Oral Answers to Questions — Transport. House of Commons debates. Tuesday, 24 May 2005

May 24, 2005 12:00 AM
By Paul Rowen MP
Metrolink - When will it finally arrive in Manchester

Metrolink - When will it come to Rochdale?

Paul Rowen (Rochdale, LDem)

Is the Minister aware that there are speed restrictions on the Rochdale-Oldham line, that £2 million has had to be spent on emergency repairs, and that to make it fully operational will cost up to £60 million? Does he agree that the money would be better spent on the Metrolink line?

Alistair Darling (Secretary of State, Department for Transport)

I am aware that that line needs attention; exactly how much remains to be seen. In my experience of railway finances, whenever anyone looks at a problem, they think of a very large number, double it and then add another few million to be going on with. It may not cost as much as people think.

In relation to the Manchester metro generally, the hon. Gentleman, being new to the House, has probably not had the chance to read the interesting debates in Hansard that we have had on the subject. The basic problem with that light-rail scheme and others is that the cost has gone up and up, and we needed to get control of those costs. In Manchester, the cost went from £200 million to £500 million to perhaps as much as £900 million to build the three lines. Clearly, no Government could accept that. We needed to work with Manchester and the promoters of other schemes, which we are doing. When we build infrastructure, it is important to ensure that we have proper control of costs so that we get the maximum benefit out of it.