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Darling calls time on Leeds supertram revival

NEWS

TRANSPORT SECRETARY Alistair Darling finally lost patience with backers of the Leeds Supertram last week and axed the project once and for all.

He scrapped a revised, cut down 21km scheme because offi cials had failed to convince him of its value for money.

'In cash terms the cost to government has almost doubled from £664M to £1.3bn over the 40 year financing period, ' said Darling.

'The new proposal is also a reduced scheme in which greater risks are borne by the public sector. Clearly it does not represent the best value for money for the people of Leeds or the best use of public money'.

The Department for Transport withdrew funding for the original 28km tram scheme in July 2004 when costs soared on light rail projects in Manchester, Leeds and Portsmouth (NCE 22 July 2004).

Officials have since been renegotiating with Darling, who did not rule out reinstating the cash if costs were pared back.

Furious officials at Metro, the West Yorkshire passenger transport authority, hit back at Darling, accusing the government of underspending on transport infrastructure in the North.

'This is a disgraceful decision which refl ects the government's lack of any clear policy on transport or on the development of the cities and regions outside London and the South East, ' said Metro chairman Karam Hussain.

'This region suffers from a £200M Department for Transport underspend every year, ' he added.

Treasury fi ures show that per capita spending on transport in London is more than double that of any other region in the country (see graph).

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