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2000-12-12 DET-001
Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

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Birmingham tram extensions one step closer - Prescott


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Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

Birmingham tram extensions one step closer - Prescott
_______________________________________________________________


date
12 December 2000
source Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions
type Press release



Two proposed extensions to the Midland Metro, costing £165m, have taken a step closer to becoming a reality, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott announced today.

The Government has provisionally accepted the value for money appraisal for the scheme as part of its consideration of the Local Transport Plan for the area. The promoters will now apply for powers to build the extension under the Transport and Works Act (TWA).

Detailed allocations for Local Transport Plans countrywide will be announced on Thursday.

The new Midland Metro lines, if approved following TWA procedures, would run from Birmingham Snow Hill to Five ways via the City Centre, and from Wednesbury to Brierley Hill, via Dudley Town Centre and Merry Hill. These would both be extensions to the current Line 1 running between Birmingham and Wolverhampton.

John Prescott was opening the new Park and Ride facility at Wednesbury Parkway, the first of three proposed sites which will encourage even more people to use the Metro.

John Prescott said:

''I''m delighted to be here today. I am pleased to be able to say that the proposals for the new lines have passed our value for money tests. The scheme must now go through the TWA procedures in order to see whether powers to construct and operate the new lines should be given. I understand the promoters intend to make a TWA application next year.

''In our 10-Year Plan for Transport we said that accessible, integrated and environmentally sound light rail systems could revolutionise public transport in towns and cities. Midland Metro Line 1 is a good example of this, and the Park and Ride facility I opened today is a prime example of integrated transport in action.

''Local problems need local solutions. This is why we asked local authorities to work together and with transport providers to produce a plan for their own areas.

''I am delighted with the response I have received and on Thursday I will be announcing the allocations I have awarded so that authorities can put their plans into action.''

Notes to Editors

Midland Metro Line 1 between Wolverhampton St George''s and Birmingham Snow Hill opened in May 1999. It is 20.4 km in length with a total of 23 stops. It includes 2 km of street running in Wolverhampton. The proposal is for two extensions:

(i) Birmingham Snow Hill to Five Ways via the City Centre (the Birmingham City Centre Tramway) which is 3.2 km in length with 9 stops, a one-way journey time of 13 minutes and an average speed of almost 15kph. The Tramway would extend the existing line 1 from Snow Hill, through the city centre and south west to Five Ways. A major interchange with the heavy rail network would be provided at New Street Station;

(ii) Wednesbury to Brierley Hill, via Dudley Town Centre and Merry Hill. This extension is 11.7 kilometres long with 16 stops, a one-way journey time of 23.5 minutes and an average speed of almost 30kph. The extension would run from Wednesbury, on the existing Line 1, via the major development areas of Merry Hill and the Waterfront. The corridor forms part of the South Central Black Country and West Birmingham Regeneration Zone.

The capital cost of the new lines is about #165m split between the Brierley Hill line (#114m) and the City Centre line (#51m). The promoters envisage that both extensions would be constructed under a single contract.

In line with Guidance issued earlier this year authorities wishing to take forward light rail or other major public transport schemes seek a provisional view from Government on whether the appraisal of the scheme as proposed passes the tests that are used to determine eligibility for Government funding. The promoters would apply for Transport and Works Act (TWA) powers and, if successful, would then need to seek final Government agreement to the project.

The provisional view is given solely in respect of the economic appraisal, and does not in any way indicate a possible view of the Secretary of State on any TWA application that may subsequently be made.

The Government made clear in the Transport 2010: The Ten Year Plan that light rail, trams and other rapid transit systems can play a significant part in improving the attractiveness and quality of public transport in major conurbations. In particular they can compete with the car in terms of journey time and convenience and can help to reduce congestion and pollution. There is growing evidence that light rail can be successful in attracting people out of their cars. Although Midland Metro Line 1 only opened in May 1999, surveys by the Passenger Transport Authority show that 15% of passengers formerly travelled by car.

There are currently four systems in operation outside London - in the West Midlands, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield. The Government has recently approved a new line in Nottingham, an extension of the Tyne and Wear Metro to Sunderland and three extensions to the Manchester Metrolink have been approved for funding. Proposals from a number of authorities ; Bristol and South Gloucestershire; Leeds; and South Hampshire and Portsmouth are currently under active consideration. Other authorities are working up proposals for the longer term. The Government has set a target of doubling light rail passenger journeys by 2010 and made provision in the 10 Year Plan for up to 25 new lines.

Local transport plans (LTPs) were introduced by the Government to improve the pervious arrangements for planning and funding local transport measures. They:

- cover 5 year periods, offering greater certainty of future funding for authorities - provide a strategic transport planing framework, linked to development plans and regeneration proposals

- take partnership approach, involving local communities, local busin+ess and transport [providers

- place greater emphasis on targets, performance indicators and monitoring;

- emphasise intgrated solutions, looking across all types of transport.

LTPs were submitted by all highway authorities and Passenger Transport Authorities in July. An announcement on the funding for LTPs for the next 5 years will be made on 14 December.

Press Enquiries: 020 7944 3066; out of hours: 020 7944 5925/5945 Public Enquiries Unit: 020 7944 3000; Email: press@detr.gov.uk Press Notices available via DETR website: http://www.detr.gov.uk


Railhub Archive ::: 2000-12-12 DET-001





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