Manchester's oldest Metrolink trams to be replaced

The Queen said at the Metrolink opening that it would "improve communication" between the north and south of Greater Manchester

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All of Greater Manchester's oldest trams will be replaced with new vehicles by 2014 in a £64m investment, transport officials have announced.

The decision comes on the 20th anniversary of the launch of the Metrolink system.

The 32 original trams will be replaced with new vehicles provided by manufacturer Bombardier and propulsion supplier Vossloh Kiepe by 2014.

A further 62 new trams will be in use as new lines are being built.

The new M5000 models are up to four times less likely to develop faults, 10 tonnes lighter and use less energy than the old T68s.

'Well-earned retirement'

Construction is under way on lines to Rochdale train station, Droylsden, Ashton-under-Lyne, East Didsbury, Oldham, Rochdale, Manchester Airport and Wythenshawe.

Andrew Fender, chair of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, said: "This decision signals the end of one chapter for Metrolink and the start of a new one.

"Our T68 vehicles were the first of their kind in the UK and served the first modern light rail network of its kind in the country.

"It is clear that our T68s no longer live up to the standards that passengers expect.

"The time has now come for them to enter a well-earned retirement."

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