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Leading Article: Project that must not fail.

HE GOVERNMENT will announce by the end of this week pounds 200m of funding that will ensure the return of trams to the streets of Liverpool after an absence of 50 years. With planning permission for Line One already granted, this crucial announcement means that the project has cleared its final hurdle, and will go ahead. It was by no means a foregone conclusion. Light railway systems are a deeply unpopular concept around the corridors of Whitehall at the moment, and there will be genuine delight behind the scenes at Merseytravel that the money that was fundamental to this project getting the go-ahead has been forthcoming.

Getting to this point has seemed at times like a remarkably fraught process, with key contractors being replaced and major and highly public disputes breaking out between the transport executive and Liverpool council.

However, the realities of public life are such that it would be rare indeed for a project of such complexity to be given the go-ahead without encountering some significant obstacles along the way.

The tram project continues to have its critics. It is abundantly clear that the route it follows is the one that has attracted the most grant support, rather than the one that is of the most practical use to the people of Merseyside. This was, unfortunately, the only expedient way of getting this project to happen.

Crucially, however, it will provide a new, clean, swift and efficient means of getting around the city centre, and as such will create a major asset both for the citizens of Liverpool and the visitors who are such a fundamental part of our plans for 2008 and beyond.

And almost as importantly, it is another major capital project for Liverpool, like Grosvenor, that will now definitely go ahead.

The city's credibility does not need the kind of negative publicity the collapse of another major project like the Fourth Grace would inevitably attract
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Title Annotation:Comment
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 7, 2005
Words:320
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