The existing Metrolink Queens Road Depot was designed to accommodate 25 light rail vehicles and to provide all necessary operational, stabling and maintenance facilities as part of the original Phase 1 Metrolink System. There were a further 6 vehicles commissioned when the Phase 2 Eccles extension was added but no additional sidings or facilities were provided at the depot. The only significant addition was the construction of a single vehicle workshop.
The depot is currently operating at maximum capacity which makes the operation of the depot sub-optimal, and requires extensive shunting manoeuvres if vehicles need to be moved during non-operational periods when all vehicles are parked in the depot.
As part of the Manchester Metrolink Phase 1 and 2 upgrade and renewals programme, a further 8 light rail vehicles are to be supplied. The existing depot does not have enough spare capacity to support the stabling and maintenance of the new vehicles alongside the existing fleet. As a result GMPTE plan to extend the depot to provide additional stabling, maintenance and operational facilities for an expanded fleet of 44 vehicles.
In addition to the 8 new vehicles, GMPTE is procuring a further 32 vehicles due to the expansion of the network to include lines to Oldham and Rochdale, Droylsden in East Manchester, the MediaCityUK development in Salford and Chorlton in South Manchester. The new line to Chorlton also includes work to build a new depot on the south side of the city centre.
VolkerRail are undertaking Work Package 2 - Permanent Way installation and Work Package 3 - OLE installation, under the project management of VolkerRail Power, with a contract value in excess of £2m.
The Altrincham OLE (between Cornbrook junction and Altrincham) was originally electrified by British Rail in the 1930's as a 1500V DC system. It was converted to 25kV AC operation in the early 1970's (BR Mk3a fixed termination equipment) and subsequently to 750V dc operation in 1990 for the Metrolink conversion, making maximum use of the existing 25kV OLE including the structures.
A condition survey, undertaken in June 2006, identified damaged, worn and life expired equipment. Following the condition survey a report was issued detailing recommendations for the repair, adjustment and renewal of equipment to improve and enhance the future operating reliability of the system.
VolkerRail Power are managing the design, installation and commissioning of 7kms of OLE wire runs and the installation of multiple OLE masts and gantries. This particular project will be uniquely challenging as there will be an interface between Metrolink and Network Rail infrastructure. The majority of the OLE renewals will take place shortly during a 30 day blockade in August 2009, with preliminary civil and preparatory works already undertaken during "Rules of The Route" weekend possessions during June and July. The contract value is circa £3.5m.