£120m of taxpayers' money to fund new tram services

Tram services are to be extended across Greater Manchester with £120 million of taxpayers' cash funding two new extensions to the Metrolink system, it was announced today.

The cash, £120.9 million in total, will be spent on extending the tram route to Ashton-under-Lyne in Tameside and East Didsbury in south Manchester.

The Metrolink will double in capacity once the two new lines are open along with the ones to Oldham, Rochdale and Chorlton, announced in 2008.

Transport Minister Sadiq Khan said: "Metrolink is at the heart of Manchester's transport system and has been providing a great service to the travelling public for more than a decade.

"People travelling to and from Didsbury and Ashton will now reap the benefits of a having a direct link to the city centre - improving job opportunities and giving a boost to local businesses.

"As well as helping to regenerate some of the most deprived areas along both these corridors, more passengers on the tram will reduce traffic congestion in the area and provide better local air quality."

The proposed 4.5km Chorlton to East Didsbury extension will run on the route of a former railway line.

The Ashton extension will see 3.9 km of new track laid and four new stops, connecting the town centres of Droylsden and Ashton. The funding will also pay for six trams to the Metrolink fleet and two new park and ride sites at Ashton Moss and Ashton West for more than 600 cars.

Phil Woolas, Regional Minister for the North West, added: "This is fantastic news for the Manchester City Region and its people."

The projects announced today are in addition to the extensions to Oldham, Rochdale, and Chorlton to which the Government agreed to contribute £244 million of funding in May 2008 and which are now under construction.

Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive plans to commence main construction works early next year, with the East Didsbury line anticipated to be ready for service in summer 2013 and the Ashton line ready for service in winter 2013/14.