Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Eddie's Historic Tram Ride Takes Him Back 50 Years ; Last Passenger on Old Railway in Metrolink First Line Bought for Pounds 1 by Far-Sighted Chiefs

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Eddie's Historic Tram Ride Takes Him Back 50 Years ; Last Passenger on Old Railway in Metrolink First Line Bought for Pounds 1 by Far-Sighted Chiefs

Article excerpt

ARAILWAY historian made his own history when he travelled on the new East Didsbury Metrolink line.

Eddie Johnson, 70, was among the first passengers to travel on the new line when services began yesterday.

It comes more than 50 years after he also made history after he became the very last passenger to travel from Withington station on the former railway line. The line closed to passenger services in the 1960s and council chiefs bought it for just Pounds 1 in 1983 so it could one day be saved for Metrolink.

Grandfather-of-five Eddie, from Burnage, was presented with a commemorative 'ticket' to mark his achievement by Coun Andrew Fender, chairman of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee. He said: "I used to travel on this railway line to London. I saw the old line close and become decayed. Now it has gone full circle.

Watching it be reborn has been amazing. It was great to be there and be on the first tram."

Eddie has a history of being first and last passenger on rail services. He was the first passenger to travel on the first electrified train from Manchester to Crewe in 1960.

The 2.7-mile East Didsbury route is an extension of the line that ended at St Werburgh's Road in Chorlton. It has opened three months ahead of schedule.

When the Pounds 1.4bn Big Bang expansion is completed, with an extension to the airport, it will be the biggest tram network in the country. The line has five new stops at Withington, Burton Road, West Didsbury, Didsbury Village and East Didsbury.

It is hoped it will ease congestion on some of Manchester's busiest commuter routes, including Kingsway, Wilmslow Road and Princess Parkway.

A 300-space park-and-ride site, which is free for Metrolink passengers, has been built at the East Didsbury stop. The journey to the city centre takes less than half an hour.

Almost exactly 30 years ago to the day, Mr Fender led a rail study group that encouraged the then Greater Manchester Council to buy a stretch of the former Manchester Midland mainline through Chorlton and Didsbury for just Pounds 1. That stopped the line being sold to developers, and it is now the route of the service.

through Chorlton and Didsbury for just Pounds 1. …

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