Passengers were able to travel into the heart of Oldham from Monday 27 January, as the Metrolink network’s latest addition officially opened to the public.
The new line has four new stops – Westwood, Oldham King Street, Oldham Central and Oldham Mumps, with the latter integrating tram and bus services and providing a new, free park and ride site for Metrolink passengers.
The first in-service tram that morning passed through the new town centre at 5.09am, reaching the Westwood stop circa 5.30am.
The first tram from Rochdale departed at 6am, arriving at the new Oldham Mumps stop circa 6.18am.
Once open, journeys from Rochdale to Manchester Victoria will take around 45 minutes, while journeys from Oldham Mumps will take around half an hour.
Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, said:
“The new line looks fantastic and has transformed the town centre, not least at Mumps which is now unrecognisable compared to how it stood just a few years ago. During a visit this week, I was particularly impressed by the evident regeneration activity that is already underway at a number of sites along the route.
“I have no doubt that it will be an incredibly popular addition to the network.
“Delivering it has been a major civil engineering challenge, so to be able to open it several months ahead of schedule is an achievement in itself – but it is, of course, now the third new Metrolink line in a row to arrive early, which is simply outstanding.”
Councillor Jim McMahon, Oldham Council Leader, said: “Today is an historic and exciting day in Oldham’s history – and one that points to a much brighter future.
“We knew the biggest infrastructure project in our borough’s history would inevitably cause disruption, especially for businesses and motorists, and I want to thank people for the patience they’ve shown during the construction period.
“Metrolink has been the catalyst for all these plans and we are totally focused on delivering schemes like this that will transform what is on offer in Oldham town centre.”
The town centre line will bring the size of the current Metrolink network to 48 miles (77km), serving 76 stops.
The Oldham Loop Line closed to train services in October 2009 for conversion to Metrolink. More than 1.2 million journeys were made on it in its last year as a rail line – compared to more than 2.5 million in its first full year as a tram line.
The existing, temporary route between the former rail station at Werneth and Oldham Mumps will be decommissioned by the end of spring 2014.