METROLINK is to receive more than £40 million of Government cash to keep it on track during the coronavirus pandemic.

The £44 million funding comes after fears the tram network could be 'mothballed' due to falling ticket sales caused by social distancing measures with people avoiding using public transport.

But says

The cash is to help Metrolink, mitigate the impact of the loss of revenue and bring back normal service levels ahead expected increases in the number of people using it in September

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “Getting the cities going again will be crucial to the recovery of the UK economy. As people think about returning to the office, it is vital that we are able to offer them a Covid-safe public transport service to build the confidence on which any recovery will have to be based.

“That’s why I am pleased that the Government has removed the uncertainty that has been hanging over Metrolink. But this latest deal only covers the next 12 weeks and I would ask the Government to consider making a clear commitment to cover all losses up to the end of the financial year so that we can plan for the city’s recovery with more certainty.

“Until the pandemic hit, Metrolink operated without subsidy, with its revenues used to operate the network and repay the borrowing used to fund its expansion. Given the huge drop in ticket revenue, and without sufficient support from the Government, we would have a deficit running into tens of millions of pounds this year and next.

“I am grateful to the Transport Secretary for once again showing he is prepared to listen to us and for providing this support. But what we are asking for going forward to support the country’s largest tram network is a drop in the ocean compared to the transport package for London. The success of the Northern Powerhouse depends upon sustained investment in transport - both now and into the future.”