Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, has confirmed that the first of the 27 new trams being constructed for extra capacity on the Manchester Metrolink network is set to arrive in the city this week.
The trams have been ordered with funding through the Transforming Cities Fund with the original announcement of their purchase being back in July 2018. At the time it was expected that the first of the trams would arrive in Manchester in February 2020 but a supply chain issue saw this timeline slip with reports in October 2019 suggesting it would be August 2020 before the first was delivered.
Obviously, as we know all too well, the Coronavirus pandemic has caused delays in many areas of life and this has been one further delay with the delivery schedule slipping further. But now it has been confirmed that the first – to be numbered 3121 – should be arriving in Manchester this week, although no exact details of when this may be have been revealed.
Once the first one is delivered it is expected a new tram will arrive approximately every 3-4 weeks. All trams will have to go through the usual commissioning process but even with this it is hoped the first will be in service ahead of Christmas.
Of course, initially order to allow for greater capacity on the Metrolink network (enabling the Trafford Centre service to be extended through Manchester City Centre to Crumpsall) the extra trams will now have the added bonus of allowing more doubles to run with social distancing becoming easier once the current lockdown restrictions are lifted.
Andy Burnham said: “Public safety has, and will remain, my absolute priority as we continue to navigate our way out of this pandemic – and these new trams will be vital to helping us provide more capacity on Metrolink when we come out of lockdown and once again focus on building back better from this virus. We know concerns over using public transport – including social distancing – can be a real barrier that prevents people from travelling, and measures like this will help restore and build confidence in our networks.”