Tory cash vow may trig­ger ex­pan­sion in Metrolink routes

BUT LABOUR LA­BEL PROM­ISE AS ‘PA­THETIC’ BID TO COVER UP LACK OF IN­VEST­MENT

Manchester Evening News - - NEWS - By JEN­NIFER WIL­LIAMS news­[email protected]

BORIS John­son has promised cash which he says could ex­pand the Metrolink to Greater Manch­ester’s outer bor­oughs.

The Tories are promis­ing to hand over a long-term, de­volved pot of fund­ing to im­prove the re­gion’s pub­lic trans­port in­fra­struc­ture, which they sug­gest would be used to ex­pand the tram out to Stock­port and Bolton.

Trans­port sec­re­tary Grant Shapps has not said how much money the re­gion would get, or over what pe­riod of time.

A share of £4.2bn - split be­tween eight ar­eas - would be given to the mayor and lo­cal lead­ers who, in all like­li­hood, would then use it ac­cord­ing to the mas­ter­plan set out by Andy Burn­ham in the sum­mer.

That plan in­cludes a range of projects, even­tu­ally in­clud­ing tram-trains to parts of Stock­port and Wi­gan, but ini­tially Metrolink ex­ten­sions to Hale, Staly­bridge and Mid­dle­ton, plus new or­bital bus routes. How­ever an an­nounce­ment by the Con­ser­va­tives sug­gested they ‘ex­pected’ the cash to see the tram ex­tended to Bolton and Stock­port, both elec­tion bat­tle­grounds for the Tories and places that have se­verely strug­gled with con­gested North­ern Rail ser­vices.

Andy McDon­ald, Labour’s shadow trans­port sec­re­tary, said: “This an­nounce­ment is a pa­thetic at­tempt to cover up the govern­ment’s dis­as­trous and in­com­pe­tent fail­ure to in­vest in pub­lic trans­port.

“Tory cuts have caused pub­lic trans­port fares to rise at twice the rate of wages and thou­sands of bus routes to be cut, wors­en­ing con­ges­tion on our roads as a re­sult.

“The north is set to re­ceive £2,389 less per per­son than Lon­don on trans­port. The Tories have presided over an unbalanced and un­equal econ­omy.”

Mr Shapps said: “These plans will kick­start the trans­for­ma­tion of ser­vices so they match those in Lon­don, en­sur­ing more fre­quent and bet­ter ser­vices, more elec­tri­fi­ca­tion, mod­ern buses and trains and con­tact­less smart tick­et­ing.”

Greater Manch­ester has been push­ing the govern­ment to com­mit to a long-term trans­port fund­ing deal for a long time, so that it can plan its trans­port net­work into the fu­ture with cer­tainty.

The mayor has also launched a 20-year vi­sion for how he would spend any such cash, in­clud­ing the links it would build over the first few years.

Grant Shapps, left, and Andy McDon­ald

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