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Ladyman gets tough on 'macho' tram schemes

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TRANSPORT MINISTER Stephen Ladyman accused some councils of promoting tram schemes to score points against neighbouring local authorities at a Labour fringe meeting.

'I won't talk about specific schemes, but to everybody proposing a tram scheme I say look at what you could get out of buses at a lower price first, ' said Ladyman.

'If you do decide to go for a tram on transport grounds - and not macho ones - come to us with your proposals.

'But hear this. If you tell us it is a £100M scheme we will do a £100M value for money sum. If you then come back six months later telling us, 'Sorry, it's now a £200M scheme', we are not going to say 'oh you little scamps'. We are going to do a value for money sum on £200M and if it is not good value we will can it, ' he said.

Later, Network Rail chief executive John Armitt offered hope for some tram promoters, saying that regional tram and light rail schemes could replace some heavily subsidised rail services.

He said high levels of subsidy for rural rail services were unsustainable, but that tram or light rail schemes could work better.

'We may see an increasing role for hybrid services such as trams and lighter rail replacing heavy rail, ' he told a Labour party conference fringe meeting this week.

MH

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