Tireless Metrolink advocate and councillor Andrew Fender has retired from the political sphere after 41 years.
Andrew, who was first elected as a councillor in 1977, chaired his last meeting of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee on March 16 after choosing not to run for re-election next month.
Described as one of the most influential figures in the development of public transport in Greater Manchester, he chaired the Rail Study Group in 1982 and helped to develop the area’s ambitious plans for an overground tram system.
After overcoming challenges and spending countless hours campaigning, the contract to construct Metrolink was approved by the then transport minister Michael Portillo in 1989.
Queen Elizabeth II opened the light rail system in 1992.
His work did not end there as he became a crucial figure in the network’s ongoing expansion.
Transport for Greater Manchester chief executive Jon Lamonte stressed Andrew’s role in Metrolink’s development.
He said: “Over 10 years of planning, campaigning and construction went into transforming Metrolink from concept to reality and at the very front of it all was cllr Andrew Fender.
“The challenges faced during the embryonic stages should not be underestimated, with plans needing to satisfy the fundamental issues of economic viability, transport needs and regional regeneration – all of which Greater Manchester sorely needed at the time.
“It’s testament to Andrew’s unwavering passion for improving public transport that the project was able to overcome these hurdles, laying the ground work for the modern day system that has done so much to drive regeneration and make travel easier.
“Metrolink is just one element of his considerable legacy and I would personally like to wish Andrew all the best on what is an extremely well-earned retirement.”
Andrew said that it has been an honour to serve Greater Manchester but that, after 41 years, he felt the time was right to step aside.
He added: “I am proud of how far the region has developed in that time but there is still a lot of work to do as we look to develop an even more flexible and integrated transport system that will help cope with future economic and social demands.
“I am confident that the future of our public transport is in good hands and that the measures outlined in the 2040 Strategy will help deliver a cleaner, greener and more prosperous region.
“I will of course remain a committed transport enthusiast and will continue to watch progress with keen interest.”