Manchester tram extensions approved

Greater Manchester's leaders have approved three extensions to the city region's tram system, enabling work to move ahead on new Metrolink lines to Oldham and Rochdale town centres and to Manchester Airport via Wythenshawe.

Following confirmation of funding by the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA), the local Passenger Transport Executive (GMPTE) has appointed M-Pact Thales (MPT) to design, construct and maintain the three lines.

Bombardier and its consortium partner Vossloh Kiepe will supply 14 Flexity Swift vehicles for the new lines in addition to the 48 new trams already ordered for the expanding Metrolink network.

Construction work for the £275m extensions has already begun, with MPT carrying out all the design, construction and maintenance work for the new lines. Laing O’Rourke and VolkerRail, jointly M-Pact, will deliver all the civil and rail infrastructure requirements and Thales UK will provide all the electrical systems engineering works, including power and overhead line equipment, and the tram operating system under a standalone contract.

It is expected that trams will be running to Oldham and Rochdale town centres during spring 2014 and to Manchester Airport during mid 2016.

David Leather, chief executive of GMPTE, said: "Following the approval of funding support from AGMA and GMITA, we have concluded negotiations for the delivery of the long awaited expansion of the Metrolink network.

"Contracts have now been signed for new lines to Manchester Airport and the town centres of Oldham and Rochdale, adding to the construction that is already underway from Manchester through Droylsden to Ashton, from Manchester through Chorlton to East Didsbury and the conversion of the former heavy rail line to Rochdale via Oldham.

"This milestone in Metrolink history will see the system almost treble compared to today's network. "With the support of our delivery partner, Parsons Brinckerhoff, and the experience of MPT we are confident of successful delivery of the new lines."

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