WORK is advancing on the £350 million Trafford Park Metrolink extension.

To celebrate its progress political, transport and commercial leaders gathered at intu Trafford Centre to view the latest updates.

The event was held to demonstrate the construction progress made on the line’s six new stops over the last few months. Platforms and shelters have been installed at five of the stops, with the final platform due to be lifted into place next month near EventCity.

The £350m Trafford Park Line extension, which is due to open in the first half of 2020, will add a further 5.5km and six stops to Metrolink, already the UK’s largest light rail network.

The new line is being funded by Greater Manchester’s Devolution Deal, which was signed by the city-region’s leaders in 2014. Trafford Council is providing £20m towards the project.

Cllr Mark Aldred, Chair of the TfGM Committee, said: “This project is an extremely important piece of our regional jigsaw as Trafford Park and intu Trafford Centre are two of the economic hearts of our city-region. The new line will provide a fast, reliable and frequent transport option to all of the employment, cultural and leisure opportunities that exist along the route.

“Just as importantly it will give people a real alternative to the car, which is vital as we attempt to reduce the number of cars on the road and the amount of harmful emissions polluting our air.”

Cllr Mike Cordingley, Trafford Council’s Executive Member for Finance, said: “It’s no secret that Trafford Park is a hugely important part of the local economy, providing thousands of employment opportunities as well as a wide variety of leisure opportunities that attract millions of visitors every year.

“That’s why it’s so great to see the progress that has been made so far and we, as a local authority, are really looking forward to the completion of the project and seeing how it will stimulate growth, regeneration and investment even further.”

intu Trafford Centre is one of the largest shopping centres in the UK. It has nearly 300 stores and leisure attractions, attracts 30 million annual visitors and has 8,000 employees.

Regional Centre Director, Alison Niven, said: “We’re really excited about completion of the Trafford Park Line project as it will significantly enhance our links to the rest of the region at what is a key time for the centre with the £70million development of Barton Square.”

Contractor MPact-Thales (MPT) has laid approximately 60 per cent of the track for the new line and will soon start to install the overhead lines and associated equipment to power the trams. Significant changes to highways in Trafford Park are taking place to accommodate the Metrolink line, with some of the new tram/highway signalised junctions already completed.