Main construction works on a new Metrolink line through the heart of Manchester city centre are expected to finish before Christmas, with the final rails now laid.
Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) opened the first phase of the route, from Victoria Station through to a new stop at Exchange Square, in December 2015, fast-tracked thanks to a grant from the European Regional Development Fund.
All major civil engineering works, including installing overhead lines to power the trams along the route, are expected to be completed by the end of the year.
It means the city will be free of Metrolink construction work in time for the busy festive period, when Manchester City Council’s Christmas markets attract millions of visitors to the city.
Despite the city’s Victorian infrastructure throwing up several unforeseen and major construction challenges, including a collapsed Victorian sewer, and double the number of anticipated exhumations following the discovery of a former church graveyard on Cross Street, the Second City Crossing is expected to open in early 2017.
Due to the potential delays, TfGM had been expecting completion in summer 2017. However contractor M-Pact Thales (MPT) worked closely with utility companies and TfGM to ensure the line is on track to be finished earlier in the year, through collaborative management and mitigation of the construction work.
A thorough testing and commissioning programme will resume in early 2017 before the first passenger services can launch.
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.”
MPT has been at the heart of the huge expansion to Manchester’s Metrolink network since the project began in 2008. Peter Jones, MPT Project Director, said: “Over the past eight years of partnership with TfGM, we’ve built 58 new tram stops and more than 60km of new track. Reaching this milestone is a measure of our teams’ tenacity and we will work together to ensure the opening is achieved early next year.”
The Second City Crossing leaves Victoria Station and travels along Corporation Street to a new stop at Exchange Square. Services will continue along Cross Street and Princess Street to run through the major new stop recently completed in St Peter’s Square.
MPT, the joint venture made up of VolkerRail, Laing O’Rourke and Thales, has started work on the final phase of...