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Manchester Metrolink (Extensions)

Volume 511: debated on Thursday 17 June 2010

11. What assessment he has made of the merits of the 3a and 3b extensions to the Manchester Metrolink; and if he will make a statement. (2720)

Phases 3a and 3b of the Manchester Metrolink were approved for funding by the previous Government. Construction of phase 3a is under way. Phase 3b has been re-examined following the announcement by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 17 May of a review of spending approval granted since 1 January this year.

With regard to the phase 3b contract for the Ashton-under-Lyne extension, it is important to note that substantial amounts of public funding have already been spent on the route, and significant advance works to provide dedicated strengthened central reserves and bridges have now been completed. Studies show that the East Manchester line will be commercially viable only if it goes all the way through to Ashton. Will the Minister confirm that all those issues will be factored into the review and that they will be carefully considered before a decision is made?

The hon. Gentleman makes a number of pertinent points, and I understand the thrust of his argument and the strength of his case. I cannot give him a specific assurance at this precise moment, but I suggest that he will be interested to hear the statement that is shortly to be made from the Treasury Bench.