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Phased construction to solve Metrolink cash crisis

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CONSTRUCTION OF the Manchester Metrolink extension could take place in phases as a way to overcome funding problems, Metrolink officials said last week.

But this option would mean that construction of whole sections of the line could delayed.

Original plans involved the simultaneous building of three new lines to Oldham, Ashton and Manchester Airport. This depended on the government providing £520M.

'If we can do it in five years we will do it in five years but if it takes seven years then the people of Manchester will understand the reason why, ' said Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive director general Chris Mulligan.

Construction of two of the lines is expected to start immediately, with the third being deferred.

Transport secretary Alistair Darling halted the scheme in August after government's contribution escalated by £300M since project approval in 2000 (NCE 5 August).

But prime minister Tony Blair established a working party, chaired by transport minister Tony McNulty, to determine the best way to get the extension built (NCE 30 September).

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