Peter Cushing has overseen the Metrolink as it became the UK's largest light rail network

METROLINK boss Peter Cushing has stepped down, just one week after the launch of the network's new Second City Crossing (2CC) line.

Cushing, who took on the role in January 2013, has overseen the Metrolink as it became the UK's largest light rail network, covering more than 60 miles with 93 stops across seven lines and hosting 37 million passenger journeys every year.

The £185m 2CC project formed the final piece in Metrolink's £1.5bn ‘big-bang expansion jigsaw', which began in December 2009 when work commenced on a new tram line to East Didsbury. New lines to MediaCityUK, Rochdale via Oldham, Ashton and Manchester Airport followed.

Though the project was brought to an unexpected standstill in 2014, when engineers discovered the remains of 280 bodies in an eighteenth century graveyard beneath Cross Street.

In January works began to extend the network to the Trafford Centre with a new £350m 5.5km line.

The past four years has not been without its challenges

Cushing has formally handed over the leadership and day-to-day management of the network to Danny Vaughan, who has been Peter’s deputy since joining Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) from Luas, Dublin’s light rail network, in 2013.

Cushing will continue in a part-time capacity to oversee the change in operator from RATP Dev UK Ltd to KeolisAmey.

Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of the TfGM Committee, said: “Peter has been outstanding. He has played a vital role in successfully delivering one of the country’s largest transport projects in the Metrolink expansion.

“During his tenure – which, with the short-term impacts of the expansion felt most keenly, has been one of the most challenging periods in the network’s history – we have seen record-breaking patronage and year-on-year increases in passenger satisfaction.

“That is, quite simply, remarkable and the greatest tribute to his first-class stewardship.

Metrolink Media City Tram

Cushing said: “The past four years has not been without its challenges, but they have only served to make the many successes we’ve shared all the more rewarding.

'“This year is going to be a fantastic period for the network, with completion of the Second City Crossing, silver jubilee celebrations, and a new operating contract in place.

'“Collectively, it feels like a fitting point in time to end my tenure and I can think of no better person to pass the mantle to than Danny, given his vast experience in the light rail industry and his fantastic approach to working with all the partners involved.”