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Praise for networks providing vital service Thursday April 16, 2020

The response of UKTram members to the coronavirus outbreak has been praised by the leader of the organisation representing the UK’s light rail sector.

George Lowder, Chairman of UKTram, said the safety of customers and employees remains the over-riding priority for the sector, which had risen to the challenges of keeping cities and key workers moving, while reducing the risk of spreading the virus.

“Although the government has called for a halt to all non-essential travel, many NHS staff and other key workers rely on trams to get to and from work,” he explained.

“In these unprecedented circumstances, maintaining services presents significant practical challenges, including reduced staffing levels due to illness or self-isolation and the implementation of social distancing measures.

“At the same time, decreasing patronage and reduced timetables have seen revenues plummet as customers follow the instruction to stay at home and avoid all non-essential travel.”

Throughout the crisis, UKTram has been playing its part by providing the Government with up-to-date information on the response of light rail to the outbreak while raising the concerns of its Members.

“We’re actively working with the DfT to explore the support Members will need to continue meeting the fixed costs associated with maintaining a vital service,” Mr Lowder said.

“Due to the differing contractual obligations under which networks operate, a sector-wide solution is not straightforward, unlike some other forms of public transport. But we would like to thank the DfT for their commitment to providing support, and we’re working towards agreeing with Ministers and Officials a package of measures that should be announced shortly.”