A GROUP campaigning for a tram system in the town has hit back following claims that it would prove to be too inflexible and expensive.

Comments made by Ben Wakerley, managing director of Warrington’s Own Buses, have sparked a response from Cheshire Tramways.

Mr Wakerley says a tram scheme would not only prove inflexible, with just two lines, but also expensive compared to an equivalent bus priority scheme.

He also insists the bus company is best placed to deliver a ‘more attractive’ alternative to cars – while calling on the borough to firmly get behind buses and rail.

As part of the draft local transport plan, which will be going out to consultation, the council has started to investigate a new mass transit network for the town.

The study considers two possible modes for a mass transit solution – light rail/tram and bus rapid transit.

Cheshire Tramways co-ordinator Ian Buttress has challenged Mr Wakerley and criticised him for ‘pressing for’ guided busways as opposed to trams.

“This is a misconception in that both ideas can apply in different corridors,” said Mr Buttress.

“For trams we need a feasibility study for phase one of a tram network, which we see as north-south and east-west lines which can be added to later.

“For these lines private funding can be arranged, subject to a suitable business plan, so no grants are needed.

“We have consistently put forward the idea of a tram network being operated by Warrington’s Own Buses.

“The feasibility study will need to identify the site for a tram depot.

“We see park and ride as essential at the termini of the tram lines.

“Only part of the bus fleet of Warrington’s Own Buses are eco-friendly, whereas trams totally reduce pollution.”

In relation to the housing proposals set out for south Warrington in the draft local plan, he added: “This is linked to transport policy because the areas for new housing have poor road infrastructure.”