The new Trafford Park Metrolink tram line is scheduled to fully open for passengers months earlier than expected in April next year.

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham made the announcement on the platform of the new Trafford Centre stop after the first daytime test tram arrived there.

The pencilled-in date is a full seven months before the £350m project was initially scheduled for completion.

The M.E.N. was aboard the tram from the new Parkway stop in Trafford Park. Previously, trams on the new route have only been tested at night.

Driver training is now expected to begin in the New Year.

Mr Burnham meanwhile gave a cautious welcome to a pre-election Conservative Party announcement on transport infrastructure funding.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps did not say exactly how much it would be, but suggested the money could be used to expand Metrolink to Stockport and Bolton.

A share of £4.2bn - split between eight areas - is set to be given to the mayor and local leaders.

Mr Burnham said: "Was it electioneering or do they mean it?

"It was a bit like 'hang on a minute, how are they going to fund it?

"I will take these commitments on face value for now, but I am writing letters to these ministers about it.

"I would like to talk to them."

The final 15 metres of the new Trafford line's track, near the Coronation Street set at the junction of Trafford Wharf Road and Warren Bruce Road, was laid last month.

The first daytime tram test of the line

At just shy of three and a half miles long, the new line will run through Trafford Park, one of Europe's largest trading estates which is home to more than 1,300 businesses employing over 35,000 people.

Six new stops will feature in total:

The line will run from the existing Pomona stop in Trafford and TfGM has plans to run trams from Manchester city centre to the Trafford Centre through an improved stop at Crumpsall.

All aboard trams to the Trafford Centre

Mr Burnham said the project was the first to benefit from devolution powers signed by the region's civic leaders and central government in November, 2014, alongside a £20 million contribution from Trafford council.

And he said the opening date, which is subject to the testing and driver training, would mark 'another step' towards a London-style integrated transport system involving buses, trains and trams.

"With Metrolink we are once again able to demonstrate a track record of delivering major schemes on budget and ahead of schedule," Mr Burnham said.

"The Trafford Park Line was the first project to benefit from the devolution deal and is a shining example of what we can achieve with the right powers and funding.

"There is no doubt it is a blueprint for how Greater Manchester could run other transport systems in the future and represents a key step forward on our journey towards a more integrated, London-style transport system."

The last section of track being put down last month

The project marks the last of Metrolink's roughly £2 billion expansion programme which has run over the last decade and brought new lines to East Didsbury, Ashton-under-Lyne, Rochdale via Oldham and Manchester Airport.

Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium, the Imperial War Museum North and EventCity will be served by the new line, with the hope that often heavy traffic around the Trafford Centre would be reduced.

Services will initially run from Cornbrook through Pomona to the Trafford Centre every 12 minutes, with trams running through to Crumpsall before the end of the year, when the project was originally due to complete.

The opening of the new line will bring the number of Metrolink stops to 99 and it took two years to construct.

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