Metrolink is a light rail system in Greater Manchester, England. The network consists of six lines which radiate from Manchester city centre and terminate at Altrincham, Ashton-under-Lyne, Bury, Didsbury, Eccles, and Rochdale. The system is owned by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and operated and maintained under contract by RATP In 2013/14, 29.2 million passenger journeys were made on the system, also known as Manchester Metrolink.
A light rail system for Greater Manchester was borne of Greater Manchester County Council's obligations to provide "an integrated and efficient system of public transport" under its structure plan and the Transport Act 1968. Greater Manchester's public transport network suffered from poor north–south connections, exacerbated by the location of Manchester's main railway stations, Piccadilly and Victoria, which were unconnected and lay at opposite edges of central Manchester. Abandoning the monorail and underground options conceived in the 1960s and 1970s, light rail was proposed in 1982 as the best and most economical public transport solution for Manchester city centre and the surrounding Greater Manchester metropolitan area, and gathered support throughout the 1980s as an appropriate integrated commuter service.
Government approval was granted in 1988 and the network began operating services between Bury Interchange and Victoria on 6 April 1992. This founded the United Kingdom's first modern street-running rail system and its second operational public tram system, the 1885-built Blackpool tramway being the only heritage tram system in the UK that had endured up to Metrolink's creation.
Metrolink has 77 stops along 48.5 miles (78.1 km) of standard-gauge track routed through seven of the ten boroughs of Greater Manchester. The system has a mix of designated light railway (segregated from other traffic) and on-street tramway.