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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 July, 2004, 05:54 GMT 06:54 UK
Anger after Metro expansion axed
Metrolink tram
Three new routes were planned in Greater Manchester
A decision by the government to axe the expansion of the Metrolink in Greater Manchester has sparked fury.

The planned routes to the likes of Oldham and Manchester Airport were withdrawn on Tuesday despite the fact 200m has already been spent.

Transport secretary Alistair Darling said it is too expensive, and the government is not accountable for that.

Politicians and transport bosses from the region have pledged to lobby the government to get it back on track.

Homes, schools and offices have already been demolished to make way for the route expansion.

A tram stop has also been built at the airport in preparation for the now axed work.

'Pivotal role'

In a statement on Tuesday Manchester City Council branded the decision as a "major blow".

The joint statement by council leader Richard Leese, chair of the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive (GMPTE), Councillor Roger Jones, and Lord Peter Smith, leader of the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA).

It said the announcement "fundamentally fails to recognise the inherent success of Metrolink to date."

"The decision is all the more disappointing at a time when there is increasing evidence that other departments of state are recognising the pivotal role this city region should play in the economic revival of the northern regions, to counterbalance the growth and development of London and the South East."

Traffic 'nightmare'

Graham Stringer, Labour MP for Manchester Blackley, said the decision would be met with "anger and disappointment" by residents.

"To stop the scheme at this stage I find, and I am sure virtually everyone in Greater Manchester will find, unacceptable," he said.

Adrian Smith, 24, who commutes daily in to Manchester from Oldham, said he had been looking forward to using the link.

"The traffic from Oldham to Manchester is a nightmare.

"With a local Labour MP (Michael Meacher) and a Labour government supposedly keen on public transport, it never occurred to me that the scheme would be scrapped."

Government scraps trams extension
20 Jul 04  |  Manchester
Calls for central tram route
11 Mar 03  |  England
Tram drivers on strike
17 Jan 04  |  Manchester

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