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Merseytram
Merseytram-logo.jpg
Info
Locale Liverpool & Knowsley
Number of lines 3
Operation
Operator(s) Merseytravel

Merseytram was a proposed tramway for Liverpool and surrounding districts of Merseyside, England. Originally proposed in 2001 - forming part of the Merseyside Local Transport Plan - it called for three lines, connecting outlying suburbs of the city with the city centre.

Contents

History

The project was given the go-ahead by Alistair Darling in December 2002. After extensive public consultation, the contract to build the first two lines was initially awarded in late 2004, however, problems with the tender bid with regards to best value forced the cancellation of the contract, and the reopening of the tender process. In April 2005, the M-Pact consortium was named as the preferred bidder.

Collapse

Budget for the first stage of the project was set at £225 million, with the Government providing £170 million of the cost. However, by 2005, rising costs had led to a new requirement of £238 million against a cost of £325m. Despite the increased costs, to compound matters, the design of the routes was not even finalised at this point.

The Government had refused any additions to the initial amount, and asked the two councils who would be supporting Line One - Liverpool City Council and Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council - to make an agreement not to seek additional funding from the Government in the event that the project ran over-budget.

Although some attempts to meet this request were made, Transport Minister Derek Twigg felt that the assurances of the two councils that any shortfall would be met by Merseytravel and a £24 million contingency fund were insufficient, and announced the cancellation of the scheme on November 29, 2005. However, Merseytram are planning to take legal action against the government and this may result in the scheme still going ahead.[citation needed]

Plans called for it to use Bombardier Transportation's Flexity Swift trams.

The tram network had formed part of a larger regeneration project in the areas in which it was intended to run, related to Liverpool's award of European Capital of Culture in 2008.

At the beginning of 2008, fresh hopes of the Tram project resurfacing were raised. Keolis who would have been operating the trams originally, confirmed they are still on board and in ongoing talks with Merseytravel.

From the 1st Oct 2008 new health & safety regulations applies to light rail (trams) as well as heavy rail (trains), so the safety levels are now higher and hence more expensive.

Future

Merseytram was placed as a priority project within MerseyTravel's transport plan for 2006-2011, and as alignments have been preserved within all current and approved projects along the Line 1 route, it is likely the project will go ahead as planned before the rights to construction end in February 2010. On 18 April 2008 it was announced that a new bid for funds had been requested by the Department for Transport, who now seemed considerably keener on the idea of Trams on Merseyside.[1] High hopes that the long awaited project was back on track were raised even further with another announcement a few days later, that the new business case for Line 1 was to be submitted to the DfT in the second half of 2008.

It was published by the local press in May 2008 that should Everton Football Club's relocation to Kirkby just outside of Liverpool, be granted planning permission then the likelihood of Merseytram going ahead will increase.[2] However, in November 2009, Everton Football Club's proposed stadium at Kirkby was rejected. [3]

In November 2009 Merseytravel was given permission to seek new funding from the Department for Transport. If it is successfull the £450 million project will be back on track. [4]

Liverpool Councillor, Stuart Monkcom has been vociferous in his opposition to the tram scheme, highlighting poor financial performance of other tram networks. Mr Monkcom states, "In 2006, for example, Manchester's Altram accounts showed a loss of £8M due to overoptimistic passenger projections, while in the West Midlands the Midland Metro, also operated by Altram, showed losses of about £16M. Worst of all, down in London, Tramtrack Croydon Ltd recorded debts of £100M and was seeking financial restructuring in order to continue trading." Councillor Monkcom continues, "The obvious answer would seem to be to consider improving and expanding Merseyrail which, outside of London, is the best underground and surface local rail scheme in the UK." Large projects in the city have emerged due to regeneration, which were not planned on the conception of the tram scheme. The large docklands developments, Liverpool Waters and Wirral Waters were not planned with Liverpool's John Lennon airport having increased passenger levels substantially. Both football club's, Liverpool FC and Everton FC, are both planning new stadia. All these projects ideally would require high throughput rapid-transit transport to ensure success, as was the case in London Docklands, with the Docklands Light Railway being the base of the regeneration project. Councillor Monkcom states, "Better still, an elevated rapid-transit scheme such as has been provided in London's Docklands could also link into Liverpool Waters and Wirral Waters, restoring in a 21st century context the much loved former Liverpool overhead railway."[5]

Planned services

Proposed services.
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City Centre Loop

The hub of the Merseytram system would have been a loop around Liverpool city centre. Designed to be constructed in two stages (simultaneous with Line One and Line Two), the loop would have covered major transport hubs (Liverpool Lime Street, for mainline services; Moorfields for the Merseyrail network; Paradise Street Interchange for City bus services; and the Pier Head for Mersey Ferry services), tourist destinations (including St. George's Hall, the Tate Liverpool and the Albert Dock), and the major shopping thoroughfares.

Line One

Line One would have travelled from the Liverpool city centre loop, heading northwesterly to the Royal Liverpool University Hospital and out to West Derby and Croxteth, terminating at Kirkby; a distance of some 11 miles (18 kilometres). On December 21, 2004, the Merseytram Line 1 Transport and Works Act application was approved by the Secretary of State. The line was originally intended to start construction on July 1, 2005 for a 2007 opening.

Line Two

Line Two - intended for a 2008 opening - would have used the city centre loop and headed east to Prescot and Whiston, via Knotty Ash and Page Moss. By the time of the project's cancellation, the line had completed the public consultation stage.

Line Three

Line Three was planned to be a connection with Liverpool John Lennon Airport, and was only in the study stage at the time of the cancellation.

See also

References

External links


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