The South Manchester Metrolink station is nearing completion, with an opening date penned for later this spring.
While an exact date has not yet been finalised, those involved claim they are happy with the progress.
Phase 3a of ‘The Big Bang’ expansion program will see the Metrolink stop between The St. John Vianney School and Firs Avenue in Firswood, before continuing on to Chorlton.
Councillor Keith Whitmore, Deputy Chairman of Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority, said: “I think everything is going extremely well on the South Manchester line.”
It has not yet been decided whether the line will be opening in stages, or whether the whole track will open at once.
Joanne Sheppard, Media Officer for Transport for Greater Manchester, said: “Infrastructure works on the Firswood stop are complete and the finishing touches are now being put in place.”
Ms Sheppard explained that the new line is currently undergoing testing in order to integrate it with the existing network.
Councillor Whitmore confirmed that the vehicles will be thoroughly tested before the launch, and said that he did not want a repeat of the delays experienced at Media City.
A program of driver training will then be carried out before the line is opened to the public.
Trafford Councillor Brian Rigby, Vice Chair of the TfGMC and Chair of the Bus & TfGM Services Sub-Committee, said: “Work on the new Metrolink line is progressing well and local people have told me that they are looking forward to having the alternative opportunity of travelling by tram.”
The benefits of tram lines are numerous.
A single Metrolink tram can carry about 200 passengers, which would require up to five buses and drivers.
John Moorhouse, company secretary of independent organisation TravelWatch North West, said: “Attracting travel by tram from the Chorlton/Firswood area should help to relieve road congestion.
“Firswood residents will benefit from speedy tram services to and from the city centre.”
Tony Williams, who writes and updates the Light Rail Transit Association Manchester Metrolink website, said: “Metrolink expansion is indeed important for Manchester and Salford City Councils also the surrounding Metropolitan Borough Councils.”
Councillor Rigby added: “[The tram service] provides a clean and quick alternative form of transport, not only directly into the heart of Manchester, but to all stops along the line.”
Councillor Rigby believes that the chance for people to travel to additional locations will give new opportunities for people to access employment and leisure based activities, especially when the system is extended to the Airport, Oldham and Rochdale.
Councillor Whitmore said: “[Residents of south Manchester] are going to have a first class public transport system that is right on their door step.”
Overall, residents are impressed with the progress of the new line, and are anticipating the opening.
Martin Southin, who lives just off Mauldeth Road West, said: “I was taken aback at just how fast things progressed once building actually began.”
Mr Southin said that he will be using the new line a lot to get to the city centre and Didsbury.
NEW LINE: The stops proposed on the South Manchester Metrolink line
Ian Robertson lives just off Oswald Road in Firswood and currently has a 20 minute walk to the nearest tram stop in Old Trafford.
He said: “I will certainly be using the new line. The new stations will make the system much quicker as there will be a much shorter walk to the station.”
“It will be a massive improvement on the poor bus services which currently serve the area,” he added.
However, isn’t hasn’t all been plain sailing – there has been issues with recent delays.
John Holden, from Chorlton, claimed: “I am rather disappointed at the long delay between it being apparently finished and being opened.”
Mr Southin said: “Sure, there seems to be a slowing down of action now on the line, but then they still have until June 21st in order to keep to their spring opening.”
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