The M-Pact consortium of Thales, Laing O'Rourke and GrantRail won preferred bidder status to carry out the work this week. This involves extending lines north to Rochdale via Oldham, east to Droylsden, and begin the route south to Manchester Airport by extending the line to Chorlton.
NCE also understands that a second announcement approving Manchester's £3bn Transport Innovation Fund bid, which includes further expansion of the tram network, is a month away.
This will be tied to bus improvements and a two zone congestion charge scheme in central Manchester (NCE 12 March).
Metrolink lines to Stockport, Manchester Airport and the Trafford Centre could be approved.