Multi-million pound tram plans to link Romsey to Southampton given backing boost
Business leaders have thrown their weight behind a multi million-pound super tram system that would link Romsey with Southampton. They say the service is vital in a bid to ease traffic and congestion in and around the major Hampshire city.The project, developed by the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) would see trams run from Eastleigh, past the airport, down to a new station at Southampton St Mary’s, on to an interchange at Royal Pier, then back up to Westquay and Southampton Central railway station.
The plan also envisages the network – which could be a tram or a light railway – be extended west to Romsey and from there back to Eastleigh, and eastwards to Segensworth along with another spur heading south down the Waterside to Marchwood.
As previously reported, the scheme had received a mixed response from Romsey community leaders. Test Valley councillor Mark Cooper said he was in favour of the plans, but noted several drawbacks, which included the overall cost of the scheme and the additional housing development, which he says, will automatically follow the tram investments; this is due to the increased accessiblity of Southampton from Romsey.
MP for Romsey and Southampton North Caroline Nokes, added her interest in the scheme, but said work must be undertaken so “the transport system better serves the people of this constituency in the long term”.
Nevertheless, councillor Clive Collier, member for Romsey Abbey, said that even though the metro will get car off of the road, he questioned why residents would not instead take the train. What is the point on spending a lot of money for something that is already there in train and bus services,” he added.
Originally, the concept was designed as a solution to highlight the need for an integrated transport network to promote growth in the region and to cut congestion which the LEP says costs the Hampshire economy £400 million per year.
The LEP envisages the scheme would bring game-changing efficiencies for businesses and organisations seeking better connections to their customers, workforces and potential labour pools.
Gary Jeffries, Solent LEP chairman, said: “Solent Metro is our vision for the truly modern, fast and reliable public transport network our region needs to get moving again, boost our business productivity and profit margins, and catalyse further transformational investment into the area.
“So far, this ambition has been met with support from the business community.”
The LEP has commissioned a feasibility study into the project.
Mark Baulch, head of policy and representation at Hampshire Chamber of Commerce added: “The Hampshire Chamber of Commerce endorses the need for innovative transport solutions for the Solent corridor, the first phase of which could be the Solent Metro.
“The chamber has been exploring ways to alleviate the problems of road congestion that the Solent region currently endures and welcomes plans to help reduce the cost of this to local businesses.”