Grand plan to bring tram system to Chester


Published date: 24 January 2011 | Published by: Laura Jones

MAJOR plans to extend a tram network from Manchester to Chester will be presented to the government tomorrow.

Think tank Trams UK will recommend at the House of Commons that the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive (GMPTE) light rail system, the Manchester Metrolink, should reach all the way to the city.

Manchester Metrolink Bombardier M500 Flexity Swift

The organisation hope that the government will give the green light to local plans to extend the light rail network throughout Cheshire and Warrington, creating a web to link between businesses and residents.

The Leader announced on Thursday that Cheshire East Council had aspirations for light rail links, which were supported by Cheshire West and Chester Council.
The light rails, which are different to trams, can run across both light rail and existing heavy rail lines and are powered by and also generate electricity.

James Harkins, managing director of Light Rail UK, said that the ai???greener more efficientai??? mode of transport would be of ai???huge benefitai??? to both the environment and peopleai??i??s pockets.

He added that light rail would cut the fastest train time from Manchester to Chester from an hour an seven minutes on Northern Rail, by about 10 minutes.

Mr Harkins said: ai???It is a lot greener than heavy rail and it certainly ticks all the boxes environmentally. The prices depend on policy set by the operator and the local authority. But like tram and light rail systems across Europe, passengers can have one card to use across all networks. In theory it should be a lot cheaper and quicker.”

The proposals have been backed by the All Party Parliamentary Light Rail Group, who aim to push for sustainable transport.

In the House of Commons tomorrow, MPs who help to form the group will give their representations on the plans, which have been created after a study by think tank UK trams.

Mr Harkins said: ai???The main aim is to target car users who travel between the areas. We hope that by putting in a light rail network we can get about 30 to 35 per cent of people out of their cars. We are not competing with heavy rail trains, we see it as a service enhancement.”

If given the go-ahead a light rail system could be implemented across western Cheshire and run as far as Daresbury, St Helens, Stockport and Warrington.

Like other parts of the network, the trams would run on a railway line between Altrincham and Chester.

Outline plans to transform the Runcorn Bus Way into a light rail line, running over a double deck underneath the Runcorn Bridge across the Mersey, will also be presented.

Following in the footsteps of European cities such as Vienna, Stockholm and Dresden, the system could eventually be used for cargo trams.

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