The next extension due to open on Manchester Metrolink – scheduled for the first half of 2020 – to the Trafford Centre has achieved a couple more significant milestones recently including the final concrete pouring and the full reopening of Trafford Wharf Road after over two years of disruption.
The final pouring of concrete took place on a 15 metre section of track by ITV Studios (this is where a floating slab is being used to reduce noise vibrations so as not to disrupt the filming of Coronation Street) this week. This now means that 21,100 cubic metres of concrete has been poured during the project – that’s the equivalent of more than eight Olympic sized swimming pools! (Press releases always like a nice comparison with just how big things are like this!)
Meanwhile traffic restrictions on Trafford Wharf Road were lifted on Sunday 3rd November returning the road to two way operation once more – for the first time since restrictions were imposed on 19th June 2017 (it was made one-way eastbound from this day). It is planned that Village Way will also resume two way traffic shortly once final testing has taken place.
Cllr Mark Aldred, TfGM Committee Chairman, said: “This really is an exciting week for the Trafford Park line with the final pieces of the construction jigsaw put in place, paving the way for tram testing along the line. Moreover, the return of a major local road to two-way operation will provide a boost to motorists and I’d like to thank them for their patience during the essential one-way restrictions. Once open, the Trafford Park line will enable much improved access to Europe’s largest industrial estate and some of the region’s biggest visitor attractions.”
The Trafford Park line is due to open in the first half of 2020 but it remains unclear how the delayed delivery of the new 27 trams from Bombardier will impact on the opening. The £350 million line leaves the current Eccles line at Pomona and then travels to Trafford Centre via new stops at Wharfside, Imperial War Museum North, Village, Parkway and EventCity. It runs for a total of 5.5km and will be on largely traffic free segregated route.
Cllr Andrew Western, Leader of Trafford Council, said: “The scheme is hugely important for Trafford Park and the areas around intu Trafford Centre, both of which are essential to Trafford’s economy; not only do they provide thousands of jobs, they also attract a significant number of visitors while also delivering continued growth, regeneration and investment.”
As well as this work on pouring the concrete there has also been significant progress on the installation of overhead wire along the route. Wire is in place from the Trafford Centre to almost Parkway Circle and then from Parkway towards the Imperial War Museum of the North. There are still sections to be completed (notably on the approach to Pomona) but these are expected to follow in the coming months ahead of the first gauging runs and testing ahead of the start of services.