§ Mr. Churchill
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on(a) the funding of the Manchester Metrolink light rail and (b) the environmental benefits achieved by Metrolink. 
§ Mr. Norris
Bids for light rail schemes are submitted to my Department during the annual transport policies and programmes—TPP—round, and are funded through the package approach. I am prepared to consider supporting light rail schemes, including extensions to the Metrolink, provided they can be demonstrated to be the right and most cost-effective solution to a particular urban transport problem, where they are planned within the context of a strategy or transport package to achieve mode shift away from the private car and where they will attract significant private sector and local investment. It should be remembered, however, that light rail is not the only solution to urban transport problems, and the difficulties and costs associated with developing schemes should not be underestimated.
Manchester Metrolink is currently carrying about 13 million passengers a year, and is estimated to have removed about 1.3 million car journeys a year from the corridor it serves.