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More money for UK light rail

01 Jan 2003

ANNOUNCING on December 10 transport funding allocations to local authorities in England outside London for 2003-04, Transport Secretary Alistair Darling confirmed that a package of £520m had been agreed for extending the Manchester Metrolink light rail network to Oldham, Rochdale, Ashton-under-Lyne and Manchester Airport. Total cost is £820m, of which the government is providing £460m and Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority £60m. The private sector is to provide the remaining £300m.

GMPTA's executive expected 'within the next two weeks' to select two consortia from its shortlist of four (right), looking to award the single 'big bang' contract to build 56 km of extensions and operate the existing 39 km network by late 2003. Construction is due to start in spring 2004, with all the new routes to be completed by 2010.

The government has also granted 'provisional approval' for Line 1 of the three-route Merseytram network in Liverpool, and is to provide up to £170m of the £225m cost of building the 19 km route from Kirkby to King's Waterfront via a city-centre loop. Line 1 will have 30 stops and a fleet of 21 LRVs, and is due to open in 2006-07. Merseyside PTE is hoping to apply for powers under the Transport & Works Act in mid-2003, and will then call tenders to build and operate the line.

Funding allocations to local authorities in Yorkshire included £12m for the Leeds Supertram scheme, which would see 28 km of light rail built at a cost of £500m (RG 4.02 p168). In his formal response to studies examining potential road and rail improvements along the M1 motorway in the East Midlands and on the A453 corridor between the M1 and Nottingham, Darling encouraged 'local partners' to take forward development work on proposals for a light rail network in Leicester and for two more routes linking Nottingham to Clifton and Beeston.

  • As the centrepiece of its emerging 15-year strategy, Tyne & Wear PTA was due last month to consider proposals to build nine light rail routes feeding into the Tyne & Wear Metro at Four Lane Ends, central Newcastle, Gateshead, South Shields and Sunderland. Tyne & Wear's allocation of £44·7m announced on December 10 included funding for ongoing track-doubling work on the metro's South Shields branch.

    TABLE: Metrolink shortlist

    n GMRT Co: AMEC Project Investments, Bombardier Transportation, FirstGroup

    n Greater Manchester Tramways Ltd: Stagecoach Group Holdings, Alstom Holdings, John Mowlem & Co, Edmund Nuttall, Virgin Group

    n Maintram: Bechtel Enterprises (UK), Amey Ventures, Group 4 Falck Global Solutions, MTR Corp, Semaly

    n Manchester Tram Company: Serco, SNC Lavalin