More than 250 Metrolink drivers have gone through intensive training ahead of the opening of the Second City Crossing tram route.
The new route connects the expanded St Peter’s Square stop with Exchange Square and Victoria Station via Princess Street and Cross Street and is due to open on February 26.
In advance of its official opening, drivers have undergone an extensive training programme, using new simulator software ‘Tram-Pro’ to get familiar with the new routes, junctions, signals and stops.
The training programme and use of this innovative new software has been developed by Metrolink operators RATP Dev Ltd, alongside a specialist company.
Transport for Greater Manchester’s Metrolink Director, Peter Cushing, said: “Thanks to state-of-the-art technology at our training depot, including the innovative simulator software, more than 250 drivers are already well-versed with the new Second City Crossing.
“This is a very exciting time for us: training for drivers is one of the final pieces of the jigsaw that we’re putting in place before the line opens.”
The simulator has allowed drivers to test the route before building work was finished, preventing the frequent delays found in such large transport projects.
A TfGM spokesperson said: “Manchester Metrolink has undergone a massive expansion over the last few years and we couldn’t use traditional training methods to train the number of drivers as quickly as we needed to.
“That’s what necessitated the building of the ‘Tram-Pro’ simulator. We’ve now got the entire Manchester tram network modelled in 3D.”
The new technology avoids further disruption to travel and closures in the city centre and means route can be opened earlier than otherwise possible.
The Second City Crossing is part of TfGM’s Grow project, which is seeing more than £1billion invested into city centre infrastructure improvements by 2017.
Along with the new tram route, the Grow project has provided six new cycle routes into the city centre, rail improvements and bus priority measures.