Our tram route is the Eccles Line which was phase two of the Metrolink development in Greater Manchester. Phase one was the Altrincham to Bury line which opened in 1992 and it wasn’t until 2000 that the line reached Eccles at a cost of £160 million. Phase one had constructed tram routes on the under-utilised suburban rail network and the plans had been to continue with this process; however, as Salford Quays developed, transforming the old docks with housing, retail, offices and leisure, it was clear the area needed improved public transport and in 1995 the four mile route around Salford Quays to Eccles was agreed and work began in 1997.
When completed, the blue and grey trams initially struggled to compete with the bus route from Eccles. The direct bus from Eccles, the number 33, ran every ten minutes could beat the tram which takes a meandering way around the quays to reach the city centre. The new branding and pale yellow and grey trams were introduced in 2008 and for those on or near the Quays, the new yellow trams have become a clean and efficient way to travel and the trams are now often full. The tram is cheaper than the bus and much more scenic and it is always my public transport of choice.
We chose our home in Salford as much because of the easy access to the tram stop as anything else. Using the Metrolink network we can now travel around Greater Manchester easily, making the most of day and weekend tickets as the network has expanded. We like the real time information about when to expect the next tram [on the rare occasion that we have a ten minute wait for the next tram we can always walk to the next stop] and we like the Get Me There app that makes buying tickets easy.
Whenever I travel on the tram in to Manchester I will always look to see what is happening on Ontario Basin where the water sport centre is, there are often people messing about in boats here but I might have my head in a book and miss this attraction. Whatever is distracting me, my personal rule is to always take the time to look at the view as the tram crosses The Manchester Ship Canal between Exchange Quay and Pomona station [this is a station of many jokes as it is rare for anyone to get on or off at Pomona and if they do the passengers will joke that they must be lost]. As the tram crosses the bridge you have a fantastic view along the canal in to Manchester, in a morning the sun will be rising behind the city, there might be swans on the water and nothing is ever so important that you cannot take a minute to enjoy it. Pomona island, straggling Salford, Trafford and Manchester, is then laid out before you, still a wildlife haven in the city although its days are numbered as development has now started at the Cornbrook end. Work has now started on the new Trafford Centre line. This will join the network at Pomona and I am sure in a few years this station will be as busy as any other and those days of stopping at the ‘ghost’ station will just be a memory.