Greater Manchester is preparing for one of the biggest weekends of the year as a host of major sporting and social events take place across the region.
Across the city, The Muslim Lifestyle Expo is taking place at Event City, whilst three Disney on Ice shows will also be performed at the Manchester Arena.
Elsewhere, Bee in the City is celebrating its farewell weekend at the National Cycling Centre and Women's rugby Super League Grand Final takes place at the Etihad Campus – meaning roads and motorways surrounding both venues are expected to be busy throughout Saturday.
Alongside the events taking place, industrial action is set to affect Northern Rail Services causing significant disruption to rail services on Saturday – while the half marathon itself means a number of roads will be closed in the area.
As a result of this Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) is strongly advising all road and public transport users to plan ahead and allow more time for traveling on Saturday or Sunday.
Due to this unique set of circumstances – and taking into account the ongoing improvement works on Regent Road, Mancunian Way and Chester Road roundabout – Metrolink will be offering free travel across the network to all Super League Grand Final ticket holders.
Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, said: "I'm really excited by the events taking place across the region over the weekend and its great news that we can take a positive step with Metrolink and give rugby fans a real choice in how they get to the match.
"Greater Manchester is world renowned for its sports and cultural events and they are the lifeblood of the city – and it’s critical we all do what we can to ensure people can access them as easily as possible and enjoy them to the full.”
A limited Northern Rail train service will be in operation from 7am to 7pm only on Saturday and those trains that do run will be extremely busy.
No trains will run from the city centre to Wigan and only a very limited number of services will operate to Warrington after the final whistle at Old Trafford. It is therefore not recommended that match goers use rail service to get to and from the event.
The size and locations of the events on Saturday mean that there’ll be a number of changes to public transport, including bus diversions and local road closures, however additional Metrolink services will run throughout the weekend.
For Old Trafford customers are advised to use Old Trafford, Trafford Bar and Exchange Quay stops, which are all a ten minute walk from the ground.
Additionally all of Greater Manchester’s park and ride facilities will be open and offer thousands of free car parking spaces. Trams operate from every stop and offer connections to the game every 12 minutes or better.
The M602 is expected to be extremely busy and motorists are encouraged to stay on the M60 and use this to access the city centre and the various park and ride sites. If driving to the game is your only option then it is recommended that Junctions 7 and 9 are used for routes into Old Trafford.
TfGM have also secured free bus travel for match ticket holders from the A580 Park and Ride site on the East Lancs Road all day on Saturday. Regular buses will operate to and from the city centre where onward Metrolink connections to the game are available. Additional services will also operate from 2pm and back to the Park & Ride site post-match. Services will be operated by First Manchester.
The A580 Park and Ride facility has 250 spaces and is expected to be busy. TfGM are recommending car sharing as a good option for those attending the game and planning on using any of the regions park and ride sites.
TfGM's Customer Director, Stephen Rhodes, said: "Saturday in particular represents a unique challenge for the transport network.
"As such we will be using every available tool we have – including monitoring the road network with our 24 hour control centre – to ensure our customers are kept up-to-date on the latest travel advice.
"Our advice to customers is to plan ahead, allow extra time for your journey if you're driving and consider alternative transport options – or walking or cycling of you live close to any of the events taking place.”
For information on public transport across Greater Manchester visit www.tfgm.com, call 0161 244 1000 (7am-8pm, Monday to Friday, and 8am-8pm at weekends and bank holidays) or follow @OfficialTfGM on Twitter.