TRANSPORT FOR Greater Manchester has awarded the new Metrolink operating concession to a KeolisAmey joint venture.

The contract will start in July 2017 and will run for up to 10 years. The venture will take over from operator RATP Dev and infrastructure consortium M-Pact Thales, comprising VolkerRail, Laing O’Rourke and Thales. The incumbent operator was also shortlisted to bid alongside National Express and Transdev.

Public transport operator Keolis and infrastructure asset management specialist Amey also operate London’s Docklands Light Railway in a joint venture, while Keolis is part of the consortium which operates the Nottingham Express Transit light rail network.

TfGM says the new concession will include the creation of more than 300 jobs and a commitment to upskill and enhance training and qualifications for staff, along with a major focus on improving operational reliability and customer service and security, with an increased staff presence on the network, particularly in the evening and at weekends. It will also feature a commitment to source a minimum of 40% of supplier contracts with 25 miles of Greater Manchester, and to better customer and community engagement through ‘Meet the Manager’ and ‘Tweet the Manager’ sessions.

Meanwhile, testing has begun on the new Second City Crossing route, which is due to open in the early part of the year, and will prompt a reconfiguration of services to offer enhanced frequencies. Construction recently began on a further extension of the network to Trafford Park, which is due to open in 2020/21.

Ready for extension: the new Trafford Park Metrolink line will run straight on from the southern end of Pomona station, towards the trees in the middle distance. The Eccles line branches off to the right hand side (the tram in shot is running from Eccles towards Manchester). The base for the junction was created when the Eccles line was built. Tony Miles