’s Victorian infrastructure presenting unforeseen challenges – including a collapsed Victorian sewer, and double the amount of anticipated exhumations after discovering a former church graveyard on Cross Street – the £165 million Second City Crossing is due to open early next year.
Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) opened phase one of the route, from Victoria Station through to a new stop at Exchange Square, last December.
All major civil engineering works for the second phase – including installing overhead lines to power the trams along the route – are expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Because of the potential delays, TfGM was expecting the scheme to be complete in summer next year; however contractor M-Pact Thales (MPT) worked with utility firms and TfGM to make sure that the line is on track to be finished earlier in the year.
Councillor Andrew Fender, chair 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.
“Since the Second City Crossing programme began we’ve seen a huge increase in Metrolink use across the network, from 27 to 35 million passenger journeys a year. The need for a new line through the city has never been more pressing.”
He added that TfGM has also opened a new tram stop in Exchange Square to make room for more customers.