Plans to improve Manchester's existing tram network were agreed by transport minister Tom Harris today.
Harris confirmed that a further £25.7m will be invested in the project, in addition to an earlier £32.3m central Government contribution. The money will pay for renovation works along the existing Metrolink system, including the upgrading of bridges, cabling and overhead lines as well as junction improvements on the Eccles line.
However, proposals for new lines to other Greater Manchester towns and interchanges remains unchanged. In June 2000, the DfT gave full approval for extensions at £282m consisting of some refurbishment of the existing system and three new lines:
- North to Oldham and Rochdale
- South to Manchester Airport
- East to Ashton-under-Lyne
Due to significant cost increases, the department withdrew funding in July 2004. In December 2004, the DfT confirmed the £520m budget was still available subject to Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive developing a satisfactory plan for the areas included in the original scheme.
In July 2006 the department granted conditional approval for the scheme to extend the Metrolink system to Oldham, Rochdale and Chorlton with a central Government contribution of £244m. GMPTE is expected to approach the department for full approval for the project by May this year. Approval will be granted provided that the costs and risks remain as approved in 2006.
GMPTE is also funding a separate extension to Droylsden in the east of the city.