The new Metrolink line to Droylsden in Tameside will open to passengers on 11 February – and residents will get the chance to try it out for free before then as thanks for their patience.
The new 3.9-mile (6.3km) section to Droylsden will have eight new stops: New Islington, Holt Town, Etihad Campus, Velopark, Clayton Hall, Edge Lane, Cemetery Road and Droylsden.
Journeys from Droylsden to Manchester Piccadilly will run every 12 minutes initially and will take around 20 minutes.
To thank the community for its patience during the construction of the street-running sections of the new line, residents from Clayton to Droylsden will be able to use the new line for free over the three days leading up to the launch.
Households in the catchment area will be sent more details closer to the time. TfGM will also contact local schools to arrange for classes to travel at specific times on the tram for supervised trips before the line opens to the public.
Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of the TfGM Committee, said: “We’re now entering the final stages of the programme for the new line to Droylsden, which means we’re getting ever closer to that landmark moment when we open the doors to passengers for the first time.
“The progress we’ve made so far on testing and commissioning has been encouraging, but it’s now clear that we’ll not be able to open for service before the year is out as the tram management system being delivered by Thales has not been available within the prescribed timeframe.
“While it’s disappointing to be seven weeks beyond the revised target, we’re confident we’ll be opening the line in February thanks to the interim solution put in place by TfGM. This arrangement is similar to those developed by TfGM which enabled the opening of the South Manchester and Oldham lines.”
The new line runs from the existing Metrolink stop at Manchester Piccadilly through the key regeneration areas of Ancoats, New Islington and Beswick and the heart of East Manchester.
It runs under Great Ancoats Street, through Holt Town towards Etihad Campus (Manchester City football stadium) and the Velodrome.
From here, between Clayton and Droylsden, it runs on-street along Ashton New Road and Manchester Road.
Services starting at Droylsden will run on through Manchester city centre – calling at the Piccadilly Gardens, Market Street, Shudehill and Manchester Victoria stops – before serving all stops on the Bury line.
Passengers will be able to connect with Altrincham and Eccles line services at Manchester Piccadilly, and with Chorlton and Oldham line services at Market Street.
The line to Droylsden is already being extended by a further 3.8km to Ashton-under-Lyne town centre, providing additional stops at Audenshaw, Ashton Moss, Ashton West and Ashton-Under-Lyne. This section is due to open in winter 2013/14.