Labour have said that they will back extensions of Nottingham Express Transit from Phoenix Park to Kimberley and Toton Lane to East Midlands Airport if they win the next – as yet unscheduled – general election. This pledge was made by Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald during a visit to Nottingham although he declined to say how it would be funded or even what costs may be involved in the project.
Extension of Nottingham Express Transit have often been discussed – even before phase two was given the go-ahead – and it would appear that the two lines mentioned, to Kimberley and East Midlands Airport, are currently at the forefront of consideration, although it has to be said there is a long way to go before anything even gets anywhere close to the drawing board and approval.
Andy McDonald praised the success of Nottingham Express Transit during his visit: “Nottingham’s tram is a great example of what can be achieved in a city on this scale. But there is yet further potential that we could do, and there are plans to look at extensions to the system, so that’s a really exciting prospect, because we need to capitalise on the success that’s already there. We’ve already got that infrastructure there. It’s already established it’s a case of getting greater benefits by expanding that.”
When pressed upon costs Mr McDonald is quoted in the Nottingham Post: “Frankly the cost of this whole system is surprisingly economical and under control. I’m really quite impressed by the cost. The challenge for this sector is to bring those costs down and there is already a consultation underway about where further tram networks can be expanded. But we are talking about hundreds of millions for certain stretches, which I think represents an excellent return.”
In responses a spokeswoman at the Department for Transport said: “Passengers across Derby and Nottingham are benefitting from new technology, including real-time travel information and a roll out of smart ticketing, thanks to £7 million from our Transforming Cities Fund. We are also working with both councils to develop plans for a share of the second £1.22 billion round of the fund, supporting larger improvements to public and sustainable transport in the city regions. We will consider proposals to fund additional tram schemes, based on value for money for the taxpayer and benefits for passengers and the wider community.”
In other words there is currently no commitment to extending NET and even if Labour do form the next government there is no guarantee the plans will be approved as it’s the age old issue of if every project politicians back ahead of a general election there wouldn’t be enough money to go around!