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Once in a lifetime opportunity says Paul Rowen

June 12, 2008 12:00 AM

Paul Rowen MP - Backing Rochdale's TIF bidRochdale MP and Chairman of the Parliamentary Group on Light Rail, Paul Rowen has hailed the Transport Innovation Fund Bid as a 'once in a lifetime opportunity'. Mr Rowen was speaking after the decision by Ruth Kelly, the Secretary of State for Transport to approve the bid.

Mr Rowen said: "This bid is hugely exciting for our Borough but has split politicians. For example, the Labour Group on the Council is against the bid, but the Parliamentary spokesperson is for it. We must though use the next few weeks to have a debate on the benefits of the bid and stick to the facts. This includes the massive investment that will lead to the completion of Metrolink into our Town Centre, the improvements to Railway Stations like Smithybridge and Castleton, the extra 300 parking spaces at Rochdale Railway Station, modernising the booking office and improving the CCTV, dramatically improving our bus services and much, much more.

We need to look at the facts though like the fact that any congestion charge will only be at peak times. This is London-style transport funding and means unprecedented investment in our buses, trams and trains. It will improve services across the board and the peak-only charge in my view is a price worth paying. People also need to be aware that any charges will NOT be implemented until the majority of these transport improvements are carried out. I hope that this debate can be sensible and that anyone currently opposed looks very seriously at the benefits for Rochdale. I will be producing my own fact sheet that details the benefits for Rochdale and looks at congestion charging and any effects on Rochdale."

Rochdale Transport spokesman, Councillor Zulfiqar Ali said: "This bid is designed to cut congestion and get people out of their cars. The fact is that people currently have no alternative but to get into their cars. This is a wholesale improvement of public transport. It is the best package offered ever offered and is decades of investment - all in one go. Congestion charging will not be introduced until the summer of 2013. That leaves us years to make these exiting improvements to our transport system. I will be working on the Transport Authority to ensure we get the best for our Borough!"

FACTS ABOUT THE BID:

  • Funding package of up to £3bn, including £1.5bn government grants, £1.2bn of loan paid back through a congestion charge, £100m of third-party funding and government money for extra rail carriages.
  • Money comes on top of about £600m for the first phase of the Metrolink tram network extension
  • Money will pay for a package of public transport improvements
  • Completion of the "Big Bang" Metrolink tram extension, with lines to Rochdale and Oldham town centres.
  • 120 extra yellow buses for schools.
  • Bus feeder services to rail and Metrolink stations.
  • Increase in bus services across the Borough.
  • Eight new transport interchanges.
  • Increased rail capacity for 7,000 extra passengers at peak times.
  • Double the amount of park and ride facilities.
  • Real time electronic information at all major bus, rail and tram stations.
  • A new travel "smartcard" which can be used across different forms of transport owned by different companies.
  • Charge not introduced until summer 2013.
  • Will be capped at £5 a day at 2007 prices, estimated to be £6 a day in 2013.
  • Fewer than 20 per cent of drivers expected to pay a charge at all.
  • Charge based on two "rings" - first just inside the M60 and the second roughly around the inner ring road.
  • Motorists will use a "tag and beacon" system, with pre-paid electronic tags.
  • Charges apply Monday to Friday, from 7am-9.30am towards the city centre, and from 4pm-6.30pm outwards.
  • Drivers will pay £2 (at 2007 prices) for crossing the outer ring in the morning, and a further £1 for crossing the inner ring.
  • Outward peak-time journeys will cost £1 for passing the inner ring and £1 for passing the outer ring.
  • No charges at other times, or at weekends or on Bank Holidays.