One of the big complaints on Manchester Metrolink is the overcrowding seen on peak time servcies and in order to try and combat this more double trams are being introduced on the Altrincham and Bury lines. Two doubles are already running on the Altrincham line with two doubles also set to be introduced on the Bury line from early December.
As well as being the original two lines of Manchester Metrolink the Altrincham and Bury lines are also the busiest on the network with more than 40% of all passenger journeys being taken on these services. The two lines are linked by the Altrincham to Bury direct service (Mondays to Saturdays until early evening) which is already totally the domain of double units but the intermediate services on the lines are now seeing improvements.
During November the Altrincham to Etihad Campus service saw two extra trams diagrammed which allowed two doubles to be introduced following the completion of extra substations on the route. And now with work making good progress on extra power for the Bury line the Bury to Piccadilly service will also see an additional two trams allocated which will enable two doubles to operate here as well. The Bury line improvements are set to be introduced from early December, ideal for the run up to Christmas.
Andy Burnham, Greater Manchester Mayor, said: “Passengers have raised concerns about overcrowding on this line in recent weeks and I have been in discussions with transport providers to ensure action is taken to respond to these concerns. So I’m really pleased to see this announcement today. Investment in transport infrastructure in Greater Manchester is vital – not only to help people get about, it’s also crucial to supporting the continued economic growth of the city-region. We already have the largest light rail network in the UK which helps millions of people get around the city-region every year but I remain committed to pushing for more investment from Government and looking at how we can better integrate all forms of public transport to ensure more people travel easily to work, to school and college, for shopping trips and for leisure.”
In many ways Manchester Metrolink has been a victim of its own success with its popularity with commuters and those travelling from leisure continuing to increase. These additional trams added into the mix is hopefully just the start of an increased capacity with Transport for Greater Manchester already investigating any finding streams which could possibly see more tram ordered. Whether these would see the restarting of the M5000 production line or if a new design of tram is built is unclear at the moment.
Danny Vaughan, Head of Metrolink at TfGM, commented: “As the largest tram system in the country, catering for more than 40 million passenger journeys a year, the Metrolink network is busier than ever, particularly at peak times. We know more trams are needed so that Metrolink can continue to grow and keep people moving. This represents the first step in addressing capacity issues and, while it remains early days, I’d like to reassure all of our customers, regardless of the line they use, that we are working hard to ensure extra capacity is delivered as quickly as is practicable. On that basis we are looking closely at funding options now to buy extra trams to provide additional capacity across the network and sustain its future growth.”