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Half a billion pounds in EU funding for Manchester Metrolink

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is set to give £500m as a long-term loan to Manchester’s tram scheme to further expand the network with new trams and infrastructure.

The money will fund the long hoped-for ‘phase 3b’ of the construction plans can go ahead, which will make the network three times bigger, with 60 miles of track and 99 stops served by 94 trams.

The network will extend to Manchester Airport, Didsbury, Ashton-under-Lyne and Rochdale town centre. There are future plans to also take it to The Trafford Centre shopping complex, and to Stockport, south of Manchester.

The new line to Chorlton and St Werburgh’s Road, a conversion of an old heavy-rail line, opened this summer and has proved very popular with passengers.

The loan was described as part of the EIB’s pledge to support “sustainable public transport in leading European cities and to reduce reliance on private car use”.

Simon Brooks, EIB vice president responsible for the UK, said: “Extension of Greater Manchester's Metrolink network will transform tram links across the conurbation. The EIB is committed to supporting sustainable transport and successful completion of the project will improve the lives of Greater Manchester's residents for years to come.”

Andrew Fender, chairman of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, said: “The Metrolink expansion is the single largest investment in public transport in the UK, outside of London.

“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.

“I'm pleased that we've been able to work with the EIB to realise this ambitious vision on a sound financial footing and I look forward to seeing the network grow and spread to new destinations, across the region, in the coming years.”

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