Train Travels: Volume 19 – Manchester Metrolink

Around Greater Manchester, the UK’s largest Light Railway Network is taking shape, transporting millions of customers around the City and beyond. Every time we have been to Manchester, we have used the Metrolink System, it is a convenient way to get into the city centre and to the main train station, and this post covers the Network, starting with the main route we use from the town of Eccles, through Salford, Manchester and finally terminating in the town of Ashton-under-Lyne:

Eccles – Ashton-under-Lyne

Calling at:

  • Eccles, Ladywell
  • Weastle, Langworthy
  • Broadway, Harbour City
  • Anchorage, Salford Quays
  • Exchange Quay
  • Pomona
  • Deansgate-Castlefield
  • St Peter’s Square
  • Piccadilly Gardens, Piccadilly
  • New Islington
  • Holton Town, Etihad Campus
  • Velopark, Clayton Hall
  • Edge Lane, Cemetery Road
  • Droylsden, Audenshaw
  • Ashton Moss, Ashton West
  • Ashton-under-Lyne

MediaCityUK is sometimes included on this route as some trams run to MediaCityUK and then continue along the rest of the route, the extra stop coming between Broadway and Harbour City.

The are two main types of rolling stock used on the Metrolink System:

1) T-68

Eccles 4

This is the original tram to be brought into service on the network, starting in 1992. They were designed to be used only in Manchester, and built in Naples by AnsaldoBreda. We used to see them regularly around Manchester, however they have now been phased out completely and are no longer used. They were quite spacious, with a maximum speed of 50 mph, however the newer trams are much sleeker.

2) M5000

Old 14

Like the previous tram, these Flexity Swift M5000 models were built just for the Manchester Metrolink, and are often joined together, as the flap below the number at the front (in this case 3053) lifts up and a coupling emerges, to form a double service. When this occurs over 400 passengers can be catered for at once.

The first of these new trams was brought in during 2009 and have taken over the entire network now with the withdrawal of the older trams. A total of 83 trams were built, with 82 running and one for spare parts. The units are constructed in Bautzen, Germany by Bombardier Transportation, and also at another factory in Vienna, Austria.


Above you can see a map of the Metrolink Network, with the lines radiating out from the City Zone, which covers all the stops in Manchester City Centre. Currently 77 stops are operated across 48 miles of track, with extensions planned to other locations including Manchester Airport, which will increase this to 93 stops over 60 miles of track.

The first line to open was in 1992, between Manchester Victoria Station through to the town of Bury, following the Green Line. This was then extended further West to Deansgate-Castlefield (then called G-Mex), and then through to Altrincham to complete the Green Line. Trams also now ran through Piccadilly Gardens to Piccadilly Station, the main train station in the city. By 2000 a new line to Eccles via Salford had been built, branching off at Cornbrook, creating the Pink Line, and by 2014 lines to MediaCityUK, Rochdale via Oldham, East Didsbury and Ashton-under-Lyne open.

There are various plans for the network in the future with the main one being an expansion to Manchester Airport, with any other plans still to unfold as they keep changing due to funding issues.

Other Main Lines We Have Used (All):

  • MediaCityUK – Cornbrook
    • (Calling at: MediaCityUK, Harbour City, Anchorage, Salford Quays, Exchange Quay, Pomona and Cornbrook)
  • Altrincham – Bury
    • (Calling at: Altrincham, Navigation Road, Timperley, Brooklands, Sale, Dane Road, Stretford, Old Trafford, Trafford Bar, Cornbrook, Deansgate-Castlefield, St Peter’s Square, Market Street, Shudehill, Queens Road, Abraham Moss, Crumpsall, Bowker Vale, Heaton Park, Prestwich, Bess o’ th’ Barn, Whitefield, Radcliffe and Bury)
  • Altrincham – Piccadilly
    • (Calling at: Altrincham, Navigation Road, Timperley, Brooklands, Sale, Dane Road, Stretford, Old Trafford, Trafford Bar, Cornbrook, Deansgate-Castlefield, St Peter’s Square, Piccadilly Gardens and Piccadilly)
  • East Didsbury – Rochdale via Oldham
    • (Calling at: East Didsbury, Didsbury Village, West Didsbury, Burton Road, Withington, St Werburgh’s Road, Chorlton, Firswood, Trafford Bar, Cornbrook, Deansgate-Castlefield, St Peter’s Square, Market Street, Shudehill, Monsall, Central Park, Newton Heath & Moston, Failsworth, Hollinwood, South Chadderton, Freehold, Westwood, Oldham King Street, Oldham Central, Oldham Mumps, Derker, Shaw & Crompton, Newhey, Milnrow, Kingsway Business Park, Newbold, Rochdale Railway Station and Rochdale Town Centre)
  • Bury – Abraham Moss
    • (Calling at: Bury, Radcliffe, Whitefield, Besses o’ th’ Barn, Prestwich, Heaton Park, Bowker Vale, Crumpsall and Abraham Moss)

The Metrolink Platforms at Victoria Station was shut in February 2014, as the main station front is getting a redesign to modernise it, but the stop should be open again by 2015, and will fit in between Shudehill and Monsall on the Metrolink Lines.

Metrolink is fantastic for getting yourself around the county, from Manchester City Centre to many interesting towns, and the famous Salford Quays. Below is a selection of pictures from places you can visit using the Metrolink Network:


2 thoughts on “Train Travels: Volume 19 – Manchester Metrolink

    • Thank you very much, really glad you enjoyed the posts 🙂 I hope one day your dream becomes a reality. Lots more posts to come as we keep exploring 😀

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