Leeds Supertram

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Leeds Supertram
noframe
Supertram turns right onto Cookridge Street
Project
Begun February 1991
Ended November 2005
Promoters Metro and Leeds City Council
Routes
Line 1 City centre to Stourton and Tingley
Line 2 City centre to Bodington
Line 3 City centre to Grime's Dyke
Route Map
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Leeds Supertram was a £500 million tram scheme proposal for Leeds. Its promoters were the West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Authority (Metro) and Leeds City Council.

Original Scheme

The Supertram project resulted from the Leeds Transport Strategy published in 1991. The strategy was produced by Leeds City Council and Metro. In the same year, the Leeds Supertram Bill was lodged in parliament. The subsequent Leeds Supertram Act 1993 gave parliamentary powers to allow the scheme to proceed. It was for a single 12km route to run from Cookridge Street in the city centre to a park and ride at Tingley and included a branch from Hunslet to a park and ride at Stourton. 70% of the route was to have been segregated from other traffic. The estimated run time was 23 minutes to Tingley and 12 minutes to Stourton. The estimated cost of £95 million was to be met by funding from three sources: a public sector grant under section 56 of the Transport Act 1956; revenue contributions from the scheme; and other direct funding including developer contributions and sponsorship.[1] Leeds City Council claimed that the scheme would open up south Leeds and could create additional development worth £400 million.[2]

Revised Scheme

By March 1995, public consultation was under way for an additional route to Headingley, and plans were being made for a city centre loop and an East Leeds route.[1] Proposals were put forward to add additional routes from the city centre north to a park and ride at Bodington and east to a park and ride at Grime's Dyke at Seacroft. These proposals were subject to a public inquiry which began on the 18th March 1997. The inquiry was conducted by planning inspector Sir Norman King and took place at Leeds Town Hall. At the same time, the inspector conducted a separate inquiry which considered 10 listed building and 15 conservation area consents that were required in connection with the proposed extension to Bodington. In his report, the inspector recommended that the extension order should be made and that planning permission should be deemed to be granted. He also recommended that the listed building and conservation area consents should be granted.

By July 1998, the powers of compulsory purchase conferred by the 1993 Leeds Supertram Act had expired. By this time, the laws which governed such projects had changed. For the scheme to proceed, an order under the Transport and Works Act (TWA) 1992 would be required. In June 1998 Metro and the council applied to the Secretary of State for an order to confer fresh powers of compulsory purchase ('the Land Acquisition Order’). They also sought powers to realign Chadwick Street and Waterloo Street in connection with the works authorised by the 1993 Act. The application also included a request for powers to construct two additional routes, a northern route to Bodington and an eastern route to Seacroft ('the extension order'). In addition the route through the city centre was to be revised to run along Duncan Street, Call Lane and New York Street forming a City Centre Loop.

In December 2000, the secretary of state made both orders and granted the related deemed planning permission and listed building and conservation area consents in respect of the extension order. As the extension order authorised the compulsory purchase of open space, for which no land was to be given in exchange, under section 12 of the TWA, the order would be subject to special parliamentary procedures and laid before parliament. The order would only come into force if parliament was satisfied that it was acceptable for the open space to be acquired without replacement.

On the 28 March 2001, John Prescott announced that the government had awarded funding. It would provide 75 per cent of the cost with the remaining 25 per cent being provided by Leeds City Council, Metro and the concessionaire. The award of funding assumed that the legal procedures on planning and compulsory purchase of land would be completed satisfactorily. Parliamentary approval would be required as the scheme required the appropriation of open space and no replacement land was being offered.

The revised scheme was for a 28km network along three routes and included a city centre loop. 75% of the routes were to be segregated from other traffic. Four large park-and-rides were planned, with 3,000 car parking spaces at Stourton, and 500 each at Tingley, Lawnswood and Grime's Dyke. Around 40 articulated trams, each carrying up to 200 passengers, would have been needed. There would have been around 50 tram stops with level boarding at each.[3] The system was predicted to carry 22 million people per year, 25% of whom were expected to be former car users. The estimated run times from the city centre were 14.9 minutes to Stourton, 25 minutes to Tingley, 21.5 minutes to Bodington and 27.5 minutes to Grime's Dyke. It was estimated that the scheme would be completed in 2007. In 2003, preparatory work began at City Square, and at the junction of Hunslet Road and South Accommodation Road. The main work was due to begin in 2004. The scheme involved the demolition of numerous properties [4] and the northern route wasn't popular with people living along the route.[5]

Cancellation

The revised scheme was originally to have cost £487m. But by 2004 the estimated cost had risen to nearly £1 billion.[6] [7] [8] In July 2004, the government rejected the proposals as too expensive. In November 2004 it was announced that the proposed network would be reduced from 28km to 21km by postponing the route to Tingley. In addition, the promoters would take on some of the scheme's risk. These measures brought the cost down by almost £1/4 billion so that the government’s contribution would be no more than the originally agreed £355m. The scheme was relaunched with the slogan “Supertram, it adds up for Leeds.” During the Leeds Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner in January 2005, a giant image of Supertram was beamed onto the front of the Queens Hotel.[9] In February 2005, Metro’s director-general Kieran Preston warned the council that the scheme could collapse "in the next few weeks” as the council’s compulsory purchase powers were due to expire. In March 2005, the Leeds Supertram team met transport minister Tony McNulty to press for a decision before the council's compulsory purchase powers expired. But on the 3rd November 2005, the Transport Secretary Alistair Darling made a final decision to withdraw funding.[10] [11] The scheme had cost £39m.[12] Its cancellation provoked widespread outrage,[13] particularly as Manchester's Phase 3 Metrolink extension was given funding approval in the Summer of 2006.[14] Leader of Leeds City Council, Councillor Mark Harris said, "The Government should be ashamed of their cynical attempt to mislead the public over Supertram." [15] MP Greg Mulholland claimed that the rejection was so that the government could spend more money on the 2012 Olympics.[16] On the 30th November 2005, during a parliamentary debate, transport minister Derek Twigg said, "With the Manchester Metrolink phase 3 extensions, the public sector funding requirement almost tripled between our first approval in 2000 and the end of 2004. For the scheme in south Hampshire there was a 50 per cent increase, and for the Leeds supertram and Merseytram, the public sector cost increased by 40 per cent." [17] Apart from Manchester's Metrolink, all of these schemes had their funding withheld and had to be cancelled.

What Went Wrong

Supertram Costs.jpg

The Government’s preferred method for procuring light rail schemes was by means of PFI/PPP consortium bids.[18] These are attractive to the private sector in areas such as prisons, hospitals and schools, where there is no revenue risk. But with light rail schemes, tenderers have very little control over risks such as utilities relocation, ridership and long-term maintenance. Where promoters require tenderers to take full revenue risk, tenderers compensate for this by inflating the price they quote for undertaking the scheme. A higher tendered price makes the scheme appear poor value for money.[19] One of the main reasons for the higher than expected cost of Supertram and similar new schemes was the Government’s preference for a form of PFI under which a single consortium finances, designs, builds, maintains and operates a light rail scheme under a thirty year contract. This form of PFI was intended to transfer the risks associated with a light rail scheme to the private sector. These risks include the effect on revenue of aggressive competition from bus operators or changes in labour costs or of private motoring.[20] The promoters of Supertram allocated all the risk to the private sector.[21] As a consequence, the bids submitted were very high. Tenderers had learnt from earlier light rail schemes that high bids were necessary to cover them for the increased costs that would result from them bearing all the risks.

In March 2001, the estimated cost of the scheme was £487 million. At that time the government agreed a public sector funding cap of £355 million, with £266 million (75% of the £355 million cap) being provided by the government. But in October 2002, unexpectedly high bids from the two remaining consortia Airelink and Momentis increased the scheme's estimated cost to almost £1 billion.[6] [7] [8] These bids were double the original consultants' estimate of £487 million. Airelink comprised the bus company Arriva, Siemens, Amec and Transdev. Momentis comprised the bus company First, Bombardier, Bouygues and Jarvis.[3]

When the government withdrew its funding offer in July 2004, it said that it was because of its concern about the scheme's increased cost. According to the National Audit Office, in November 2004, Metro and the council concluded that the costs of Leeds scheme were higher than similar schemes because of higher land prices and because Supertram had more off-street running than other schemes and passed through environmentally-sensitive areas.[22] Instead of reducing these higher than usual costs by postponing the costly northern route (which required a Headingley bypass), Metro decided to reduce costs by postponing the branch to Stourton and by taking on some of the risks itself. But this still allowed the government to withhold funding as it was able to say that it had agreed a fixed sum to fund a larger scheme, and that a reduced scheme for the same money didn't represent value for money.

Within a few minutes of Transport Secretary Alistair Darling's announcement to Parliament in July 2004 that funding would be withheld from the Leeds and South Hampshire Supertram schemes, saving the government about £390 million, he made the following further announcement, "Transport will be crucial to a successful British bid for the 2012 Olympics. The Mayor guarantees to fund and provide a package of transport improvements that will underpin the bid and provide lasting benefits for London. Details will be available in due course, but I can announce that it will be supported by additional Government funding of £340 million, above existing plans, and Transport for London's prudential borrowing plans of a further £2.9 billion for the period up to 2009—10, which the Government support." [23]

Following the withdrawal of funding for Supertram, contractors blamed poor cost consultancy for the decision. One disgruntled estimator said: "The concern lies in the original pricing of projects. Those who advise the client on price have no experience of delivering such a scheme and little knowledge as to what the real cost will be. The price is underplayed to a figure well off what is realistic." [24]

In November 2005, when Alistair Darling made his final refusal to fund Supertram, he claimed that it would cost £1.3 billion. This figure was arrived at by adding future interest charges to the initial cost. This was possibly an attempt to make the case against Supertram on costs seem more overwhelming than it actually was. Interestingly, no attempt was made to inflate the cost of the Manchester Metrolink Phase 3 scheme by including future interest charge. This scheme was later re-instated.

In January 2006, the National Audit Office was asked by Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland, Liberal Democrat transport spokesman Tom Brake and Alan Haigh of Transport 2000 (now known as the Campaign for Better Transport) to examine whether public funds had been spent appropriately by Ministers.[25] A report published the National Audit Office attached no blame to the government.[22] However an earlier unpublished draft report is thought to be highly critical of the government's handling of the Supertram project. The National Audit Office refused to release the draft report.

Whilst the scheme was ostensibly cancelled because of the increased cost of the scheme, the decision in July 2004 to withhold funding came just three months after the publication of a National Audit Office report that was highly critical of existing UK light rail schemes.[26]

Documents obtained by the Yorkshire Evening Post in March 2006 under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that one of Mr Darling's key advisors gave him a positive report on the Supertram plans in May 2005. The head of the transport department's major projects and economics (MPE) policy division told him: "Our current assessment is that the scheme would offer high value for money." [27] Despite this, in November 2005 when Mr Darling finally refused to fund the scheme, he told parliament that the scheme did not represent the "best value for money for the people of Leeds." The head of the MPE division also told Mr Darling that a light rail network would do more to regenerate deprived parts of Leeds than even the most up-to-date buses. And yet Mr Darling told Leeds and Metro to go away and develop a "top of the range bus system." [22] [10]

Documents obtained by the Yorkshire Post in January 2007 revealed Department for Transport officials classed both the Manchester Metrolink extension and Supertram as "high value for money" and considered there was little difference between the two.[28]

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What Might Have Been

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What Next

When Transport Secretary Alistair Darling recommended that Leeds should pursue a high quality bus scheme, he was relying on the WS Atkins report which his department had commissioned. In so doing, Mr Darling ignored evidence that had been published in April 2005 by the House of Commons Transport Committee that light rail is far more effective than buses in achieving a model shift from cars, and that the costs of light rail and bus schemes is much closer than assumed owing to the cost of the infrastructure required by buses usually being overlooked.

The subsequent award of funding to Manchester for its Phase 3 Metrolink extension raised the question, "If light rail is necessary for Manchester, why are buses alright for Leeds?”

Timetable

Timetable of events from the start to the finish of the Leeds Supertram project
February 1991 Publication of “A Transport Strategy for Leeds." The Supertram project formed part of this. The scheme was for a single 12km route to run from Cookridge Street in the city centre to a park and ride at Tingley and included a branch from Hunslet to a park and ride at Stourton. 70% of the route was to have been segregated from other traffic. The estimated run time was 23 minutes to Tingley and 12 minutes to Stourton. The estimated cost of £95 million was to be met by funding from three sources: a public sector grant under section 56 of the Transport Act 1956; revenue contributions from the scheme; and other direct funding including developer contributions and sponsorship.[1]
July 1993 The Leeds Supertram Act 1993 was passed on the 27th July 1993,[29]
December 1994 The £95 million first stage of Supertram was opened to pre-qualifying bids. Metro said it was looking for a consortium willing to pay a 'significant' sum for the operating rights as part of a design-build-operate-maintain (DBOM) contract. Pre-qualifiers would be invited to tender in summer 1995.[30]
January 1995 Seven consortia pre-qualified for the £95 million South Leeds Supertram project, the first of the series of light railways planned for Leeds.[1]
March 1995 By March 1995, public consultation was under way for an additional route to Headingley. Plans were also being made for a city centre loop and an East Leeds route.[1]
October 1995 Tramtrack, a consortium of Sir Robert McAlpine, Bombardier Eurorail and Serco, appeared to be ahead in the race to land the South Leeds Supertram project.[31]
January 1996 Metro expected to appoint a contractor in March 1996 to carry out a design, build, operate and maintain contract to install the south Leeds Supertram line.[32]
September 1996 The government announced that a public inquiry would be held early in 1997 into the £165 million plans to extend Supertram to the north and east of Leeds.[33]
March 1997 Proposals to add additional routes from the city centre north to a park and ride at Bodington and east to a park and ride at Grime's Dyke at Seacroft were subject to a public inquiry which began on the 18th March 1997. The inquiry was conducted by planning inspector Sir Norman King and took place at Leeds Town Hall. At the same time, the inspector conducted a separate inquiry which considered 10 listed building and 15 conservation area consents that were required in connection with the proposed extension to Bodington. In his report, the inspector recommended that the extension order should be made and that planning permission should be deemed to be granted. He also recommended that the listed building and conservation area consents should be granted.
May 1997 The Eurotrans consortium (Morrison, Christiani & Nielsen, British Bus and Vevey) was appointed to design, build, operate and maintain the £130 million Line 1 from Stourton to the city centre.[34]
June 1998 By July 1998, the powers of compulsory purchase conferred by the 1993 Leeds Supertram Act had expired. By this time, the laws which governed such projects had changed. For the scheme to proceed, an order under the Transport and Works Act (TWA) 1992 would be required. In June 1998 Metro and the council applied to the Secretary of State for an order to confer fresh powers of compulsory purchase ('the Land Acquisition Order’). They also sought powers to realign Chadwick Street and Waterloo Street in connection with the works authorised by the 1993 Act. The application also included a request for powers to construct two additional routes, a northern route to Bodington and an eastern route to Seacroft ('the extension order'). In addition the route through the city centre was to be revised to run along Duncan Street, Call Lane and New York Street forming a City Centre Loop.
September 2000 The promoters submitted an Outline Business Case for the revised Supertram scheme to the Department for the Environment, Transport and the Regions. It would be a 28km long three-line light rail system with a city centre loop. There would be 49 tram stops and four park and ride sites. It was forecast to carry 22 million passengers per year, 25% of whom were expected to be former car users, thus saving 5.7 million trips by car. The estimated run times from the city centre were 14.9 minutes to Stourton, 25 minutes to Tingley, 21.5 minutes to Bodington and 27.5 minutes to Grime's Dyke. It was estimated that the scheme would be completed in 2007.
December 2000 In the 20th December 2000, the secretary of state made two TWA orders granting the related deemed planning permission and listed building and conservation area consents in respect of the extension order.[35] [36] As the extension order authorised the compulsory purchase of open space, for which no land was to be given in exchange, under section 12 of the TWA, the order would be subject to special parliamentary procedures and laid before parliament. The order would only come into force if parliament was satisfied that it was acceptable for the open space to be acquired without replacement.
March 2001 The estimated total cost of the revised scheme was £487 million.[37] The Department concluded that the proposal was robust and offered value for money and agreed to provide funding for the scheme. It noted that the required level of funding would not be known until the tendering process had been completed, but set a cap on total public sector funding of £355 million. The Department agreed to contribute 75 per cent (£266 million) of the £355 million with the remainder being funded from local sources. The terms of the funding agreement stated that should this cap be exceeded the Department and Treasury would need to consider all available options, including whether the scheme should continue as planned.[22] On the 28th March 2001, the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, John Prescott announced that funding had been approved. The decision was part of the government's Transport 2010 strategy which planned to spend £180 billion on new roads, tram systems and rail improvements between 2000 and 2010, and which promised to create 25 light rail schemes across the country.[38]
April 2001 Metro planned to advertise contracts for the Public-Private Partnership deal in the Official Journal in July 2001. It hoped to have a preferred bidder on board by January 2003, with construction work beginning in the Summer of 2004.[39]
June 2001 Almost 100 companies attended an open day at the Leeds Marriott Hotel for companies which had expressed an interest in tendering to build and run Supertram.[40]
August 2001 Mick Martin was appointed Leeds Supertram Project Director and announced that the teams were in place who would oversee the detailed planning and construction phase of the scheme. The companies involved were:
  • Turner & Townsend Project Management - Project & Cost Management
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers - Financial Advisers
  • Babtie Group Ltd - Utilities Advisers
  • Maunsell Ltd - Engineering and Operations Advisers
  • Dibb Lupton Alsop (DLA) - Legal Advisers
  • Steer Davies Gleave - Economic Advisers

Mr Martin took up his post on the 3rd September 2001.[40]

November 2001 Contracts for the £500 million Leeds Supertram project were advertised in the Official Journal at the end of the month.[41].
January 2002 Concern was expressed that not enough firms would have the resources to carry out the £500 million scheme. Leeds Supertram project manager David Simmons, from Turner & Townsend, admitted: "This type of work does tie up resources and a lot are tied up already. We are just going to have to wait and see.” At this point, companies only had another eight days to prequalify for the Supertram Public-Private Partnership deal, which was one of a number of light rail projects due to get under way in 2003.[42] Despite this concern, about 50 firms expressed an interest in bidding for the contract to build and operate Supertram.[43]
March 2002 The promoters selected four consortia to bid following the pre-qualification process. The shortlisted consortia were Airelink, Leeds Tram Link, Leeds Tramways and Momentis. Airelink included AWG Project Investments, and Leeds Tram Link included Amey and Bechtel. Mowlem and Atkins were in the Leeds Tramways team, with Bouygues and Jarvis in Momentis.[44] [45]
May 2002 Mowlem pulled out in May 2002 blaming skills shortages.[46] The decision forced the Leeds Tramways consortium, which also included Stagecoach and WS Atkins, to also drop out. According to the 24th July 2003 edition of Construction News, the real reason that Mowlem dropped out was due to concerns about the project's viability.[47]
August 2002 The two remaining bidders for the £500 million Leeds Supertram project were expected to return bids in late October 2002.[48]
October 2002 The Leeds Tramlink consortium, which included, Amey, MTR and Egis Semaly, pulled out after failing to get assurances that its bid costs would be reimbursed if it failed to win.[49] Airelink and Momentis submitted bids.[50] Airelink comprised Arriva, Siemens, Amec and Transdev. Momentis comprised First, Bombardier, Bouygues and Jarvis.[3] Both bids required public sector support in excess of the maximum £355 million agreed. The bids were for a contract to Design, Build, Operate and Maintain Supertram (a DBOM contract). This was the type of contract advised by HM Treasury and Partnerships UK. Subsequently, the promoters spent several months working with the bidding consortia to attempt to bring costs down.[22] As a result of the bids, the scheme's estimated cost doubled to almost £1 billion.[6] [7] [8]
March 2003 The promoters updated the Department for Transport on its progress, setting out the reasons for the cost increase, arguing that the scheme still offered value for money and asking the Department to increase its funding contribution to £494 million to go towards a revised public sector funding requirement of £658 million (an 85 per cent increase on the original £355 million cap).[22] [51] Meanwhile on the 10th March 2003, preparatory work began at City Square, and at the junction of Hunslet Road and South Accommodation Road. The main work was due to begin in 2004.[52]
May 2003 As a result of concerns that the scheme's estimated cost had increased to £1 billion, the scheme's promoters met Transport Secretary Alistair Darling.[8] The Department informed the promoters that the cost increases were not affordable, and asked the promoters to look at how a light rail scheme, or an alternative transport solution, could be delivered within the original public sector funding limit of £355 million. Over the coming months the promoters and the Department identified ways of reducing costs on the Supertram scheme, such as the deferral of part of the southern branch. This would, however, have reduced the benefits of the scheme.[22]
January 2004 Despite the scheme's public sector funding requirement being brought down from £658 million to £551 million, the Department considered that funding approval should be withdrawn because:
  • The estimated public sector funding requirement of the scheme was still almost £200 million above the approved funding cap of £355 million;
  • Agreeing to fund the scheme despite the increase would mean that other major transport schemes would be delayed or rejected; and
  • Other schemes offered better value for money.

Whilst the Department refused to ring-fence the original £355 million for Leeds because of uncertainties over future funding, it decided not to withdraw funding approval at this point but asked the promoters to continue exploring ways of bringing costs within the agreed £355 million cap and to conduct a further review of alternative transport options.[22]

February 2004 The promoters commissioned consultants and began a fundamental review of transport options for Leeds with support from the Department. By May, a shortlist of three options emerged: a shortened Supertram scheme; Bus Rapid Transit; and an improved conventional bus service.[22]
April 2004 A National Audit Office report was published which was highly critical of existing light rail schemes. Some of its criticisms were:
  • capital costs twice as high as similar schemes in the rest of EU
  • multiple objectives poorly framed, rarely achieved
  • patronage forecasts over optimistic
  • services operating at a loss
  • promoters overly reliant on consultants, with little real tramway experience
  • not enough in-house expertise to commission and control projects.

The Comptroller and Auditor General, Sir John Bourn concluded, "Light rail systems have improved the quality and choice of public transport, by offering fast, reliable and frequent services. Systems need to be better integrated with other modes of transport, however, to attract more passengers and help to reduce urban congestion. And if more systems are to secure private sector investment, construction costs must be brought down and operations placed on a sound financial footing.” [26]

May 2004 An article in the Guardian reported that billions of pounds of transport improvements including Supertram were stalled due to a cash crisis at the Department for Transport. The article said the problems began with the government's 10-Year Transport Plan in 2000 which promised a host of investments but had not worked out their cost. This was exacerbated by a big rise in costs - particularly on the railways, which were costing £6-7bn more than was expected when the plan was written.[53]
July 2004 The Department withdrew funding approval for the scheme because of the cost increase and suggested that the promoters continue to work on developing alternative proposals with the Department.[22] Following Transport Secretary Alistair Darling's decision to withdraw funding for Supertram, contractors blamed poor cost consultancy. One disgruntled estimator said: "The concern lies in the original pricing of projects. Those who advise the client on price have no experience of delivering such a scheme and little knowledge as to what the real cost will be. The price is underplayed to a figure well off what is realistic." [24]
November 2004 On Monday 15th November 2004, representatives of the city's commercial and civic sectors heard that Metro and the council had restructured the scheme's finances to fall close to the £355 million the Government pledged in 2001.[54] Subsequently, the promoters presented the Department with the results of the work they began in February. The promoters proposed to defer construction of the 7km southern stretch to Tingley and revised the allocation of risk to bring costs down. They benchmarked costs against other UK light rail schemes, concluding that costs in Leeds were higher because of higher land prices and because Supertram had more off-street running than other schemes and passed through environmentally-sensitive areas. They concluded that a shortened Supertram scheme remained the best option for Leeds, compared with the other main options of a Bus Rapid Transit scheme and a more conventional bus scheme. The promoters calculated that Supertram’s benefit cost ratio would be 2.2:1 to 1.8:1 for the Bus Rapid Transit. The cost to the public sector for the scheme was estimated at £392 million.[22] The cost of the scheme had been cut by £250 million[55] Meanwhile, members of the public accounts select committee criticised the Department for Transport's top mandarin David Rowland after the Government put three major light rail programmes on hold in the summer.[56]
February 2005 Following a review of the promoters' revised proposals, the Department concluded, initially in February and then in May, that the Bus Rapid Transit option offered a better solution, achievable at a lower cost than Supertram and with a higher benefit to cost ratio. It did not share these findings with the promoters until its review has been considered by Ministers.[22] In a leaked letter, Metro director general Kieran Preston warned that Supertram could fail if Government ministers do not give the go-ahead soon. The powers granted by Parliament to buy the land required for the 21 km scheme were due to expire in early 2006.[57] [58]
March 2005 The promoters met transport minister Tony McNulty to ask for a decision before compulsory purchase powers for the land needed for the project lapse.[58]
April 2005 Two House of Commons Select Committee reports on light rail were published.

The first report 'Integrated Transport: the Future of Light Rail and Modern Trams in the United Kingdom' was published by the Transport Committee on the 4th April 2005 and confirmed that new tram schemes have a part to play in the future of UK transport and that they can offer clean, high quality accessible transport.[59]

The second report 'Improving public transport in England through light rail' was published by the Public Accounts Committee on the 5th April 2005 and hit out at delays in the planning and approval process of tram schemes and claimed Government dithering was putting schemes in jeopardy. The all-party committee criticised the Department for Transport for failing to act when problems with the design and delivery of projects started and costs began to escalate. The report pointed the finger at the DfT's insistence that schemes be private-sector managed rather than local authority-led.[60] [61]

July 2005 Plans for the £350 million Leeds Supertram were examined when council representatives met transport minister Derek Twigg to discuss the scheme's future.[62] The Department asked the promoters to provide more detail on the funding of Supertram and to work with the Department to explore further the Bus Rapid Transit alternative. The Department appointed its own consultants, Atkins Transport Planning (Atkins), to lead this work.[22] [63] [64] Meanwhile, Alistair Darling prepared to pour £16 billion into London's Crossrail.[65]
October 2005 A source close to the Supertram team said: "It is clear the department just doesn't have the money. The Olympic bid has blown us out of the water." [66]
November 2005 Atkins presented its findings to the Department and concluded that, on its most positive assumptions, a Bus Rapid Transit scheme would provide 85 per cent of the benefits of Supertram for 50 per cent of the costs. Even at the lower end of its assumptions Atkins found that Bus Rapid Transit would deliver more than half the benefits of Supertram for half the costs. Based on the Atkins report the Department rejected the promoters’ revised Supertram proposal and urged the promoters to develop proposals for a “top of the range bus option” instead.[22] [10] The promoters disagreed with Atkins’ findings, particularly on the relative attractiveness of Bus Rapid Transit for potential passengers compared with Supertram.[67] [68]

The above table only lists the main events.

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Useful Information

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When Labour took power in 1997, it merged the Department of Transport (DoT) and the Department of the Environment, to form the new Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR). In 2001, this was changed to the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR). This was replaced by the Department for Transport (DfT) on the 29th May 2002.

On the 29th November 2004, junior transport minister Derek Twigg issued statements terminating the Portsmouth and Liverpool tram schemes.[69] Merseytravel had spent £70 million on the Liverpool scheme[70]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "Seven on track for Supertram" Construction News, 2 March 1995
  2. "Leeds Supertram to make way for bonanza" Construction News, 20 May 1993
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 railway-technology.com
  4. "Flattened by the tram" Halifax Courier, 18 May 2001
  5. "Supertram bosses get rough ride at ‘summit’" Yorkshire Evening Post, 7 March 2002
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "Wait for it! Tram team seeks later deadline" Yorkshire Evening Post, 9 February 2005
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 "£1bn Supertram talks blighted by huge cost increase" Yorkshire Evening Post, 3 April 2004
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 BBC 29 January 2004
  9. "Supertram goes up the wall in lobbying effort" Yorkshire Evening Post, 27 January 2005
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 "Leeds Supertram" House of Commons (Hansard) Written Statement, 3 November 2005
  11. Letter to Metro re withdrawal of funding November 2005
  12. "Transport: Leeds Supertram faces probe" LocalGov, 8 March 2006
  13. "A City Betrayed" Yorkshire Evening Post, 9 November 2005
  14. "Supertram decision 'doesn't add up'" Yorkshire Evening Post, 22 January 2007
  15. "City is forced to count the cost of cancelling Supertram" Yorkshire Evening Post, 9 November 2005
  16. "Leeds Supertram told to take the bus" Railway People, 8 November 2005
  17. Parliamentary debate on light rail, Hansard 30 November 2005
  18. "Contractors caught in PFI cross" Construction News, 8 November, 2001
  19. "Integrated Transport: The Future of Light Rail and Modern Trams in the United Kingdom" House of Commons Transport Committee, Tenth Report of Session 2004–05, Scott Macintosh, Ev 123
  20. "Integrated Transport: The Future of Light Rail and Modern Trams in the United Kingdom" House of Commons Transport Committee, Tenth Report of Session 2004–05, Memorandum by pteg, Ev 148
  21. "Rivals furious over Supertram decision" Construction News, 1 August 2002
  22. 22.00 22.01 22.02 22.03 22.04 22.05 22.06 22.07 22.08 22.09 22.10 22.11 22.12 22.13 National Audit Office report
  23. "Transport Strategy" House of Commons debate, 20 July 2004
  24. 24.0 24.1 "Contractors blame cost consultants for axing of three light rail schemes” Construction News, 29 July 2004
  25. "'Investigate £39m bill' for axed Supertram" Yorkshire Post, 26 January 2006
  26. 26.0 26.1 "Improving public transport in England through light rail" National Audit Office, 23 April 2004
  27. "What Changed Your Mind Mr Darling?" Yorkshire Evening Post, 28 March 2006
  28. "Government gave millions to fund rival super tram" Halifax Courier, 17 January 2007
  29. Leeds Supertram Act 1993
  30. "Leeds Tram on Track" Construction News, 22 December 1994
  31. "Tramtrack inches ahead in South Leeds race" Construction News, 12 October 1995
  32. "South Leeds Supertram sets up March deadline" Construction News, 18 January 1996
  33. "Leeds Supertram to face inquiry” Construction News, 19 September 1996
  34. "Travelling light in the city" Construction News, 15 May 1997
  35. Leeds Supertram Proposals Granted TWA Powers 20 December 2000
  36. The Leeds Supertram (Extension) Order 2001
  37. "New study on plans to extend super tram link" Yorkshire Evening Post, 30 April 2001
  38. "Where the transport buck stops" Construction News, 26 January 2006
  39. "Govt backs Leeds tram" Construction News, 5 April 2001
  40. 40.0 40.1 "Proposed Leeds Supertram" LRTA
  41. "Jobs offered on Leeds Supertram" Construction News, 8 November 2001
  42. "Manpower fears hit Supertram project” Construction News, 10 January, 2002
  43. "Tram scramble, Construction News, 31 January, 2002
  44. “Big hitters on shortlist for Leeds super tram” Building, 2002 issue 11
  45. "Consortia prepare their bids for Supertram deal" Construction News, 21 March, 2002
  46. "Skills shortages force Mowlem out of Supertram bid” Construction news, 9 May, 2002
  47. "Light rail, heavy losses" Constructions News, 24 July 2003
  48. "Supertram consortia make bids" Construction News, 15 August 2002
  49. "Bechtel quits £500m tram bid after cost row” Building, 2002 issue 27
  50. "Bids in for Leeds Supertram” Building, 2002 issue 42
  51. "Trams get a fare deal" Supply Management, 17 February 2005
  52. "Work finally begins on 'Supertram" Morley Observer, 12 March 2003
  53. "Cash crisis stalls rail upgrade" The Guardian, 9 May 2004
  54. "Cost plan for tram scheme" Construction News, 18 November 2004
  55. "Current tram schemes" Construction News, 13 January 2005
  56. "Light rail plans 'lacked strategy'" Construction News, 18 November 2004
  57. "Leeds urgency" Construction News, 3 March 2005
  58. 58.0 58.1 "Supertram: A lost cause?" BBC 27 July 2005
  59. "Integrated Transport: The Future of Light Rail and Modern Trams in the United Kingdom" House of Commons Transport Committee, Tenth Report of Session 2004–05
  60. "Improving public transport in England through light rail" House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, 5 April 2005
  61. "End of the line for Leeds Supertram’ Construction News, 3 November 2005
  62. "Leeds £350m Supertram under the microscope" Construction News, 25 July 2005
  63. ""Leeds destiny" Construction News, 4 August 2005
  64. "Minister calls for more time on £350m Leeds Supertram" Construction News, 27 July 2005
  65. "Rail's gruelling time" Construction News, 28 July 2005
  66. "Darling denies rift with antitram officials delayed decisions” Construction New, 27 October 2005
  67. "Darling axes Supertram" Construction News, 10 November 2005
  68. "End of the line for Leeds Supertram" Construction News, 3 November 2005
  69. "Silence of the trams" Railway Gazette, 1 January 2006
  70. "Report reveals huge cost of Merseytram fiasco" Liverpool Echo, 17 January 2008