PTAs respond to Government tram decisions

Friday, December 2, 2005

Responding to the recent decision by the Government to refuse funding for new tram schemes in Leeds, Merseyside and South Hampshire, Cllr Mark Dowd, Chair of the PTA special interest group (which brings together leading councillors from all seven of the UK’s PTAs), said:

‘The Government has said that it is not ‘anti-tram’ and that ‘the benefits of light rail are not in doubt.’ We share that view. Light rail and modern trams remain the right solution on some of our busiest urban corridors. They have a proven record of attracting motorists out of their cars and of shaping and stimulating urban regeneration. That’s why light rail is a key element in the transport strategies of successful cities across Europe and the rest of the World.’

‘However, after recent decisions we need to find a new way of developing and approving tram schemes, and we need the Government to be clearer and more consistent about what quality of public transport provision it wants to see - and is prepared to contribute to. It is a colossal waste of both professional and financial resources to spend upwards of ten years appraising and re-appraising schemes in exactly the way specified by the DfT, only to see them scrapped at the eleventh hour. The damage caused goes much wider than the loss of the scheme itself – wider transport and regeneration strategies have been based on the assumption that earlier Government approval for tram schemes means that those schemes will happen. Scrapping tram schemes at such a late stage leaves a big tear in the canvas of urban renewal. There is no adequate ‘Plan B’.’

‘The recent traumas over light rail schemes in our major cities have been an unhappy experience for everyone involved. Private sector confidence in financing and supplying the light rail sector is also damaged. To prevent a reoccurrence we hope we can now sit down with Government to find a way of ensuring that more UK cities can still benefit from light rail and modern trams through a faster, more affordable and more stable procurement and approval process.’