Private tramway plan in new bid to get us moving
A MULTI-MILLION pound tram system for Swansea is back on the agenda.
Councillors will discuss the feasibility of bringing a tram network to the city — at a cost running into hundreds of millions — when the council's Environment, Regeneration and Culture Overview Board meets on Monday.
The board's chairman is Rob Speht, who has been leading a campaign to bring trams to the region.
He said there is public support for such a move, which could see trams linking Swansea to Llanelli and Port Talbot.
He said: "Over the past year or so around 1,000 people have signed petitions to persuade Swansea Council to look at bringing trams back. This is growing at a rate of about 10 signatures per day at the moment through the online petition at www.trams4 swansea.org.uk
"In Swansea there is a deep well of support for trams, as the very first tram in the world — Mumbles Railway — was built here more than 200 years ago."
Councillor Speht said Swansea could take inspiration from the experiences of other cities.
He was chairman of Swansea Council's cabinet advisory committee for economic development from 2004 to 2006, and looked into the feasibility of such a scheme. The committee visited Sheffield, Manchester and Nottingham to take evidence from their city councils.
He said: "I am very impressed by the way in which Nottingham has funded its new trams in recent years, which has been mostly funded using private (bank) finance for both the first phase and newly confirmed extensions.
"If the same method is used in Swansea, we would afford to fund a project of up to around £400 million, of which about £50 million would be found in cash by the city and county of Swansea over several years.
"This is the same order of magnitude as the costs for building the Liberty Stadium, The LC, or the Guildhall refurbishment, and is therefore within the scale of magnitude that the council is able to achieve.
Councillor Speht added that the timescale for such a project would outdate the economic crisis.
He said: "The timescales for all of this are over the next five to eight years, and therefore well beyond the current budgeting problems caused by the recession."
The Landore councillor added that the council was not looking to run the tram system itself.
The Environment, Regeneration and Culture Overview Board will meet to discuss the feasibility of bringing trams to the area on Monday at the Civic Centre from 4pm.