METROLINK'S new operator has signed up to making the tram network safer and more reliable.

Transport for Greater Manchester has appointed KeolisAmey Metrolink (KAM) to take over the running and maintaining of the tram system for up to 10 years.

Transport bosses say that key features of the new contract include a major focus on "improving operational reliability, and customer service and security — with an increased staff presence on the network, particularly in the evening and at weekends".

Cllr Andrew Fender, Chair of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, said: “Firstly, I’d like to place on record my thanks to MRDL for all their work and pay tribute to the staff who have played a crucial part in making the network what it is today — a fantastic, world-class light rail system.

“KeolisAmey Metrolink is a partnership between two international transport and infrastructure management specialists, with the experience and skills to operate Metrolink, create jobs, support the growth of the local economy and deliver innovative and pragmatic solutions that offer better passenger experiences.

“These are exciting times for Metrolink and the city-region and I warmly welcome KAM as the Metrolink operator. Together we will further realise the full potential and benefits of the unprecedented growth and investment we are overseeing in the network.”

She said: “We are looking forward to working with TfGM, our partners and the community to implement our exciting plans for what is already a high-performing network. Our approach will be focused on collaboratively working to keep Greater Manchester moving and growing.”

KAM says it is committed to sourcing a minimum of 40 per cent of supplier contracts within 25 miles of Greater Manchester and creating more than 300 jobs including drivers, apprenticeships and traineeships over the course of the contract.

This year marks Metrolink’s silver jubilee year, with the first trams having taken to the tracks on April 6, 1992, when services ran between Bury and Manchester Victoria.

Services to Altrincham followed soon after, before Her Majesty The Queen officially opened the network during a special ceremony on July 17 of that year.