Metrolink services to Droylsden launched today – after residents took advantage of a free travel invitation.
The new 3.9-mile (6.3km) section to Droylsden serves eight new stops – New Islington, Holt Town, Etihad Campus, Velopark, Clayton Hall, Edge Lane, Cemetery Road and Droylsden – and journeys from Manchester Piccadilly to Droylsden run every 12 minutes, taking around 20 minutes to complete.
As previously announced, residents living next to the route from Manchester to Droylsden were able to use the new line for free over the three days leading up to the launch – Friday 8 February to Sunday 10 February – on production of a special invitation.
Households in the catchment areas agreed with Manchester City Council and Tameside Council were sent their invitations through the post.
The offer was a gesture of thanks to the community for its patience during the construction of the street-running sections of the new line.
Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, which oversees the Metrolink network, said: "Today was a very special moment – an historic moment for Metrolink, Manchester and Tameside.
"I have been eagerly awaiting the launch of services to Droylsden since funding was confirmed in 2008. A great deal of hard work has gone into this new line, a great deal of challenges overcome, and we are now realising the benefits of all that effort.
"I want to thank the people of Manchester and Tameside for their patience, and trust that it will be rewarded many times over. I am in no doubt that Metrolink will be of huge benefit to residents and businesses in both areas – just as it has been everywhere else it serves."
Tameside Council Executive Leader Councillor Kieran Quinn said: "There is no doubt that the arrival of Metrolink to Droylsden will be a massive boost for the people and businesses in the area.
"Today is the day I and many others have been looking forward to for four years because we can finally put all the disruption and turmoil behind us once and for all.
"Of course the good news doesn’t end there because the line to Ashton is continuing at a pace and is set for completion this year, which will offer a further boost to the town’s economy.
"With a tram running every 12 minutes and taking around 20 minutes to get to Droylsden from Piccadilly, how can it not be of benefit to the town?
"In recognition of the disruption caused to everyone, TfGM handed out free three-day passes to some households in the Droylsden area for use on the East Manchester line in the days leading up to the official launch.
"I am particularly proud of this unique offer because it was in recognition of all the hard negotiations the six Droylsden councillors carried out with Metrolink on our ward residents’ behalf.
"I know it’s been a long time coming but I feel sure that once it is established everyone will get on board and give it the support it deserves."
Councillor Nigel Murphy, Manchester City Council’s executive member for the environment, said: "The new Droylsden line makes it easier for people to access jobs and other opportunities in Manchester city centre, as well as all the exciting sports and community facilities which will open soon near the Etihad stadium."
The new services run 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.
The line runs under Great Ancoats Street, through Holt Town towards Etihad Campus (Manchester City football stadium) and the Velodrome.
From here, between Clayton and Droylsden the line runs on-street along Ashton New Road and Manchester Road.
Tickets to any of the stops in Manchester city centre, up to and including Manchester Victoria or Deansgate-Castlefield, start at £3.40 for a peak ‘anytime’ single from the Droylsden and Cemetery Road stops and £2.40 from the Edge Lane – New Islington stops.
An 'anytime' peak return ticket cost £5.40 from the Droylsden and Cemetery Road stops and £3.70 from the Edge Lane – New Islington stops. Off-peak (9.30am onwards) equivalents are £3.80 and £2.90 respectively.
A range of weekly, four-weekly, quarterly and annual season tickets offer even greater value.
Services starting at Droylsden run on through Manchester city centre – calling at the Manchester Piccadilly, Piccadilly Gardens, Market Street, Shudehill and Manchester Victoria stops – before serving all stops on the Bury line.
Passengers can connect with services to Altrincham and Eccles at Manchester Piccadilly or Piccadilly Gardens, and services to Chorlton and Shaw via Oldham at Market Street.
The line to Droylsden is already being extended by a further 2.3 miles (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.