TRANSPORT Secretary Grant Shapps will today signal that Manchester’s Metrolink is finally being extended to Bolton.

He said that if the Conservatives win the December 12 General Election they will provide the millions of pounds needed to extend the tram network to the town and Stockport.

The cash will come from a new, devolved £4.2billion long-term Local Public Transport Fund to be allocated to the eight city regions including Greater Manchester.

Cabinet minister Mr Shapps is expected to come to Bolton to make the announcement and give more details of the proposals later today.

It puts flesh on the bones of the promises to extend the network made by his predecessor as Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham in January.

The news was welcomed last night by Cllr David Greenhalgh, leader of Bolton Council, as ‘phenomenal’.

There has been lobbying to extend the Metrolink to Bolton since its foundation in 1992.

The Local Public Transport Fund will give the eight combined authority areas the control and cash needed to invest in local trains, buses and trams.

Mr Shapps predicted Greater Manchester projects it will pay for include extensions to the Metrolink tram system, including to Stockport and Bolton.

In advance of today’s visit he said: “These plans will change the face of local transport in towns and cities across the country.

“They will kickstart the transformation of services so they match those in London, ensuring more frequent and better services, more electrification, modern buses and trains and contactless smart ticketing.

“A Conservative majority government will deliver the transport investment that our towns and cities need.”

Cllr Greenhalgh said: “This is a phenomenal announcement for our area and shows the Conservative commitment to the Northern Powerhouse.

“The new devolved Public Transport Fund will kickstart the transformation of services across Greater Manchester so they match those in London, ensuring more frequent and better services, more electrification, modern buses and trains and smart ticketing.

“With this new devolved transport fund, we will be able to invest in local transport priorities, like funding the Metrolink tram system to Bolton.”

In January Mr Burnham and Mr Grayling expressed the hope that the Metrolink expansion to Bolton start within three years. They said tram-trains could run along existing railway lines, using both Metrolink and Network Rail tracks, including a route on the Atherton line between Manchester and Wigan.

Mr Shapps said a new Conservative government would support Greater Manchester leaders to exercise their new powers over buses under the 2017 Bus Services Act.