The loan represents around a third of the total cost of the expansions and will be used to purchase new LRVs and construct the additional infrastructure required to extend the network to Oldham and Rochdale town centres by mid-2014, and Ashton-under-Lyne, East Didsbury and Manchester Airport via Wythenshawe by mid-2016. A second line across Manchester city centre is also planned, and once completed will take the network to 97km and 99 stations. It will be served by a fleet of 94 LRVs.
Greater Manchester Passenger Executive (GMPTE) appointed the MPact-Thales consortium to design, build, and maintain the Phase 3B extensions in August 2010.
"The Metrolink expansion is the single largest investment in public transport in Britain outside of London," says Councillor Andrew Fraser, chair of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, which is overseeing the investment on behalf of GMCA. "It will deliver a legacy for Greater Manchester that will regenerate and transform key district centres and provide new connections to the labour market for businesses. As such, it will play a vital role in keeping the region's economy growing now and long into the future."
Earlier this year LRVs began operating on the new 2.8km line from Trafford Bar to St Werburgh's Road, and a 400m branch off the Eccles Line to Mediacity UK. The new 6.3km line from Piccadilly to Droylsden, the 22.5km route from the city centre to Rochdale will open in stages, with Central Park operational by the end of the year, Oldham Mumps by March 2012 and Rochdale Railway Station by next summer.