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Manchester - Salford Quays opening

Prime Minister Tony Blair formally opened the Salford Quays extension of Manchester's Metrolink on the 6th December 1999 and announced to the press and public that proposals for further extensions had been examined by senior Ministers and "looked promising". The Prime Minister, who was accompanied by his Transport Minister, Lord Gus Macdonald, stated that light rail can be an alternative to the car and stated that the public/private partnership that had been responsible for building and operating the system was "exactly the type of infrastructure project we need". He was welcomed by Councilor Joe Clarke, Chair of Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority, who stated he was pleased to see that Mr Blair was supporting the projected extensions. Manchester had managed to lay on the type of weather for which it is famous.

The Prime Minister arrived at Piccadilly station just after mid-day and boarded car 2006, one of the new cars delivered specially for the new line. At Salford Quays the tram broke through a barrier before stopping for speeches and a photocall. Once these were over the PM walked around the assembled crowd where he was able to shake the hands of the LRTA Treasurer, Manchester Area Officer and the former Manchester Area Officer. As he left the guests adjourned to the Copthorne for refreshments.

Back at Piccadilly the first service car, 2003, was prepared to commence public service at 14.03. However the start was delayed whilst Martin Garrett of Altram and Metrolinx the cat made a floral presentation to the first passenger, 10 year old Beckie Mickleburgh of Nottingham.

7 December 1999

Public operation is expected to start with a 12 minute frequency commencing at 2pm after the opening ceremony at midday.

4 December 1999

The Transport Minister Lord (Gus) MacDonald is due to perform the opening ceremony of the first section of the Eccles extension at the Salford Quays Metro stop on Monday 6 December 1999.

3 December 1999

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