Labour will remain fully committed to extending the Nottingham Tram Network if they get into power at the next general election – and this could include an extension to Gedling.
Speaking during a visit to Nottingham, the shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said the tram network had brought huge benefits to the city, and the East Midlands, and further extensions would advance this.
The tram network’s construction was funded by a private finance initiative (PFI), which involved commercial loans from banks. Mr McDonald said a Labour government would “look afresh” at whether this would be the best model to pay for the extension, and that they would “learn lessons in the future”.
Mr McDonald did not say what the total cost would be, but he did praise the workplace parking levy as “imaginative”, and said his government would look at alternative tax-raising models.
He said: “Nottingham’s tram is a great example of what can be achieved in a city on this scale.
“But there is yet further potential that we could do, and there are plans to look at extensions to the system, so that’s a really exciting prospect, because we need to capitalise on the success that’s already there.
“We’ve already got that infrastructure there. It’s already established it’s a case of getting greater benefits by expanding that.”
Asked about how much the extension would cost, and how he planned to pay for it, he said: “Frankly the cost of this whole system is surprisingly economical and under control. I’m really quite impressed by the cost.
“The challenge for this sector is to bring those costs down and there is already a consultation underway about where further tram networks can be expanded.
“But we are talking about hundreds of millions for certain stretches, which I think represents an excellent return.”
Mr McDonald was joined on his tram journey from Nottingham to Toton Park and Ride by Greg Marshall, Labour’s candidate at the next general election.
Mr Marshall, who is also the Labour councillor for the Beeston ward on Broxtowe Borough Council, said: “The Kimberley line is absolutely something people want in the town. It’s all about regeneration and improving areas that have been left behind and forgotten. This is a fantastic opportunity for us to invest in the town.
“It will reduce commuter problems into Nottingham city and be an opportunity for a regular, safe, clean and efficient public transport network, and it’s also about addressing climate change problems we are facing.
“It’s an ongoing problem the world is facing, and anything that reduces emissions has got to be a good thing.”
It is thought the line could travel through Kimberley on former rail lines – which would minimise construction disruption – before continuing to Giltbrook, where Ikea is based.
Councillor David Mellen, leader of Nottingham City Council, and said: “We’re pleased that there’s a recognition of the success and popularity of our tram network, with different areas keen to explore the possibility of bringing its swift, reliable services to them.
“There’s no doubt that expanding our already well connected tram network would help to further reduce congestion around the city, and we are continuing to look at options for future extensions across the whole of Nottingham.
“This includes Kimberley, as well as options to extend to HS2, Fairham Pastures and Gedling, but it would clearly need significant support and financial input from the Government to make this happen.”
A spokeswoman for the Department for Transport said: “Passengers across Derby and Nottingham are benefitting from new technology, including real-time travel information and a roll out of smart ticketing, thanks to £7 million from our Transforming Cities Fund.
“We are also working with both councils to develop plans for a share of the second £1.22 billion round of the fund, supporting larger improvements to public and sustainable transport in the city regions.
“We will consider proposals to fund additional tram schemes, based on value for money for the taxpayer and benefits for passengers and the wider community.”