CONSTRUCTION of a new Metrolink tramline to Bolton could start in 2022 transport secretary Grant Shapps said today.
The Cabinet minister said on a visit to the town that work on drawing up the details of the cost and route would start early next year if the Conservative were re-elected on December 12.
He said the party was ‘absolutely’ committed to the project and he would be ‘disappointed’ if Greater Manchester Metro-Mayor Andy Burnham did not support it.
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In an interview with The Bolton News in Newport Street near the town’s public transport interchange, Mr Shapps said the town deserved to be properly connected to its big city neighbour.
He said the line could be built on a mix of existing railway tracks and new ones using cash from the government’s new £4.2billion Local Public Transport Fund
Mr Shapps said: “If we’re elected next week we might have Christmas off and we’ll then start working straight away.
“I think we’ve mentioned 2022 to start construction
“What you’ve got to do is get the bids in, got to make sure it all kind of stacks up, and then you actually start progressing with work on the ground.
“What I’d like to do if we are re-elected as an early priority is start to get the details and ask the civil service to work the specifics of the scheme up and then it will take a couple of years to get everything in order and the ball rolling in terms of money coming through.
“These kind of size projects take time to happen obviously.
“If we are elected it will absolutely, absolutely happen.
“Obviously I’ve come to Bolton because it’s a good example in Greater Manchester of an area in which people say ‘Why don’t have Metrolink into town?’.
“The question is ‘Is there funding for it?’. Here’s a fund for it.
“The main bulk of the funding would be provided by the government from the £4.2bn.”
Asked if it would be on existing or reopened railway track of new ones, Mr Shapps said: “It could be bit of both and I don’t know the answer. That’s one of the many things which needs to be looked into.”
He said: “I should be disappointed if Mayor Andy Burnham didn’t think connecting up places like Bolton were a good idea for Manchester city and for the towns around. I think it’s really important to have that connectivity so I fully expect him to support it.
“Bolton feels like a town that’s coming up. It’s got to be connected and it needs to be connected to the city as well. We’re really keen to see it happen and we responsibly earmarked the funding for it.”
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