Passengers are set to be aboard Metrolink’s new south Manchester line by the end of the month, Transport for Greater Manchester has announced.
The new line, with stops at St Werburgh’s Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy and Firswood, will give passengers a 15-minute link from Chorlton to St Peter’s Square.
Philip Purdy, Transport for Greater Manchester’s Metrolink Director, said: “Our newest line to passengers will be open within the next two weeks, giving people a fast and convenient way to travel that is cheaper to use than the car.
“This is a major milestone in Metrolink’s expansion and improvement programme, the largest single public transport investment project outside London.”
Driver training and commissioning works on the new line are now in their final stages and the date for the start of passenger services is expected to be announced shortly.
Driver training is due to start next month on the new line out to Oldham, with passenger services between Oldham Mumps and Manchester Victoria scheduled to begin from the Central Park stop by December and the remaining stops by March.
Tram services to Rochdale railway station are expected to begin in summer 2012.
All the new lines will be controlled by a new, state-of-the-art tram management system. This allows more trams to run on the network, giving drivers and controllers much more ability to manage individual vehicle schedules and movements.
The benefit to passengers waiting at stops is much more consistency in the running times of their trams as the system is more responsive and flexible, particularly at busy times.
It also means that passengers will ultimately be able to receive real-time information about their tram and when it is expected to arrive.
Philip added: “The technical issues we have to overcome to integrate this new system with the old one are very challenging.
“We want to get all of our new lines open and in service as soon as possible, I know that people will want to be using their Metrolink. But we can’t rush what we are doing and I would urge our potential customers along the Oldham line to please be patient.
“We have learned from our experience of integrating the new tram management system at MediaCityUK and the new Chorlton line.
“Metrolink does more than just help people get from A to B, it is a key catalyst for regeneration along the routes it serves. We are building for the future of Greater Manchester and this is another step on that journey.”
The £1.4 billion investment in Metrolink, including more new lines and new trams, will deliver a network that is three times the size it is now with a line beyond Oldham to Rochdale, one to Ashton-under-Lyne, and to East Didsbury and Manchester Airport, with a second line across Manchester city centre.
A new depot at Trafford has also been handed over to Metrolink operator Stagecoach. The hi-tech facility for maintenance and cleaning has room for up to 96 trams.
For passengers it means trams can now be stabled on both sides of the city, making the network better able to respond to peaks in demand caused by major events.
The Trafford depot will eventually become the new, enhanced control room for the network, replacing the existing, smaller one at the Queens Road depot.