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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 December 2005, 14:55 GMT
Tram scheme battle taken to court
Artist's impression of Merseytram
Merseytravel say the scheme's planning has cost 50m to date
Merseytravel has won the right to challenge the government's decision not to fund its proposed tram scheme.

The decision means the passenger transport authority can now present its case in detail to a High Court judge to see if the decision can be quashed.

The government withdrew its promised 170m funding last month.

Mark Dowd, Merseytravel chairman, said Wednesday's decision, taken by a High Court judge in London, was "a major step forward".

Transport Minister Derek Twigg said last month the money would not be released because local councils had not agreed to fund any shortfall.

Merseytravel will present its case in detail to a High Court judge at hearing at the end of next month.

Artist's impression of Merseytram
The Merseytram was intended to open by 2008
The Department for Transport will have the opportunity to present their evidence as to why the decision should stand.

Mr Dowd said: "This is a major step forward in our fight to release the 170m for this vital regeneration scheme.

"I am delighted we have now got a real opportunity to present our case in a courtroom."

If the Secretary of State for Transport's decision cannot be quashed, Merseytravel is seeking damages compensating for the costs invested in the scheme to date.

They say they have reached a level of about 50m since the project started in 1999.

It was hoped that the first tram line from Liverpool city centre to Kirkby would be on track for Liverpool's year as European Capital of Culture in 2008.

Two further routes to Whiston Hospital and Liverpool John Lennon Airport were to follow.




SEE ALSO:
Merseytram legal action launched
17 Dec 05 |  Merseyside
Legal threat after tram plan axed
05 Dec 05 |  Merseyside
Merseyside tram system plan axed
29 Nov 05 |  Merseyside
Government delays cash for trams
17 Nov 05 |  Merseyside
Councils agree to underwrite tram
04 Nov 05 |  Merseyside


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