The Government has granted final funding approval of £120.9m to extend Manchester's Metrolink tram system.
It means the Manchester Metrolink system is set to double in capacity once extensions to Ashton and East Didsbury, as well as the ones to Oldham, Rochdale, and Chorlton, have all been completed.
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 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 and will include five new tram stops, connecting Chorlton with Withington, West Didsbury, Burton Road Didsbury Village and East Didsbury.
The Ashton extension will see 3.9km 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 over 600 cars.
Phil Woolas, regional minister for the North West, added: "This is fantastic news for the Manchester City Region and its people. Not only will it provide a more reliable, efficient and greener travelling experience for passengers from Ashton and Didsbury into the city centre, but the investment of over £120m from Government, in addition to the funding for extensions to Oldham, Rochdale and Chorlton already announced, reaffirms our commitment to a public transport system that will rival any in Europe."
The projects announced today are in addition to the extensions to Oldham, Rochdale, and Chorlton to which the Government agreed to contribute £244m of funding in May 2008 and which are now under construction. This investment supports the vision for Greater Manchester to develop as a European regional centre and will also improve the city region's economic competitiveness and growth.
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 the winter of 2013/2014.
Transport Minister Khan also announced that the Government would provide extra funding to allow rail carriages formerly in use on the Oldham Loop line to be used to lengthen busy peak time services. In total, 15 services a day will be lengthened from July 2010, providing capacity for an extra 959 passengers each morning during peak times, with a similar increase in the evening. Some trains will have twice has much capacity as before.