"I am particularly pleased that the last government committed funding for this project before the last general election," said Councillor Andrew Fender, chair of the TfGM Committee. "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."

There are three intermediate stops on the new extension at Audenshaw, Ashton Moss, and Ashton West. Park-and-ride facilities for 200 cars are provided at Ashton Moss with a further 194 spaces at Ashton West.

Services run from Ashton-under-Lyne at 12-minute intervals to Manchester Piccadilly and Bury with the journey from Ashton to Piccadilly taking just over 30 minutes.

This latest extension brings the total size of the Metrolink network to 76.8km serving 73 stops. Three more extensions are currently under construction to the airport, through the centre of Oldham and to Rochdale Town Centre.