Transport bosses have said there is ‘no more room’ on the Metrolink network to put more trams on for football matches.
At the start of this year, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) created a new service to help football fans at the Etihad Stadium and music fans at Co-op Live get to and from the city centre. They did so by taking trams, which usually run from Altrincham to Piccadilly, and rerouting them to continue on to the Etihad stop at some times.
The new dotted purple line on the map will run after 8pm from Monday to Friday, after 6:30pm on Saturdays, and all day on Sundays. It comes into effect once MediaCityUK-Etihad trams stop.
However, the organisation has ruled out the possibility of extending the Altrincham-Etihad services into the hours before Manchester City kick-offs when asked by the Local Democracy Reporting Service. That’s because doing so would "push additional services through pinch-points on the network that have no more room", a spokesperson said.
“Although football match-goers are important to us, there are up to 60,000 non-match-goers on the network on a typical Saturday that have journey requirements,” a statement from the organisation said. “We have to cater for everyone, and to change service patterns during the day would bring confusion for passengers.
“To make this change would need a completely bespoke service pattern for Manchester City matchdays – and require pushing additional services through pinch-points on the network that have no more room. There would be further issues regarding the power and resilience of the network to make this change.
“The service that runs between MediaCity and the Etihad finishes at 7pm and once that service ends, we recognise we needed to keep a six-minute frequency to help with people leaving the football match and Co-op Live events.”
The new service came into effect on January 2, 2024, and included an ‘uplift’ in the number of trams operating on the Altrincham and Bury lines as they "have seen encouraging signs of passenger growth", TfGM added, with passenger numbers across the network back at pre-pandemic levels in the run-up to Christmas.