The Manchester Metrolink is popularly known as simply the Metrolink. It began operation on 6 April 1992.
Owned by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), the Metrolink network encompasses ninety-nine stops along 65 miles of track. It is currently operated and maintained by a consortium jointly administered by Keolis and Amey.
After starting with only two, the Altrincham and Bury lines, today the Metrolink network consists of eight lines which pan out from central Manchester. These lines reach their final destinations in Altrincham, Ashton-Under-Lyne, Bury, Easy Didsbury, Eccles, Manchester Airport, Rochdale and Trafford Centre.
After a failed initiative to develop a tunnel connecting two of central Manchester’s largest train stations, Piccadilly and Victoria, a light-rail alternative was conceived in 1982. In 1988, the proposal was granted Government approval and, following extensive construction work, the network began operating in 1992.
The Metrolink network has been expanded over the course of the almost three decades since its inception, in various phases.
Phase 1 (1992) Bury – Piccadilly – Altrincham
Phase 2 (1999-2000) Eccles
Phase 3a (2009-2013) Rochdale – Droylsden
Phase 3b (2013-2014) Ashton – East Didsbury – Manchester Airport
Second City Crossing (2017)
Trafford Park Line (2020)
The latest fleet of trams operated by Metrolink include the Bombardier M5000 model. Today, the fleet consists of a total number of 120 Bombardier M5000s, with twenty-seven more set to join the active fleet in August 2020. Each of the vehicle has a total peak capacity of 206 passenger, which includes options of 52 and 60 standard seats.
Prior to the Bombardier M5000, Metrolink operated AnsaldoBreda models. Between 1992 and 1999, the AnsaldoBreda T-68 comprised the whole fleet. In 1999, AnsaldoBreda T-68As were introduced to the network, upon the development of the Eccles line.
In 2007, Metrolink made history, achieving a much-lauded feat. The Manchester-based light-rail service became the first in the UK to be supplied by sustainable energy. Originally operated by hydropower, the energy now is generated by biomass.