Chris Grayling, secretary of state for transport, has granted Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) legal powers to build the new 3.4mile (5.5km) line under a Transport and Works Act order.
That means work could start on the line this winter – and be operational by 2020/2021. TfGM, which owns the Metrolink network, has developed plans for the Trafford Park line and will shortly appoint a contractor.
The delivery of the line will provide a major public transport boost for the area, offering fast, frequent transport links for thousands of workers in the area and better connecting people to business, leisure and retail opportunities.
Trafford Park itself is the largest major employment zone in Greater Manchester outside the city centre and is home to over 1,300 businesses and more than 33,000 jobs – with employees travelling from across Greater Manchester and further afield.
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Tony Lloyd, said: “Today’s announcement is another big step forward for Greater Manchester. I’m delighted that our long held ambition to build a new Metrolink line through Trafford Park is now about to become a reality.
“Our new Trafford Park line will connect people across Greater Manchester to thousands of new job opportunities as well as offering fast, frequent and sustainable links to some of our city-region’s greatest sporting and cultural venues, not to mention the Trafford Centre.
“This new line will boost our economy and bring us closer to our goal of a world class transport system for Greater Manchester. I look forward to seeing the first shovel in the ground this winter.”
Trafford Council leader, Sean Anstee, added: “This is great news for Trafford and the Greater Manchester area. It will bring countless opportunities for further investment in the borough and across the region.
“Excellent transport links are vital to make Greater Manchester as attractive as possible for businesses to establish themselves here and, with them, more jobs and apprenticeship opportunities.
“Trafford Council and Greater Manchester Combined Authority has worked closely with TfGM to enable this proposal to come to fruition and I want to thank those whose hard work and effort has managed to achieve this wonderful opportunity for the borough.”
Metrolink has tripled in size in recent years as part of a £1.5bn expansion, making it the largest light rail network in the UK.
Services currently run to 93 stops spanning 62 miles (100km) of track, catering for more than 35 million journeys a year.