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Manchester airport tram line to open early

20 Jun 14 While the construction of tram networks has brought expensive headaches for some UK cities, Manchester Metrolink’s new airport extension is set to open a year early, the contractors have announced.

The MPT consortium, comprising VolkerRail, Laing O'Rourke and Thales, said that the new Metrolink line to Wythenshawe and Manchester Airport will open before the end of 2014.

First trams will start to run along part of the route from Monday 23rd June as the first stages of testing and commissioning.

The 14.5km line has seen the construction of several major new structures, including a viaduct over the Mersey Valley, two new bridges over the M60 and M56, and the Ringway Road dual carriageway and underpass at Manchester Airport.

All of the existing highway and street lighting and road signs along the entire route have been renewed and significant urban realm improvements have been made around each of the line’s 15 new stops. Services will initially run between Manchester Airport and Cornbrook, every 12 minutes. They will start to run through the city centre once the Second City Crossing is complete in 2017.

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Councillor Andrew Fender, chair of the Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) committee, said: “The sheer scale of the challenges this project presented make its early completion a truly phenomenal achievement. To be so far ahead is down to several marginal gains adding up to a significant result: the early delivery of a number of lines allowed us to move resources onto the line earlier; lessons learnt during the early phases of the expansion drove efficiencies across work areas; creating a desktop simulator cut the timescales for driver training in half. These are just a few examples of how, by working closely with local authorities, utility firms, our principal contractor MPT, stakeholders and the operator MRDL, we’ve become an ultra-efficient machine – and this is our collective reward.”

MPT project director Bryan Glass said: “Our team has demonstrated the skills, professionalism and dedication that are increasingly required in British engineering and major project delivery. A planned and strategic approach, applying the latest methodology such as offsite manufacturing of major components, allowed us to make significant savings without compromising safety or quality. There’s a huge amount of pride in us all, knowing the first trams will shortly commence testing, eventually forming this new transport artery for Manchester.”

The airport line will bring the size of the Metrolink network to 92.5km (57.5 miles), serving 92 stops.

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