New TramTrains for Manchester?

As interest in TramTrain grows abroad, we are left with Translink’s SkyTrain only planning.

The lack of flexibility of SkyTrain will soon hamstring our urban rail system under the weight of massive subsidies and debt serving costs.

TramTrain, first designed to make transit more user friendly, by eliminating transfers, now seems to be the affordable and user-friendly transit system than can affordably connect communities with major urban centres.

Three tram-train trials in Manchester investment plan

07 Jan 2019

UK: Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham introduced the city region’s revised long-term spatial strategy on January 7, which includes a transport investment vision running to 2040.

The transport vision sets out how Greater Manchester’s wider economic objectives can be met through targeted infrastructure investment. It includes a Draft Delivery Plan running to 2025, which is intended to pave the way for the longer-term objectives to be realised. These include a target for no more than 50% of journeys to be completed by private car.

Public transport investment is targeted primarily at enhancing capacity and undertaking asset renewals on the 97 km Metrolink light rail network, developing more bus rapid transit routes, and working with Network Rail and franchisees to improve suburban rail services. Other key objectives include integrating the planned High Speed 2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail projects at a local level, and assessing the case for opening more tram stops and rail stations on existing lines where local development is planned.

The plan supports development of tram-train technology, which is now being trialled for the first time in the UK in Sheffield. Transport for Greater Manchester says it intends to prepare business cases for three ‘pathfinder’ routes, linking the existing light rail terminus at Altrincham with Hale; Bury and Rochdale; and Manchester Airport and Wilmslow. It is likely that the Bury – Rochdale route would partly share the alignment of the heritage East Lancashire Railway. These ‘pathfinder’ projects would be used to test the viability of tram-trains ahead of a wider roll-out to several local rail corridors, including Manchester – Wigan via Atherton, Manchester – Warrington Central and Manchester – Glossop.

Several light rail extensions are also to be evaluated for implementation in 2025-40. These include a possible cross-city tram tunnel linking Cornbrook with an expanded Piccadilly station, relieving pressure on the two existing surface tramways through central Manchester. Other proposals include a branch from the Bury line to serve Middleton, an eastern extension of the Ashton line to Stalybridge, and a light rail or tram-train link between Stockport and Manchester Airport.

A number of other investments are also proposed, which would be funded through developer contributions. These include a Metrolink extension from the Trafford Centre, terminus of a route now under construction, to Port Salford, and a tram stop at Sandhills north of Manchester city centre where the Bury and Oldham lines diverge.


3 Responses to “New TramTrains for Manchester?”
  1. steve says:

    It is so sad we can not get many politicians off the skytrain kool aid. So many better systems out there yet they won’t even entertain them and if they do Bullies like Doug McCallum get things change.

    Yes teh Surrey LRT could of been planned a bit better but now there is nothing for that area for generations.Old Dougie did not even try to ‘make it better’ so to speak….LRT would of been great for Newton-Whalley-Guildford (Way more people than Langley) and even to White Rock now we get a train to no where that will end around Fry’s Corner… I doubt it will ever hit langley. UBC would come first then this blog mentions how xpo line has to be upgraded…

    Are tax payers going to be happy to pay all these billions? By the time it hits Langley, UBC and Expo Line updated/upgraded that could push costs to 15 if not 20 billion….if it even gets done….let alone costs to make ‘Canada line’ stations longer…

    We all know there will be towers all along extensions to UBC and the two Langley’s so why does not translink or municipalities get developers to pay a fee? They are the ones that will be benefiting and these lines are like a subsidy to them in a way….

    It is just sad politicians do not respect tax payers. Not to mention on a side note do we really need two Langley’s, two North Vancouver’s and Two Coquitlams? That just shows too how politicians waste tax dollars…..

    I wonder if the cold snap and more snow tonight will knock ‘SkyTrain’ out of service tonight or Friday morning? Would not surprise me…

  2. Haveacow says:

    What is interesting is the path Manchester Metrolink LRT first used. Cheap abandoned railway lines with small street running sections to major railway stations. Then smaller disused railway lines and longer median surface roadway sections. Then in the last phase of lines small sections or almost no abandoned railway lines with a huge variety of roadway medians, side lane rights of way, private rights of way beside roadways, then and only then above grade concrete rights of way. The current line under construction costs £350,000,000 ($625,000,000 CAD) for 5.6 km. The right of way changes to 8 different types over that short distance and ends in a station located in the parking lot of the UK’s largest indoor shopping mall. It also required the rebuilding of a section of motorway (expressway), something Manchester is known for. The line includes the cost of a massive station at Old Trafford Park, this is the location of the 75,000 seat stadium which is the home to the world famous Manchester United Football team.

    The high cost of this line almost £62.5 million per km or $112 miĺlion (CAD) per km, yes this is high cost for them, the complete lack of any large sections of remaining abandoned railway right of way, the need to change the form of the LRT right of way every 300 or so metres and the wish to not have to move entire roads and bridges to build future LRT lines has meant existing underused railway lines needed to be considered. Thus Tram-Trains are now being seriously considered.

    The 3 pathfinder Tram-Train routes are a combined length of about 22 km, with another 70 km of Tram-Train route being planned after that and another 15 km of standard LRT routes means about 107 km of LRT right of way built in the next 15 years for about $5.5-$7.5 Billion (CAD) . They have already built about 65km of LRT right of way in the last 15 years for about $3.4 Billion (CAD). Currently, they have built an LRT network of 97 km since the first line opened in 1992. There running total in cost is about 80% of what Vancouver has spent on the running total for the Skytrain Network. Keep in mind for $7.0-$7.5 Billion CAD your are getting 12.5 km -13 km of Skytrain under Broadway for $500 million more they’re getting 107 km of service. This is why Tram-Train is so seriously being looked at by many Transit Agencies worldwide.

    To be fair, each of their 7 lines have a 5-6 minute peak hour service frequency, 10-12 minutes off peak however, this means the 2 sets of combined common tracks in the core areas of the city have a train coming every 1-2 minutes during the peak hours, which is very useful if your travelling short distances or are traveling to 1 of their 3 major railway stations and their extremely frequent local commuter routes. Spending less than Vancouver they have built a enormous network of 7 lines over 97 km, which could double in mileage during the next 15 years to a network of over 200 km spread over as many as 13 possible lines. With that kind of coverage 5 to 6 minute waits between trains are fine!

  3. Haveacow says:

    Currently Manchester’s Airport is served not only by the LRT but their mainline commuter/Regonal railway network as well. The HS2 Program or High Speed Network Expansion #2 Program will link Manchester’s Piccadilly Station, Manchester Airport, Birmingham’s main railway station and airport to London with High Speed Trains. A concurrent program of regional railway service expansion will mean a doubling of train service between Liverpool through Manchester and Leeds to York ovrr ghe next decade.

    This LRT expansion with improved connections to regional transport hubs has had a hidden bonus for Manchester. During 2015-2016, I was hired by the NHL to look at Manchester being included in possible European expansion of the NHL.

    The M.E.N. Arena (Manchester Evening Newspaper) which is the largest NHL compatible arena in the UK with an attedance capacity of 18500 for hockey games, already holds Manchester’s Hockey Team in the British Premier Hockey League and is located right beside Manchester’s Victoria Railway Station, the second busiest railway station in the region.

    The station had just undergone a transformation in 2015 turning what was considered the worst railway station in the UK in both looks and function, into a stunning example of modern transportation architecture. Railway platforms were improved and the LRT stop inside the station got a massive 3 track two platform capacity improvement. Longer, wider platforms and a desperately needed 3rd track, not only allows more LRT lines to service the station but allows an easy 30-45 second, no stairs walk to the station’s regoonal/commuter stub tracks. A new walkway gives easy connections to the station’s through track area and high capacity pedestrian link to the MEN Arena. The arena’s structure is incorporated into the through track portion of the railway station.

    With 2 interested, heavily pocketed ownership groups interested in NHL expansion in Manchester, it is more than likely to be in the first group of European cities when European expansion happens in 10-15 years. With 3 miĺlion people in the greater Manchester area and good level of existing hockey interest as well as an existing arena located beside a hub of railway and LRT service. It was an easy yes. Both ownership groups each either own outright or share control of an existing British Premiership Football team. Representatives of both groups told me (independent of each other) when I was preparing the final report that, even the most expensive NHL team is a virtual bargain in costs compared to owning and running British Premiership Football teams.

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