Metrolink: Report highlights ‘impressive’ increase in passenger journeys as hopes for Bolton connection rise

Manchester’s Metrolink network covers large parts of the region - and could get bigger very soon.
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The Greater Manchester Metrolink system is currently the biggest light rail network in the UK. With 99 stops, it crosses and connects boroughs, towns and cities. 

A report from the Department for Transport has highlighted that the use of the Metrolink continues to rise. New statistics show that the number of passenger journeys on the network are closing in on pre-pandemic levels. 

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According to UKTram, the Trade Body for all British Isle Light Rail networks, the Metrolink had a 38.5% increase in journeys to the year ending March 2023. This equates to a total of 36 million journeys up to this point.

Not only is this a rise of around 10 million on the year ending March 2022, it is a number second only to the Dockland Light Railway in London. 

The Metrolink has continued to grow over the years since its launch back in 1992. The network now covers over 60 miles of Greater Manchester, with calls for it to be extended further getting louder. 

A main talking point since the axing of HS2 to Manchester has been what the money saved from the project would be spent on. The UK Government has outlined ‘Network North’ as the answer, an answer which would include further investment in the Metrolink. 

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Bolton is one Greater Manchester town which could have its own Metrolink connection. Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham rebuked claims that Bolton doesn't need a Metrolink because it has a main train line to Manchester. 

A Manchester Metrolink TramA Manchester Metrolink Tram
A Manchester Metrolink Tram

Speaking just before he was re-elected two years ago, Mr Burnham said: “Passenger numbers have risen by more than 60 per cent wherever there has been a Metrolink.”

The Metrolink’s 99 stops could be added to soon, and with the number of journeys experiencing a steady rise, the reasons to do so are clear. The stats published by the Department for Transport are a main reason why continuing to expand on the UK’s biggest light railway should only benefit the region.