M.A.S.S. Barrier and Manchester Metrolink

1 April 2013 

Laing O’Rourke is part of the MPT design & build consortium delivering the current £900M Phase 3 extensions to Manchester Metrolink. Once completed, it will become the largest light rail scheme in the UK.

The first phase of the current extensions to Metrolink started in 2008.  The construction of a complete new twin track line, linking Central Manchester to its International Airport gained approval and funding to proceed in 2010.  When complete the £105 billion total investment programme will triple the size of the Metrolink network reducing expected road congestion by five million fewer car journeys every year.  Carrying around 22 million passengers a year, Greater Manchester’s Metrolink network is already one of the most successful light rail systems in the UK.

Part of the Phase 3 contract included the provision of 15km of new tramway through southern Manchester to extend the Metrolink to Manchester Airport. This project includes 5km of street-running tramway, and interfaces with over 28 major highway junctions and two motorways.

As part of the temporary traffic management Laing O’Rourke are using MASS barrier to delineate the works, and to segregate and protect both road users and the workforce. Although the urban traffic management schemes are in low speed environments, the construction durations and nature and extent of the works dictate that a robust barrier system is needed. MASS barrier offers a flexible balance between conventional cones / unrestrained barrier systems and superior high containment alternatives.

Richard Gamble, Project Engineer for Laing O’Rourke adds that by choosing MASS, Multi Application steel Safety System, the site security was noticeably improved – the interlinked 48kg steel bases being able to withstand sustained vandalism. Vehicle roll on – roll off stability of MASS when used in narrower road width situations ensures that should an errant vehicle drive onto the base unit, the vehicles weight helps to stabilise the barrier during impact.

Laing O’Rourke elected to use MASS barrier based on previous experience with the product at Dublin Airport Terminal 2. Initial quantities on site at commencement were 3500m, however this has been increased by an additional 1200m as demand for the system on site has increased.

The relative light weight and shape of MASS makes storing, transporting and installation an easy operation.

Two road traffic incidents have occurred to date where errant vehicles have collided with the traffic management. In both cases, MASS barrier contained the vehicle and ensured that the construction site remained protected. 

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