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Last Updated: Monday, 20 February 2006, 18:01 GMT
Fight for troubled tram abandoned
Artist's impression of Merseytram
The tram aimed to be running for the Capital of Culture celebrations
Transport executives in Merseyside have abandoned their legal fight to get a troubled tram scheme back on track.

Merseytravel, the passenger transport authority, planned to go to the Court of Appeal over a government decision to pull funding for Merseytram.

But at a meeting on Monday, the appeal was "reluctantly" abandoned.

Merseytravel said it still planned to include the tram scheme in the Local Transport Plan for 2006 to 2011, which will be submitted to the government.

Councillor Mark Dowd, chairman of Merseytravel, said: "We've reluctantly decided not to pursue the appeal although our lawyers tell us we have a properly arguable case.

"It is simply a question of timing.

Artist's impression of Merseytram
A court ruled the government acted legally in stopping funding

"We have been told that we could not get a hearing in the Court of Appeal before the end of February, which means it would be impossible to meet the timescales for Merseytram Line One.

"We still believe in Merseytram, it is a positive scheme which could bring huge benefits to Merseyside and that is why it remains in the Local Transport Plan."

The plan will be put before the Department of Transport on 31 March.

Transport Secretary Alistair Darling withdrew the 170m funding in November, saying local councils needed to guarantee to cover cost overruns.

Merseytravel took up a legal battle, but High Court in London ruled earlier this month that Mr Darling had acted legally.

Capital of Culture

Merseytravel had said at the time that its now abandoned Court of Appeal case was "the last throw of the dice".

The tram line from Kirkby to Liverpool was intended to open in 2008 in time for Liverpool's Capital of Culture celebrations.

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

Liverpool and Knowsley councils agreed to guarantee up to 24m to cover any overrun, but refused to offer an unlimited guarantee.

Troubled tram bosses 'fight on'
02 Feb 06 |  Merseyside
Troubled tram scheme 'in ruins'
01 Feb 06 |  Merseyside
Tram scheme battle taken to court
21 Dec 05 |  Merseyside
Legal threat after tram plan axed
05 Dec 05 |  Merseyside

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