Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly today visited Manchester to confirm the extension to the Metrolink tram with Government funding of £244m towards the £382m cost of the scheme.
By 2012, residents and commuters will be able to use the Metrolink to travel to Oldham, Rochdale and Chorlton, as well as benefiting from faster and more frequent services on existing routes.
Kelly said: "Metrolink has been at the heart of Greater Manchester's transport system for more than a decade. Carrying 20 million passengers a year, it has been providing an excellent service to local residents and commuters.
"These much-anticipated improvements will make a huge difference to local public transport, and are expected to carry an extra 10 million passengers a year.
"Giving final approval to these plans reflects the Government's commitment to providing convenient, reliable and comfortable public transport. This ensures people have a real alternative to using their cars, and supports my aim to tackle congestion and reduce harmful pollution."
This £244m investment represents the final allocation of the £520m dedicated by the Government to Greater Manchester transport improvements in 2004.
Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive (GMPTE) is also constructing a further extension to the Metrolink network, separately funded, to Droylsden in the east of the city.
Further extensions to Metrolink are included within Greater Manchester's Transport Innovation Fund bid, which is currently being considered by the department for transport.
Click here to view a map of the extensions, as well as other routes GMPTE wish to progress.