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The transport infrastructure of Manchester is built up of numerous transport modes and forms an integral part of the structure Greater Manchestermarker and North West Englandmarker. Manchestermarker is served by an international airport, a motorway. a light-rail and rail network. Greater Manchester has a higher percentage of the motorway network than any other county. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, it has the most traffic lanes side by side (17), spread across several parallel carriageways - the M61 at Linnyshawmarker Moss, Greater Manchester, close to the M60marker interchange (the M60 is one of only two motorways in the UK designated as an 'Oribital Motorway, (the other being the M25marker around London). The area is served by a network of bus routes (laying claim to one of the first in the world) and a tram network (first modern UK light rail system) radiates from the city centre.

The Liverpool and Manchester Railway was the first passenger railway in the world. Greater Manchester still has an extensive citywide railway network , two mainline termini (Victoriamarker and Piccadillymarker) and four through mainline railway stations in the central area (Deansgatemarker, Salford Centralmarker, Salford Crescentmarker and Oxford Roadmarker). A network of canals also remains from the industrial revolution. It was the first city in the United Kingdommarker to re-introduce trams to the streets with the 1992 opening of Manchester Metrolink.


Manchester Airportmarker, formerly Manchester (Ringway) Airport, is the fourth busiest airport in the UK in terms of passengers per year (the busier airports are London's Heathrow, Gatwick and (from 2006) Stansted). It is served by a dedicated railway stationmarker. In 2008 the airport handled 21.06 million passengers and provided direct flights to over 200 destinations worldwide by over 90 airlines from three terminals. Long haul scheduled destinations served directly include New Yorkmarker ( JFKmarker and Newarkmarker), Chicagomarker, Bostonmarker, Philadelphiamarker, Atlantamarker, Orlandomarker, Torontomarker, Calgarymarker, Vancouvermarker, Port of Spainmarker, Antiguamarker, Barbadosmarker, St. Luciamarker and Cancúnmarker. Asian destinations include Damascusmarker, Dubaimarker, Abu Dhabimarker, Dohamarker, Jeddahmarker, Riyadhmarker, Karachimarker, Islamabadmarker, Lahoremarker and Singaporemarker. There are also firm plans for direct services to Beijing, Bangkokmarker and Hong Kongmarker. Many European and domestic destinations are served. Manchester to London is one of the highest density airline routes within the UK and is one of the busiest domestic sectors in Europe, but is now experiencing serious competition from the improved railway link.

The airport has been voted the best airport in the UK by Which? consumer magazine, Travel Weekly Globe, Business Magazines International for the second year running and in the Airport World’s Service Excellence Awards (European runner up, second only to Copenhagenmarker).


Greater Manchestermarker and Greater Londonmarker are the only two UK conurbations with a separately numbered orbital motorway (though it is possible to circumnavigate Birminghammarker via several differently numbered motorways). The Manchester ring road is called the M60marker. Unlike London's M25marker, the M60 actually runs within the Greater Manchester conurbation providing good inter-suburban links, rather than around the outside of the conurbation. The M60 has 27 junctions, numbered clockwise from Junction 1 at Stockportmarker in the south-east.

The M60marker between junction 16 (Pendleburymarker/Kearsleymarker) and junction 17 (Prestwichmarker/Whitefieldmarker) is the second busiest section of road in the UK, after the M25 at junctions 13 & 14 (Heathrowmarker). Research in 2008 suggested that Manchester is the fourth most congested city in Europe.

The city also has an inner ring road. Part of this is the A57/A57marker (known as Mancunian Way), which runs south of the city centre, linking the western M602 (which spurs from the M60) to the eastern M60 and M67.

The other main motorways serving Manchester are the M56 (to the airportmarker, Chestermarker and the M6 southbound to Birminghammarker), the M61 (to Boltonmarker, Prestonmarker and the M6 northbound to Lancastermarker), the M62 (west to Liverpoolmarker and east to Leedsmarker and Kingston upon Hullmarker), the M66 (to Burymarker) and the M67, which was originally planned as a route to Sheffieldmarker but never completed. All of these motorways connect with the M60.


Manchester holds a pivotal position in railway history as a birthplace of passenger rail travel on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, which opened in 1830. Railway links to London were established by 1842. In just 50 years the city centre was encircled by stations and termini, including Manchester London Road (now Manchester Piccadillymarker), Manchester Victoriamarker, Manchester Centralmarker, Manchester Mayfieldmarker and Manchester Exchangemarker. Cutbacks followed the Beeching Report in the 1960s, with Manchester Central, Manchester Mayfield and Manchester Exchange closing to passengers. All rail services were then concentrated on Manchester Victoria and Manchester Piccadilly.

Manchester Piccadilly was the busiest railway station in England outside London in terms of passengers in 2005-2006..

High speed trains to London are run from Manchester Piccadilly by Virgin Trains, journeys typically taking around 2 hr 15 min, with the quickest taking 2 hr 5 mins.

Manchester Victoria Station, the less busy of the two in Manchester city centre
There are several smaller stations around the city centremarker, including Oxford Roadmarker and Deansgatemarker (formerly Knott Mill), and Salford Centralmarker across the Irwell in the City of Salfordmarker.

There is no underground railway system similar to Glasgow's or London's although the city has had several failed attempts to create one, including the "Picc-Vic tunnel", a heavy rail tunnel to link the main stations. Excavation work under the Manchester Arndalemarker for this project began in the 1970s, but was soon abandoned due to costs and rumours of 'subterranean obstacles'. This may well have referred to the ' Guardian' underground nuclear bunker network, constructed as a means of protecting communications in the city in the event of an atom bomb being deployed and now used by BT. Other abandoned tunnels hidden for decades have recently been discovered including a 460-metre canal tunnel from the River Irwell to the canal system '[457709]' '[457710]'.

Piccadilly and Victoria are now linked by the city's Metrolink tram system.

The urban and suburban areas are covered by a sizeable network of railway lines, including to Ashton-under-Lynemarker, Boltonmarker, Stockportmarker and Wilmslowmarker. Full timetables are from National Rail Enquiries. The commuter rail network within Greater Manchester (which numbers 101 stations) is the most extensive outside Greater London and the South East .


Manchester has a tram system called Metrolink. Operated by Stagecoach, Metrolink links the city centre to Altrinchammarker, Ecclesmarker and Burymarker. It is a high-frequency service, with trams running every 6–12 minutes. It carries nearly 20 million passengers each year.

Trams first appeared on the streets of Manchester in 1877 and by 1901 were taken over and electrified by Manchester Corporation Tramways. The system grew to the third largest in the UK but was abandoned in 1949. Proposals for a light rail system in the city grew from a 1970s proposal by SELNEC to build three rapid transit lines. This idea was superseded by the Picc-Vic project but light-rail was resurrected again in the 1980s; it was these proposals which led the birth of the Metrolink, the first routes of which were opened in 1992.

Plans to extend Manchester Metrolink were reinstated after an election-time u-turn by the Labour Government which had rejected the plans months earlier, despite years of support. The Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive (GMPTE), responsible for public transport in the area, led the fight to ensure that the extensions be built, with significant support from local councils and communities and Manchester City Council. In July 2006 the government announced a major extension to the Metrolink system, which is intended to form the first phase of the so-called 'big bang' expansion. If the eventual desired system is completed, passenger numbers are predicted to more than double to an estimated 50 million per year.

A widely held view of many in Manchester of one of the major failings of the Metrolink is that it has never been extended to reach the Trafford Centremarker (approx. 5 miles away in Trafford Park). The line to Eccles is judged by many to be a failure as it takes longer than the bus journey following a similar route, and achieves this without the Metrolink's advantage of using a dedicated route.

Since the initial euphoria at the huge success, from the public, local and national government, and environmental groups, Metrolink has become something of a victim of its own popularity. Many routes are extremely busy, especially at peak times, and prices have risen at far above the rate of inflation.


Greater Manchester and other surrounding areas have an extensive bus network managed by GMPTE.. Including a night bus service which is one of the most extensive outside London

Buses are operated by companies including First Manchester, Stagecoach Manchester (incorporating the lower-cost Magic Bus), Arriva North West, Finglands, Bluebird and JPT. Until 22 December 2006, when their services were suspended by the North-west Traffic Commissioner, UK North (also trading as GM Buses) also operated buses in Manchester. The major routes, with high passenger volumes, include Oxford Road/Wilmslow Roadmarker, one of the busiest bus routes in Europe, bringing large numbers of students and commuters from Fallowfieldmarker, Withingtonmarker and Didsburymarker to the university buildings in the city centre, and office buildings, including the BBC. Other routes that are not as commercially attractive, with smaller passenger volumes, are less well provided for, and the cost of a single journey can be similar to that of a Week Pass for the "South Manchester" journey.

First Manchester operates free Metroshuttle services that link important points such as Manchester Victoriamarker, Piccadillymarker and Oxford Roadmarker stations with Chinatown, Deansgate, Salford Centralmarker, and Albert Square. These services are very successful and therefore often busy. There are three routes, numbered 1, 2 and 3, coloured orange, green and purple respectively. They run every 5-10 minutes and complement the Metrolink and National Rail services.

Those arriving at Manchester Piccadilly Bus Stationmarker and needing to take a train from Manchester Piccadillymarker, less than half a mile (500 meters) away, can choose either Metrolink or the free Metroshuttle, or walk.

High frequency bendy bus routes include the Burymarker-Manchester 135 service and the Boltonmarker-Leigh 582 service, which operate every six to ten minutes.

Manchester's principal bus station used mainly for services on the south side of the city is at Piccadilly Gardensmarker, which is also served by Metrolink. Shudehill Bus/Metrolink Interchange caters for routes mainly on the north side of the city and is within walking distance of Victoria stationmarker. Long-distance coaches, operated mainly by National Express, serve the Manchester Central Coach Station at Chorlton Street, opened in March 2002 replacing the old one on the same site.

Greater Manchester bus stops are being replaced over a five year period. The older bus stop flags were based on a nationally adopted design featuring a single decker bus and were used over the entire country with the exception of London. Following bus deregulation there was no compulsion to use the national symbol and several PTEs like West Yorkshires Metro and Merseyside adopted a new bus stop flag design featuring their capital M logo. GMPTE inherited their own M shaped logo and also began to use it on the glass back of bus shelters from the late 1990s. They have subsequently introduced this to a new design for bus stop flags - firstly used in 2002 on high priority routes - and now being erected across the entire GMPTE area.


One legacy of the industrial revolution is an extensive network of canals: the Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal, Rochdale Canalmarker, Manchester Ship Canal, which provides access to the sea, Bridgewater Canal, Ashton Canalmarker, and the Leigh Branch of the Leeds & Liverpool Canalmarker. Most of these canals are used for recreation, although freight is once again being carried on the Ship Canal.


  1. The Metropolitan County of Greater Manchester has the most extensive motorway network in the United Kingdom. Oldham College -About Manchester URL accessed 28 June 2007
  2. British Roads Database URL accessed June 28, 2007
  3. ,
  5. " Get our Metrolink back on track", Manchester City Council, 25 November 2005; Retrieved 14 May 2006.
  6. Maps of bus routes and a public transport journey planner for the Greater Manchester are on the GMPTE website.
  8. BBC NEWS | England | Manchester | Bus companies banned from roads

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