Work to complete the new fourth platform at Manchester Airport station will resume this weekend as Network Rail begins to install the new track and signalling.
The essential upgrade - which will allow extra services to call at the airport and provide passengers with better access from across the north of England - is part of a £1bn+ investment in the railway.
The majority of the work to build the fourth platform was carried out last year during construction of the Metrolink platform ensuring that disruption caused by the expansion was kept to a minimum.
To complete the work – which also includes finishing platform improvements with new CCTV and information screens – only two platforms will be in use between Sunday 11 January and Saturday 17 January and the station will then be closed to all trains until Monday 9 February.
Network Rail has worked with Manchester Airport and train operators to plan the closure to cause the least amount of disruption as possible to minimise the impact it has on train, Metrolink and plane passengers. Rail passengers are advised to check with National Rail Enquiries or their train operator for information.
Ian Joslin, area director for Network Rail, said: “Much of the work to upgrade Manchester Airport station has been completed while trains continue to run but there is no other alternative but to close the station while we install the new track and complete the new fourth platform.
“While there is never a good time to close the railway we have worked closely with the airport, Metrolink and train operators to complete this work at a time which will impact the fewest numbers of passengers and I apologise for any short-term inconvenience while we deliver these long-term benefits.”
Wayne Poole, director of passenger services for Manchester Airport, said: “We’ll be working with the variety of partners that are involved in the fourth platform works to minimise disruption during the station closures. The station is a vital entry point for passengers and staff who are looking to access Manchester Airport but the addition of the fourth platform is significant and will provide one of the best connected rail stations in the north of England. We continue to work with transport providers to look at ways to further enhance access to the airport.”
Speaking on behalf or First Trans-Pennine Express, Northern Rail and Arriva Trains Wales, a spokesman said: “The investment in and development of Manchester Airport rail station presents a real opportunity for the future of rail in the north.
“The upcoming improvement works are an essential element of the £1bn investment that is taking place throughout the north of England and as operators we welcome the development.
“The additional platform at the airport and the introduction of Metrolink services will provide for greater capacity and improved reliability for customers.
“Of course this work requires a temporary closure of rail services in and out of the airport but we will be providing customers with detailed information about why this is happening and how they might complete their journeys. A comprehensive and appropriate coach replacement service is being delivered by train operators which should minimise any potential disruption to customers’ travel plans.”
Transport for Greater Manchester’s Metrolink director, Peter Cushing, said: “With the opening of the new airport line in November, the new heavy rail fourth platform will represent an excellent example of heavy and light rail integration at one of the best road and rail connected airports in the country.
“We are grateful to both Metrolink and rail passengers for their patience while this, ultimately, beneficial work is carried out.”
The work involved will result in some changes to Metrolink services between Manchester Airport and Wythenshawe town centre from Saturday 17 January to midday on Sunday 18 January. Between those times, trams will run between Cornbrook and Wythenshawe town centre, and like-for-like replacement bus services will run between the town centre and the airport. Metrolink services are unaffected at all other times.
Over the next five years Network Rail is delivering over £1bn of investment which will enable faster, more frequent train services to run across the north of England.