BUILDING work on the Metrolink line to the intu Trafford Centre is to begin next year ahead of its scheduled opening in winter 2019.

The extension to the shopping centre is a step closer after council leaders from the region’s 10 authorities signed off the £300m required to construct the tram line.

It is part of the Greater Manchester devolution deal agreed by Chancellor George Osborne last year to give the North West greater autonomy over transport in particular.

The project will cost an overall £350m with £20 million provided by Trafford Council in capital funding and £37 million already given by council leaders to buy 10 new trams.

Six new stops are due to be built as Metrolink’s growing network reaches out to an 11th new destination including outside the Imperial War Museum North and the EventCity exhibition centre on Barton Road.

Detailed designs will now be drawn up ahead of an official government hearing in July to request a final sign-off from transport ministers, which are likely to have changed following next week’s General Election.

A public consultation on the 5.5km Trafford Park line last year showed the scheme has received a majority backing.

Metrolink hope the proposed new line will boost Manchester’s economy and help the unemployed to find jobs as well as offer an alternative to car travel.

It follows the opening of the Manchester Airport line last November over a year ahead of schedule, expanding the network’s size to more than 50 miles and serving a total of 92 stops.

Over 30 million people a year visit the intu Trafford Centre, which is situated five miles outside Manchester city centre.

Meanwhile, work began last year on the ‘Second City Crossing’ extension which will begin at Lower Mosley Street and run through St Peters Square before turning down Princess Street and eventually joining the existing line outside the newly-refurbished Victoria station.

Metrolink first announced the plans for the Trafford Park line, Second City Crossing and airport extension back in 2009 as part of a £1.5 billion project.

The network already covers Manchester Airport, MediaCityUK, Eccles, Ashton-under-Lyne, East Didsbury, Altrincham, Rochdale, Oldham and Bury.

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