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Tram-Trains Are A Thing, And A Plan To Launch Them In Manchester Is Coming

Manchester's trams at Market Street

November is already shaping up to be a big month for major Manchester policy announcements, with the latest (long delayed) publication of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.

Now a second big announcement is expected, with the imminent publication of Transport for Greater Manchester's 30-year strategy. And the big news will be tram-trains.

Tram-trains, meaning light-railtrams that share space with normal heavy-rail trains, are expected to drive the next phase of expansion of Manchester's mass public transit system, with the south west of the connurbation around Stockport and Tameside the likely beneficiary.

Tram-trains have been operating in the U.K. for only a matter of days: on 25 October the pilot scheme in Sheffield entered into service between the city, the Meadowhall shopping complex and Rotherham. Unfortunately the service almost immediately hit a lorry, Global Rail News reports.

You can read more about the tram-train pilot here.

The potential for tram-trains in Greater Manchester was identified in 2013 and a series of lines selected for further analysis. These include the Stockport to Hale line, Manchester to Glossop and Hadfield, Manchester to Hazel Grove, and Manchester to Wigan and Atherton. The plan was estimated at £870M in 2013. Progress will depend on learning the lessons of the Sheffield experiment.

The new Transport for Greater Manchester plan will build on the existing plans to extend the Airport Line into Wythenshawe, and longer-term options including tunnelled ‘metro-style’ services under the city centre.