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Transport Plan aims to build on old networks

ONLY A handful of the light rail projects provided for in the Transport Plan are likely to be new schemes, it emerged this week.

The plan provides up to £3bn for 25 light rail projects, but the great majority are likely to be extensions to existing systems.

Only five councils have indicated that they want new light rail systems. Hampshire County Council is hoping to build a 14km light rail project linking Fareham, Gosport and Portsmouth, whereas a spokesman at Liverpool's Merseytravel indicated that it has plans to introduce a tram network.

Bristol and south Gloucestershire councils have plans for a new light rail scheme and Leeds is submitting bids for three lines to the south, north east and north west of the city.

Newcastle, Sheffield, Birmingham and Nottingham are all hoping to extend existing light rail systems, while Manchester is planning to add a handful of new lines to the Metrolink system.

Birmingham is applying for two extensions to the Midland Metro, but hopes to add more lines in the future. A spokesman said, 'The city centre metro is our number one priority. We would like to see more metro lines throughout the urban area and this is just the start of the process.'

The first line of the Express Transit in Nottingham has already been paid for by the private sector, although the city's council will now be 'bidding vigorously, ' for Government funding to build extensions.

'We want a network of light rail' said a spokesman. 'The plan ties in with what the authority is doing to persuade people out of their cars.'

Newcastle, which already has a quayside transit system, has proposals to link the west end of the city to the metro network.

Light rail - up to 25 schemes = up to £3bn

Bristol/South Gloucestershire South Hampshire link from Fareham to Gosport and Portsmouth Leeds Supertram London: Docklands Light Railway - City Airport Extension, plus at least two other tram/guided bus schemes Manchester Metro Link Extension(s) Merseyside: 3km tram network Midland Metro: 2 plus new lines Nottingham Express Transit (further lines) Sheffield Supertram (extensions) Tyne and Wear Metro (track dualling and two new stations), plus tram extensions to the service

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