Manchester Metrolink

Successful and early delivery of Manchester Metrolink extensions and service enhancements triple the size of the original network.


  • Manchester, North West England, UK


  • Transport for Greater Manchester

Project Status

  • Ongoing

Increasing Mobility in Manchester

WSP was appointed in 2007 as Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM)’s Delivery Partner for the £1.9bn Metrolink extensions and enhancement program. This has already seen the Metrolink network triple in size with nearly 60km of new tramway now operating. Our services entail the full integration and co-location of our team with that of TfGM and include the provision of comprehensive engineering management, program management, commercial management, project controls and stakeholder engagement services.

Our accomplishments as part of the TfGM Metrolink Integrated Delivery team are extensive. Highlights include:

  • Bringing 5 new lines into service in 11 phases – with 24.5km of new line opening significantly ahead of schedule. Most recently, the 14.5km extension to Manchester Airport opened to passengers in November 2014, over a year ahead of schedule.
  • Development of innovative solutions to Tram Management System requirements, enabling new lines to open according to expectations.
New tramway length
60 km 60 km
New lines
5 5
92 92

Light Rail Awards

The project is widely recognized as a success story, receiving numerous awards, notably the National Transport Awards special award for "outstanding performance". The project also received numerous Light Rail Awards including Project of the Year for three consecutive years, and has recently won the Chartered Institute for Highways and Transportation Major Projects Award and the National Rail Civil Engineering award for the extension to Manchester Airport. The project won the 2012 British Precast Concrete Award for the highest levels of innovation, quality and efficiency in its tram stop platform construction.

Our role has recently been extended into 2017 to deliver the Metrolink Second City Crossing, now under construction. Furthermore, successful approval of the TWAO for the new Trafford Park Line would see our tenure extended to 2019.

Agile Engineering

Tackling critical issues - the program constantly being within or ahead of schedule demonstrates our fast response to emerging issues. Most notably, we worked closely with Metrolink RATP Dev Limited (MRDL) to develop an alternative rail junction control solution, to bring forward the opening of the South Manchester Line. Our determination to find better alternatives in the face of sudden and seemingly overwhelming problems has been fundamental to project success.

Finding new ways to overcome challenges is a key component of our program management practices. Our approach to innovation is not limited to novel technical solutions. We seek and apply innovation through scheme development, risk management and immediate reaction to critical issues. Examples include:

  • Fully integrated team working: Full integration of the delivery team within TfGM’s organization with strong knowledge transfer ensured effective development of TfGM’s program management capabilities.

  • Management of a complex stakeholder environment: We have implemented extensive stakeholder engagement activities to support the delivery program. We also rigorously manage contracting parties and have developed highly effective integrated programming methods to ensure we retained the continued support of all major stakeholders and met public expectations.

  • Scheme development: The original design for the Oldham Town Centre extension was costly and put funding approval at risk. We developed a solution to construct an at-grade tramway integrated with a fully remodeled highway layout, which has transformed the area to support wider regeneration plans, with significant cost savings.

  • Risk management: Utility diversions are a key cost and program risk for Light Rail Schemes. They were a huge project in their own right, with over 500 separate contracts worth £105M. Our development of specific solutions to individual problems was a major achievement. We achieved a £10M saving and a nine month reduction on the overall utility diversions program, an effort recognized by the Light Rail Awards.