The first Metrolink passenger services to Ashton-under-Lyne are now up and running.
The first tram set off at 5.59am this morning, several months ahead of schedule.
The launch to Ashton adds four new stops to the East Manchester line: Audenshaw, Ashton Moss, Ashton West and Ashton-under-Lyne.
Park and ride facilities at Ashton Moss (200 spaces) and Ashton West (194 spaces, shared with users of the Ashton Moss Leisure Park) will also open and will be free to use for Metrolink passengers.
Tram journeys from Ashton to Piccadilly take a little over 30 minutes.
Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of the TfGM Committee, said: “The early arrival of trams to Ashton is fantastic news and a real boon for Tameside.
“I am particularly pleased that the last government committed funding for this project before the last general election. This ensured that the contract was signed before the spending axe fell.
“This is the second time this year we have delivered a new Metrolink line several months ahead of schedule and I’d like to thank the teams involved for all their hard work in getting us to this point.
“It’s great for the area’s businesses and people travelling to and from all the great things Ashton has to offer.”
Tameside Council’s Executive Member for Transport and Land Use, Councillor Peter Robinson said: “These are exciting times for our borough with the Metrolink line to Ashton providing another piece in the public transport jigsaw for Tameside.
“You can’t fail to be impressed by the new public transport hub we have here now, with the bus station, train station and new Metrolink stop situated right next to each other.
“We have already seen the positive impact the tram service to Droylsden has had on that town and this will be equally positive for Ashton.
“On a personal note, as an avid football fan the fact the new line makes it easier to reach both Old Trafford and the City of Manchester stadium is a bonus.”
Tickets from the new stops 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.
An ‘anytime’ peak return ticket costs £5.40, with the off-peak (9.30am onwards) ticket costing just £3.80.
A range of weekly, four-weekly and annual season tickets offer even greater value.
Services starting at Ashton 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 East Disbury, Oldham and Rochdale at Market Street.
This latest 2.1-mile (3.4km) extension brings the total size of the current Metrolink network to 47.7 miles (76.8km), serving 73 stops.