George Osborne has opened the new tram link to Manchester Airport, 12 months ahead of schedule.
The nine mile extension was part of the £1.5billion Greater Manchester Transport Fund agreed in May 2009 and includes 15 new stops.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer was on hand to open the new link and even had a go behind the controls.
He said: “These are exactly the sort of transport improvements that will not only allow Manchester to prosper and thrive but also help turn our vision of a Northern Powerhouse economy into reality.”
— George Osborne (@George_Osborne) November 3, 2014
Trams have been running test runs on the new route since October 20, but ran with paying customers for the first time on Monday November 3.
“Seeing our trams reach Manchester Airport more than a year ahead of schedule is a truly amazing achievement,” said Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of the Transport of Greater Manchester Committee.
The extension will provide extra public transport links for Wythenshawe and will also serve a 300 space park-and-ride facility at Sale Water Park.
“It’s a game-changer for the communities set to benefit from its 15 new stops and frequent fully accessible services,” Fender added.
“For people already living along the line, it will provide new ways of getting to work, leisure, health and education opportunities.”
The airport link, which will initially run to Cornbrook until 2017 when extra city centre track capacity will be available, takes the Metrolink network up to 57 miles serving 92 stops.
The opening sparked widespread excitement on social media.
Great news about Greater Manchester Tram Airport link #manchesterhour
— James Page (@jrpuk) October 30, 2014
Trams now have Manchester Airport on front instead of Tram on Test pic.twitter.com/5wuvYOxDsQ
— Kurt Stephens (@ManchesterKurt) October 29, 2014
Unbelievably it seems to be standing room only on trams heading towards Manchester after Shadowmoss Road pic.twitter.com/LSMrAsRPrL
— Kurt Stephens (@ManchesterKurt) November 3, 2014
However it wasn’t all plain sailing, as David Pendray discovered one or two snags.
@MCRMetrolink At Manchester airport for first tram. Atm: ticket machine in station is out of service and barriers block tram platform 🙁
— David Pendray (@dpen2000) November 3, 2014