Airport Line (Manchester Metrolink)

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Airport Line
Tram Across the Mersey, David Dixon, 4237015.jpg
A M5000 tram passing over the purpose built viaduct over the River Mersey on the Airport Line.
TypeTram/Light rail
SystemManchester Metrolink
LocaleSouth Manchester
TerminiSt Werburgh’s Road
Manchester Airport
Opened3 November 2014
CharacterReserved track and
street running
Rolling stockM5000
Line length9 miles (14.5 km)[1]
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Electrification750 volts DC overhead
Operating speed50 mph (80km/h)
Route map

Trafford Bar
St Werburgh's Road
Barlow Moor Road
Sale Water Park Parking
Northern Moor
Wythenshawe Park
Moor Road
Wythenshawe Town Centre BSicon BUS.svg
Robinswood Road
Peel Hall
Manchester Airport National Rail Airport interchange BSicon BUS.svg

The Airport Line is a tram line of the Manchester Metrolink in Greater Manchester running from Manchester city centre to Manchester Airport via the suburb of Wythenshawe. The line was opened in November 2014 as part of phase three of the system's expansion.


The line runs mostly on reserved track alignments with short sections of street–running. The southern half of the route mostly uses the wide grass verges alongside roads.[2]

From Manchester city centre, the route is shared with the Altrincham Line as far as Trafford Bar, and then the South Manchester Line as far as St Werburgh's Road. The Airport Line proper starts at a junction just south of St Werburgh's Road stop, where the line leaves the former railway trackbed, and runs off to the south-west. It joins Mauldeth Road, running along the central reservation to Barlow Moor Road stop. It then runs on street along Hardy Lane for a short distance, before crossing onto a tram only viaduct crossing the River Mersey and the Mersey Valley flood plain.[2]

Tram running on tracks alongside Simonsway. Between Robinswood Road and Peel Hall.

The line then continues on a low embankment to Sale Water Park stop, serving the Sale Water Park; this stop is also near Junction 6 of the M60 motorway and has park and ride facilities. The line then runs parallel to the M60 for a short distance before turning south-west and crossing it on a tram only bridge.[2]

After crossing the motorway, the line serves Northern Moor stop. Between Northern Moor stop and Wythenshawe Park stop the line runs on a strip of land which was originally reserved for a road scheme. The line then crosses onto Moor Road, where it serves Moor Road stop, before crossing onto a reserved track section alongside the road. A tram bridge takes the tracks over the Mid-Cheshire railway line and into Baguley stop. The line then runs alongside the road for the next few miles, serving stops at Roundthorn and Martinscroft, before crossing the M56 motorway on a purpose built bridge.[2]

The line then runs along Hollyhedge Road with other traffic, before turning onto a segregated section of track alongside Brownley Road, serving stops at Benchill and Crossacres. The route crosses to another segregated alignment on the south side of Poundswick Lane, crossing the northern end of Rowlandsway before turning left into Wythenshawe Town Centre stop.[2]

Map of the Airport Line

The line then runs along segregated roadside track sections, for the next few miles, serving stops at Robinswood Road, Peel Hall and Shadowmoss, before passing under Ringway Road via an underpass, and into the terminus at Manchester Airport station: The two tram platforms at the Airport station were built alongside the mainline rail platforms allowing interchange between the trains and trams.[2]

The total distance, between St Werburgh's Road and Manchester Airport is 9 miles (14.5 km).[1]


The line was opened as part of the third phase of the system's development, which also included new lines to East Didsbury, Ashton-under-Lyne, and Rochdale.

Construction work for all Phase 3b lines began in March 2011.[3] On the Airport Line, a 580-tonne steel bridge was erected in Wythenshawe over the M56 motorway on 25 November 2012.[4] The Airport Line opened on 3 November 2014, more than one year early,[5] and at a cost of £368 million.[6]

Proposed future development[edit]

Wythenshawe Loop[edit]

The original plans for the line included a loop from Roundthorn tram stop to the existing line at Manchester Airport via the University Hospital of South Manchester (Wythenshawe Hospital) and Newall Green. The line would have had stops at Wythenshawe Hospital, Newall Green and Davenport Green.[7] Although axed in 2005 to control costs, the Wythenshawe Loop remains an aspiration of TfGM. The route could link with HS2 Manchester Interchange.[8]

TfGM have submitted a bid for funding to extend the Airport Line to Terminal 2.[9]


As of January 2018, trams operate Manchester Airport every 12 minutes, and terminate at Manchester Victoria in the City Zone.[10] At opening, Airport Line services had terminated at Cornbrook and later Deansgate-Castlefield due to lack of capacity through the city-centre, which was remedied by the opening of the second city crossing.[11] In March 2016, an early morning service was introduced between the airport and Firswood,[12] which was in February 2017 also extended to Deansgate-Castlefield.[11] TfGM have indicated that there could also be a 6-minute service at peak times after 2017.[13]


During the first full year of operation, 1.88 million journeys were made on the Airport Line.[14]

See also[edit]

  • Styal Line; heavy-rail line also serving Manchester Airport.


  1. ^ a b "Airport line". Metrolink. Archived from the original on 13 November 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Manchester, Chorlton, Wythenshawe & Airport". LRTA. Retrieved 28 January 2016.
  3. ^ "Manchester Metrolink starts Phase 3b". Railway Gazette International. London. 22 March 2011. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  4. ^ Britton, Paul (25 November 2012). "Giant construction project to position 580-tonne bridge over M56 completed eight hours early". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
  5. ^ "BBC News – Metrolink line to Manchester Airport opens a year early". BBC News.
  6. ^ Charlotte Cox (20 June 2014). "Video: Manchester airport Metrolink line to open this year – Manchester Evening News". men.
  7. ^ "Metrolink History 2". LRTA. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  8. ^ "BBC News – Wythenshawe 'western loop' Metrolink tram line to be proposed". BBC News.
  9. ^ "CAPITAL PROJECTS AND POLICY SUB-COMMITTEE – Metrolink Capital Update". TfGM. 9 February 2018. Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  10. ^ "Transport for Greater Manchester tram times". TfGM. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  11. ^ a b "Manchester Metrolink 'big bang' expansion complete as second city tram line opens". TfGM. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  12. ^ "Early morning Airport Metrolink service set to take off". TfGM. 3 March 2016.
  13. ^ "Metrolink 2017". TfGM. 15 January 2016. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
  14. ^ "Nearly two million travel on new Manchester Airport line". Rail magazine. Retrieved 22 November 2016.

External links[edit]

Route map:

KML is from Wikidata