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Local control of spending would boost light rail

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TRAM SCHEMES across the UK have failed because the government has not delegated control of transport spending to the regions, engineers were told last week.

Britain must learn from the example of European cities if light rail schemes are to flourish in future.

This could involve introducing elected mayors with their own budgets to lead projects and drive them forward.

'We could do so much better in the UK if we learnt from our European colleagues, ' Faber Maunsell director of rail Malcolm Taylor told delegates at NCE's Future of Light Rail conference last week.

'The Department for Transport's grip over local purse strings needs to be reconsidered, ' he said.

'There is a future for light rail in London and Edinburgh because of Transport for London and Transport Initiatives Edinburgh, but there is a significant absence of central support to smaller cities, ' said Nottingham City Council express transit project development manager Chris Deas.

Lack of control over bus services was also blamed by speakers and delegates for the failure of some tram schemes to collect expected revenues.

. 'Deregulation of bus services and an integrated transport system are mutually incompatible, ' said consultant Tony Young.

peakers also criticised the Department for Transport (DfT) for delaying publication of advice to cities on planning and implementing light rail schemes.

But the DfT claims guidance has not been delayed and will be put out this year.

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