City centre public transport services may have to be mothballed if they do not receive Government support, Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has said.

In a joint press conference with Liverpool City Region metro mayor Steve Rotheram on Tuesday, Mr Burnham said passenger numbers on Manchester's Metrolink tram service were 95% down due to the coronavirus lockdown.

Mr Rotheram said the Merseyrail services, which operate in Liverpool and surrounding areas, were losing £1.2 million a week.

Last month, the Department for Transport announced traditional rail franchise agreements would be suspended to avoid train companies collapsing, but Mr Burnham and Mr Rotheram said the light rail systems in their cities had not been given any support.

They called for Government support as they spoke about plans for the North West to recover economically following the pandemic.

Mr Burnham said:

At the moment we are losing millions of pounds every month with regard to trying to run a public transport service in these circumstances and, if there is no deal from the Government in the way they have bailed out bus and the rail sectors, we are going to face the very difficult decision soon of whether or not we have to mothball the Metrolink system.

Andy Burnham

He said a deal was needed in "days rather than weeks".

Mr Rotheram said that in Merseyside they were "determined" to keep the services going but were reducing to a core service for essential workers.

During the press conference, which was held remotely, Mr Burnham also called for more funding for local authorities and for the regions to have a "seat at the table" of a national recovery council, as proposed by the TUC.

He said:

This is the time to build back better.

Andy Burnham

Mr Rotheram added:

We need to rebuild a different type of economy, an economy that puts communities at its heart.

Steve Rotheram