A Bootle-based light rail firm called TRAM Power says that the Cross River Tram - recently abandoned by Mayor of London Boris Johnson - could be built with private funding and operated commercially.
Last week at Mayor's Question Time Boris Johnson called on possible private backers of the Cross River Tram to come forward after he faced Labour and Lib Dem criticism for abandoning the proposed tramway linking Camden Town with Brixton and Peckham via Waterloo Bridge.
Now a firm called TRAM Power – which is currently helping to promote a privately funded 13-mile tramway in Galway, Ireland, has claimed that both the Cross River Tram and the proposed Oxford Street Tram could be built "at no cost to the public purse".
TRAM Power says that it has undertaken an economic appraisal for both the Cross River Tram and Oxford Street tramway which shows that with some modifications to the Transport for London plans – costed at £1.3 billion – they could be built with private funding and operated commercially.
Under the TRAM Power model the private backers would only invest in the infrastructure needed to operate trams. There would be no civic space enhancements, although it says that public authorities might wish to implement such improvements in tandem with the tram work.
TRAM Power is proposing to use its own design for City Class trams in London, a prototype of which has been used in passenger service on the Blackpool tramway.
Meanwhile Liberal Youth, the student wing of the Liberal Democrats, has launched a campaign called Cross Here to keep the plans for the Cross River Tram, which would pass close to several of the colleges of the University of London in Bloomsbury, on the political agenda.