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Metrolink Second Crossing – The Deansgate Alternative

Residents present detailed alternative to TfGM for second city crossing

Written by . Published on August 16th 2011.

Metrolink Second Crossing – The Deansgate Alternative

A GROUP of city residents, engineers and others are calling for the proposed second city centre Metrolink crossing to be rethought.

They believe that a Deansgate route coming down from existing viaducts at the Deansgate/Castlefield station would be far more beneficial to the city than the current Cross Street idea.

The group have sent the report below to the people at Transport for Greater Manchester (TFGM) who look after Metrolink. The public consultation period for the second crossing proposals ends 9 September and TfGM have assurred Confidential they will be taking a serious look at the ideas.

We make no apologies for reprinting the Deansgate ideas in full.

For those interested in Manchester's infrastructure we think this is a remarkable, articulate and intelligent document - from an unpaid but expert group who feel it has a better suggestion than the one offered by TfGM.

Have a look through it. If you want to contact the group email Ian Christie at ianchristie2@btinternet.com

The Deansgate Line Group's suggestion starts here.

  • We consider that TfGM have selected the Cross Street route for public consultation without using accurate or complete information.
  • In 2009 the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive (GMPTE) shortlisted 2 routes for detailed study: (a) the Cross Street route and (b) the Deansgate route including a mile running along the Chester Road/A56. 
  • The Deansgate option was so disadvantaged by including this long stretch of Chester Road/A56 that unsurprisingly, in terms of journey times, cost, flexibility etc, the Cross Street route emerged as the preferred option.
  • GMPTE did not make a detailed study of the Deansgate route without this stretch of Chester Road/A56 saying that it was physically not possible to get trams down to the southern end of Deansgate from the existing Castlefield viaduct level.
  • The information on which that decision was based was wholly inadequate. We are able to demonstrate that trams could comfortably come down from the Castlefield viaduct to Deansgate without excessive gradients or extravagant engineering solutions.
  • A ‘direct’ Deansgate route (without the Chester Road/A56) has many advantages over the Cross Street route and would appear superior when assessed against most if not all the criteria given in the GMPTE 2009 report.
  • A ‘direct’ Deansgate route is a viable scheme worthy of proper, detailed investigation and cost benefit comparison with the Cross Street route.
  • Without such a detailed comparison, TfGM cannot claim to have considered a realistic alternative to the Cross Street route or to be providing best value for money.

Peterloo And Tram 014Second Crossing Poster


We strongly support the idea of the Metrolink second city crossing with its potential for:

  • increasing capacity by enabling more trams to pass through the city centre
  • increasing  accessibility to the whole metrolink system by reaching more parts of the city centre
  • increasing flexibility – if there’s a fault or accident on one city centre line trams can be diverted to the other
  • adding to the cosmopolitan, continental feel of one of Europe’s finest city centres.

However, we consider that Cross Street is the wrong route. We consider that the arguments for a Deansgate route are unquestionably stronger and the benefits greater. A Deansgate route would:

  • take the Metrolink network to the western part of the city centre
  • help boost and sustain the economic growth of  Spinningfields, Salford Central, Greengate and Deansgate which are currently remote from Metrolink
  • provide scope for at least three new city centre tram stops and so increases accessibility to the whole network.

By contrast the Cross Street route:

  • runs too close to the existing route in the eastern part of the city centre to significantly increase access to the network
  • leaves Spinningflields, Salford Central, Greengate and Deansgate still remote from Metrolink
  • provides only one new tram stop (not two stops as the Public Consultation 2011 booklet misleadingly suggests – the proposed relocation of the existing stop at St Peter's Square is not a new stop but a relocated stop).

Your decision to choose Cross Street was based on a report to the GMPTE on 18 September 2009 asking you to ‘confirm that Cross Street should be the alignment for the Second City Crossing.’  While this report purports to compare the two options, in our view it is very heavily weighted in favour of the Cross Street route and inadequately researched.

The report says the Deansgate route would cost approximately £55 million more than the Cross Street route – or be more than 50% more expensive to build – and that the Cross Street route would give overall journey times some 33% quicker.

But these costs and timings were based on a Deansgate route that set off from the Altrincham line near Cornbrook and ran for a mile at street level along the A56, Bridgewater Boulevard and Chester Road before reaching Deansgate over the Bridgewater Viaduct. Obviously a mile of on-street running along a busy main road with a large number of junctions is bound to push costs up substantially and have a detrimental impact on timings and reliability.

The report gave only two out of 57 paragraphs to a shorter version of the Deansgsate route which would come down to Deansgate off the Castlefield viaduct from a point near the existing Deansgate/Castlefield station. The report says ‘this variant was not developed’ (i.e. was never fully investigated or costed) because:

  • the ‘impact on surrounding property and road users would be severe’
  • ‘Deansgate would be halved in width… between Great Bridgewater Street and Whitworth Street’
  • the ‘large difference in… levels’ between the viaduct and Deansgate would mean the line ‘would not…reach ground level by the end of Bridgewater Street’.

These statements are inaccurate. Only one small property on the corner of Deansgate and Bridgewater Street would require demolition and our attached robust engineering document demonstrates that the line could reach ground level by the end of Bridgewater Street and would not require halving the width of Deansgate between Great Bridgewater Street and Whitworth Street. It seems extraordinary that the report was so hasty to abandon what would be a much better proposal.

An alternative way down to Deansgate (apparently never even considered) would be down a slope into Watson Street and then across the square in front of the Great Northern into Deansgate with a station in the square. Obviously the square would need to be redesigned but this is unlikely to be any more costly or complicated (probably less so) than the redesign of St Peter’s Square needed for the Cross Street option.

Either route could have the advantage of bringing the disused part of Castlefield viaduct, a Grade 2 listed building currently in a condition of controlled decay, back into use. Funding from English Heritage, the National Lottery or the Department of Transport through BRB (Residuary) Ltd would probably be available towards the cost of restoration.

(We fully support the proposal to transform this viaduct into a green walkway – ‘the Hanging Gardens of Castlefield’ – should it remain disused. However, we think it far better to see a structure built for railways 120 years ago brought back into use for the purpose for which it was intended.)

Interchange with the existing route could be at Cornbrook or, in the case of the Watson Street alignment, at a redesigned at Deansgate/Castlefield station.  TfGM are proposing a new station at this site anyway - the ‘Manchester Central Interchange’ linking Deansgate railway station with Deansgate/Castlefield Metrolink station.

Having the interchange above ground level at either of these stations would mean St Peter’s Square could be redesigned as a major pedestrian civic space, and the location of the Cenotaph considered, without the need to accommodate four trams lines, a tram junction and two platforms.

Cenotaph MovedCurrent second crossing plan for St Peter's Square

A key advantage of the Deansgate route is that it would help sustain the regeneration of Spinningfields and transformation of the Greengate area of Salford. This area is to be “transformed into a distinctive mixed use urban quarter, helping to consolidate the Regional Centre’s European status. The transformation will combine high quality commercial and residential properties with leisure uses, dramatic public spaces and new waterside environments.”  A Metrolink stop in or near this area would undoubtedly help this planned transformation.

We admire the vision, ambition and tenacity of TfGM and its predecessor the GMPTE in promoting and developing the Metrolink network. The expansions currently underway are brilliant and will give Manchester the largest tram network in the UK. We know further expansions have been considered: conversion to Metrolink of railway lines from Manchester to Marple, to Wigan via Atherton, to Bolton and from Bury to Rawtenstall.

We ask you to carry on being ambitious and visionary and not to settle for second-best short-termist inadequately researched proposals for the second city crossing. We need an ambitious city centre tram system providing maximum accessibility and flexibility as well as increased capacity.

At the time of the 2009 report the Cross Street route may have appeared to be cheaper and quicker to build than the Deansgate route but at that time: 

  • the route was from Lower Mosley Street along Mount Street into Albert Square and didn’t involve a major redesign of St Peter’s Square with relocation of the Cenotaph and the construction of a two platform interchange station, and
  • the routes into Deansgate we have put forward had not been technically investigated or fully costed. 

Even if a detailed cost-benefit analysis were to show the Cross Street route still to be significantly cheaper (which we very much doubt), we do not consider that cost is the only or most important consideration when deciding on a city centre Metrolink infrastructure fit for purpose for the next 100 years. 

We ask you to carry out a detailed and transparent technical and cost-benefit analysis of our two Deansgate routes before reaching a decision on the second city crossing.

The Deansgate Line Group's document finishes here.


Where the line would break from the existing Metrolink line at the southern end of DeansgateWhere the line would break from the existing Metrolink line at the southern end of Deansgate




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33 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

MAugust 16th 2011.

Nice idea about Watson street. Could be a little tight up by the Great Northern apartments; electrified cables and 1st floor balconies won't make for a good mix.

I can't find the GMPTE (or whatever they're now called) proposal for the Deansgate route.

I suspect any Deansgate alignment would still be a fair bit slower. The Cross Street route would be largely devoid of traffic, whereas Deansgate moves at walking pace at rush hour.

Also, I expect any Deansgate route would still have to turn up past M&S and towards Cross Street in order to meet Victoria at the from the correct side. The original proposal would clear that up.

Regardless, it's good to see people taking the time to challenge the proposals. Good work.

EugeneAugust 16th 2011.

Interesting ideas. It's commendable that people have taken the time and effort to challenge the status quo and dissapointing that the deansgate option was apparently not properly considered.
I agree in principle with a second city crossing but cannot see the value in the cross st idea.

Cross st and surrounding junctions the tram would traverse down are a bit tight.

I wonder where the demand us at the moment- more access to cross st or to deansgate? A fairly direct route down most of deansgate does seem to offer more value and accessibility to a greater area than cross st.

Plus, the idea of a stop in Exchange Sq is a hideous one. It's already cluttered by te big wheel. Inmagine replacing that with trams? It would be too busy.

Move the wheel to the new greengate site (when completed) and have a team stop there, opposite the cathedral.

AnonymousAugust 17th 2011.

I think it would definitely make more sense to users of the Metrolink for the 2nd crossing to go down Deansgate with a stop outside of Spinningfields. I really hope that TfGM take on board the suggestions, I have also included a similar suggestion in my response to the consultation and urge everyone else to also have a say in the matter if you have an opinion.

NiBsAugust 17th 2011.

Makes much more sense to put more distance between the existing line ... wholly in favour of the Deansgate route.

StretfordSimonAugust 17th 2011.

A typical engineer's solution - focus one one particular problem - in this case getting the line onto Deansgate and ignore the other issues - Access to Victoria, closing Deansgate for x months to allow for rails and overhead wires to be put in place and most importantly, Spinningfields would be the only viable place for a stop. Even then, it will need to eat into the space of Lincoln Square and the area beside John Rylands library opposite

The Cross Street option and the redesign of St Peters Sq, gives us an interchange at the south of the city mirroring that of Victoria to allow people to change between routes heading south. The Deansgate option means people having to change at Cornbrook which when the Airport and Didsbury lines come along is something it was never designed for.

While I agree that the Cross Street option is not ideal, it is the least worst...

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousAugust 17th 2011.

A typical short-termist reply!

Short term disruption should not be considered when assessing the 2CC options. Since we're potentially looking at the future of public transport over the next century it doesn't seem fair to not chose a good option based on some temporary disruption. What matters is the long termer operation of the network and the delivery of the best possible solution to tram users.

Currently the east side of the city is very poorly served and the Cross St option does nothing to remedy this. The large number of residents and businesses in Spinningfields, Greengate, Deansgate could all stand to benefit greatly from the Deansgate option.

Clearly the solution is a full and proper evaluation of ALL the 2CC options, just as the authors of the Trams4Deansgate campaign have requested! Good luck to them and I support their calls.

AnonymousAugust 17th 2011.

Oops - I meant the *west* side of the city is currently very poorly served...

StretfordSimonAugust 17th 2011.

I agree regarding the disruption and I agree it is not an ideal long term solution. If I had my way, it would go much, much further than 'just' Deansgate. I just don't think it can be done within budget without being a short term solution itself

tblzebraAugust 17th 2011.

Did they include maps &/or diagrams? If so, please could you add some of them, as it's difficult to picture where and how the proposed route runs.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
tblzebraAugust 17th 2011.

Pleeease, pretty please.

AnonymousAugust 17th 2011.

there are showing some diagrams on their facebook site Trams4Deansgate:


Sara JohnsonAugust 17th 2011.

I agree, I thought it was ridiculous when I saw the new second crossing, all that expense for one new stop which is a 5 minute walk but a 10 minute wait away from the stop at Victoria - totally pointless. I catch my train at Salford Central and work at Spinningfields and it is true that this side of Manchester has been neglected by public transport. If the Deansgate idea does go ahead then maybe something could be sorted out in the future to make up for the insanity that is happening to the roads along The Crescent. It's difficult enough getting into Manchester already with only being offered one train and hour and last train home is 6.30pm but at least I used to be able to catch a bus if necessary, maybe even drive if I could get a second mortgage to pay for parking costs, now those options have gone. It used to take approximately an hour and a quarter to travel into Manchester on the bus in the morning on a good day (only 7 miles), I think that can be doubled now. I would like a future Metrolink extension along The Crescent and past Salford University, terminating at a large Park & Ride area either in Salford or Irlams O'th' Height. Sorry, getting carried away there, I'm just someone who uses public transport every day, what do I know? Anyway, I live on the wrong side of Manchester, most of any budget goes to south and when any money is spent it seems it is to hinder not help Alas, poor Crescent! - so long and thanks for all the fish.

Frank LloydAugust 17th 2011.

This, or something very close to it, would be a much better solution for people who use or visit the city, in particular the Spinningfields/Deansgate/Salford areas. The proposals now on the table are what there description says a "2nd city crossing". Better if you want to be sure of getting across the city quickly but not much use otherwise. The idea of an Exchange Square stop is laughable; it's within 200 metres of Victoria and Shudehill stops and the existing shops need a physical barrier to movement as much as Market Street does.......that worked! Not.

AnonymousAugust 17th 2011.

How do people get involved in groups such as this, i would happily put whatever time and energy i could into assisting.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousAugust 17th 2011.

Email Ian ianchristie2@btinternet.com but I think there's a facebook group and potentially a website in the pipeline (having listened to Radio Manchester discussing it this morning)

The campaign is called Trams4Deansgate

AnonymousAugust 17th 2011.

I'd would love to know who these engineers were? Was it the fat controller from Thomas the Tank Engine?

I do like ManCon but please stick to Gordo's food reviews and like!! I do like to read the website as a break from work, now you have got people ranting about trains/trams like they are experts. What next? Open debate about the best teaching methods for children? How about advising nurses how best to treat patients?or how about telling the police how to deal with the rioters...too far sorry...

I used to commute for an hour each way using public transport, until I had enough and I moved. No one is forcing you to stay in Irlam.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousAugust 17th 2011.

The engineer's credentials can be found on the facebook page - search for 'trams4deansgate'.

I hope you are equally qualified to make this appraisal and can back it up? I doub't it

AnonymousAugust 17th 2011.

The engineer has a fair bit of experience in major projects, including work for the Olympics and difficult rail projects in London. Oh yeah, and a Masters degree from Cambridge University. Perhaps we should consider what Trams4Deansgate and their engineer have to say!!!!

AnonymousAugust 17th 2011.

How disturbing to find someone who's only apparent interest in the future of the city is in the reviews of a restaurant critic! Surely you must have opinions!?

Public consultation and involvement can be a great way to improve all our futures - or do you just want to be told how to live your life by the Government and it's QUANGOs?

Jonathan SchofieldAugust 17th 2011.

We're a magazine for Manchester Anon, look down the homepage, at the variety of stories we run. If some doctors sent me a considered letter on how to run our hospitals better I'd publish it if it sounded well-thought through. Same with the police, unless you think we should just let the public services dictate policy without being questioned.

Jill JillianAugust 17th 2011.

Keep in mind these plans haven't just been thought up they're probably five years in the making ,the idea that the council are going to change their plans now is naive,they only put it out to public consultation to cover themselves,the extra route is to allow for accidents and all to frequent breakdowns,its going to happen we'll have to live with it.As for running trams down Deansgate can anyone remember the idea the MOSI had of running heritage type trams through the city ,they would be an attraction and probably more reliable

@A_WyattAugust 17th 2011.

I am extremely delighted to hear that my thoughts have been put onto paper, and agree wholeheartedly, to the use of the Viaduct and Deansgate for the extension.
Surely the whole idea of promoting and constructing a second line is to enable the entire city to become easily accessible and provide an effective infrastructure.

To “take the Metrolink network to the western part of the city centre [would] help boost and sustain the economic growth of Spinningfields, Salford Central, Greengate and Deansgate which are currently remote from Metrolink.” It seems counterproductive to develop Spinningfields and Greengate which are difficult areas to access from either Piccadilly and Victoria as it is, albeit with the exception of the Metroshuttle.

We should be mindful of other European cities or even Melbourne; these cities have been using successful tram systems in conjunction with road traffic for years.

Furthermore, why move the cenotaph at an extra unnecessary expenditure, remoulding and disregarding the green space of the peace garden, which celebrates Manchester’s recognition around the world as the first city to declare itself a ‘nuclear free’ city.

For Manchester to be successful in business and retail, we undeniably do need to improve our transport systems, but must have regard for the finer details of how it will work long-term.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousAugust 17th 2011.

I agree wholeheartedly, especially with the idea of taking the tram system to the booming (well, as booming as there is in the current climate) businesses and living areas in Spinningfields, Salford, Greengate and Deansgate.

Well, except for the "nuclear free city" reference and the "peace garden". The nuclear free city is codswallop (Manchester being powered by a good lsice of nuclear electricity, host to a major nuclear research university and home to large population of nuclear scientists, engineers and inspectors) and the peace garden is a gloomy, damp and urine-smelling collection of foliage and litter... Different debates to come there :-).

AnonymousAugust 17th 2011.

Not to mention protected by the UK nuclear deterrent, nuclear-powered conventionally-armed submarines and with a proud history of contributions to understanding the atom, radioactivity, nuclear power and nuclear medicine. The latter of which is a critical focus of cancer therapy, such as that pioneered at the world-famous Chritie hospital.

Nuclear free city indeed.

SmittyAugust 17th 2011.

Is the idea of the second crossing not more about being able to increase the capacity on the extended network, rather than more stops in the city centre? A Deansgate route would make sense, but is it not much more costly? Personally, I'd love to see Deansgate as a vast pedestrian boulevard. I grew up in Belfast at a time when the main street, Royal Avenue, was closed to most traffic due to some local difficulties and it was good...

AnonymousAugust 17th 2011.

I agree with the point that a tram line along Deansgate would increase business opportunities. But what do they propose to do with the number of cars that travel up and down Deansgate on a daily basis - especially the congestion that is caused during rush hour - where is this traffic likely to be displaced onto?

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousAugust 17th 2011.

The tram system is our only real hope for an effective system of transport going forwards for the next few decades. If we allowed everything to be dictated by the car we may as well tarmac the entire city and build flyovers galore.

With some proper thought and investment (such as that being proposed by TfGM and the Trams4Deansgate campaign). The traffic could be displaced onto driveways around the region - as the car owners use the tram!

Tom HilesAugust 18th 2011.

Yes eventually it would be ideal for everybody to be able to commute without driving. However the reality is that only a small proportion of people in Greater Manchester are in easy reach of the tram. The rest will continue to need to drive, so for the foreseeable future the question about traffic along Deansgate stands.

Calum McGAugust 25th 2011.

If you speak to TfGM their official policy is that they want to REDUCE cars along Deansgate. Bemoaning traffic issues is short-termism in my humble opinion... having been to Hong Kong, Singapore, Melbourne and Auckland - these great cities/nations are investing heavily in public transport. In HK, around 90% of commuting is by public transport. If we do not invest in our systems people will never leave their cars...

AnonymousAugust 17th 2011.

There is another western option that avoids major roadworks:
From Victoria across Exchange Square/Deansgate and onto St Mary's Parsonage via the Ramada site. A stop just before Bridge Street and then along Dolefield/Crown Sq. Through Spinningfields, crossing Quay St and then along Lwr Byrom St for a MOSI stop. Finally rising up Duke St to rejoin the line with an interchange at Cornbrook.

1 Response: Reply To This...
NonAugust 18th 2011.

That's a bit out of the way for the major centres of activity, no? Not sure how many people commute to the MOSI area.

JS3August 23rd 2011.

If cost wasn't an option the most suitable route would be underground, as was proposed quite some years ago. Sadly Deansgate would be the best on-road route, something i'd use myself too, how the traffic would be diverted away will pose a problem though.

Calum McGAugust 25th 2011.

Please visit and 'Like' our Facebook campaign. Search for trams4deansgate or visit http://www.facebook.com/Trams4Deansgate - it's a wonderful campaign to help bring trams back to the west side of the city centre and deliver a better transport infrastructure than proposed by TfGM. There's plenty of info on the FB site, so please take a few mins to look. Finally - if we get enough 'Likes' then we can get some more press... so it would be a HUGE help :) (We have 58 so far but would like more than 100 to start making some extra noise). Ali.

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