The new city centre Exchange Square tram stop is set to open on Sunday 6 December, transport leaders announced today.
The opening date – subject to successful completion of testing and commissioning work in the coming days – is a boost for the busy city centre shopping and leisure district in the run up to Christmas.
It will also mark a major milestone for the transformational Second City Crossing, a new tram line through the heart of the city due to fully open in 2017.
The striking island-style Exchange Square stop is in the heart of the busy shopping and leisure district, right outside the Manchester Arndale and near the Corn Exchange, Printworks and – during December – the Christmas Markets.
Services will initially run between Shaw and Crompton and Exchange Square via the brand new outbound Platform D, opening the same day at Victoria Station’s new-look Metrolink stop. Inbound trams from Oldham will continue to use Victoria stop Platform A.
Combined with the Rochdale via Oldham line service, the new line means a six-minute daytime service between Shaw and Crompton, Oldham and the city centre from Monday to Saturday, with a less frequent service on Sundays.
There are more than 800 FREE car parking spaces combined at Shaw & Crompton, Derker, Oldham Mumps and Hollinwood stops, giving Metrolink customers the chance to park and ride into the heart of the city to enjoy all the Christmas fun on offer.
There will be some changes to other Metrolink services from 6 December, although most are unaffected. Full service details are available online now at www.metrolink.co.uk or by calling Metrolink Customer Services on 0161 205 2000.
Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) Metrolink Director, Peter Cushing, said: “We’ve pulled out all the stops to get the new line to Exchange Square up and running before Christmas, which will be great news for the city and particularly Rochdale via Oldham line customers.
“In the days ahead we’ll be in the last stages of an extensive testing and commissioning process to get the stop, surrounding roads and Metrolink drivers ready for services going live.
“Services to Exchange Square will also see us open a new platform at Victoria stop, meaning some changes for passengers and trams.
“Our customers’ safety is a priority and we’ll have staff at both stops in the first weeks of service to make sure that people are taking extra care and looking out for trams running in different areas than people are used to.
“While most Metrolink services will remain the same from 6 December, I’d advise all passengers to visit our website to see what the new Exchange Square stop opening will mean for them.”
The brand new Exchange Square stop and Second City Crossing is being delivered by TfGM and its delivery partners, WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff. The principal contractor is M-Pact Thales (MPT), a consortium consisting of Laing O’Rourke, VolkerRail and Thales, with RATP Dev Ltd responsible for operating the Metrolink network.
Like all Metrolink stops, Exchange Square will be fully accessible with ramped access, ticket machines, smart card readers, passenger emergency facilities and a PA system.
A clean, uncluttered design sees passenger information displays and seating integrated into polished concrete columns to give the stop a sleek look.
The stylish stop also boasts a striking coloured steel and glass canopy – with four ‘floating’ overlapping glazed roof panels.
TfGM and Manchester City Council worked with architects to ensure that the tram stop makes the most of limited space in Exchange Square while keeping plenty of room for pedestrians.
The new Second City Crossing line will start at St Peter’s Square and run down Princess Street, along Cross Street and Corporation Street, Exchange Square and into Manchester Victoria station.
As part of the Second City Crossing project the Deansgate-Castlefield stop has been completely transformed, and work is under way to build a brand new tram stop in St Peter’s Square, which is being relocated and expanded from two platforms to four.
The stop improvements at Exchange Square, Deansgate-Castlefield and Victoria have been made possible by a grant from the European Regional Development Fund.
The Second City Crossing is part of a co-ordinated three-year programme of works, known collectively as Grow, which will enable Manchester city centre to flourish for years to come.
Between now and 2017, the city centre will see more than £1bn of investment in projects to lay the foundations for continuing success by ‘future proofing’ the city’s transport infrastructure.
Also under the Grow umbrella are a series of major regeneration projects. Together they add up to a wave of investment unprecedented since the mid-1990s.
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