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Latest funding for light rail welcomed Sunday May 24, 2020

Additional government funding to help light rail systems restore pre-coronavirus service levels has been welcomed by UKTram.

The organisation’s Managing Director, James Hammett, says the strong case presented by UKTram has been listened to, with ministers and officials heeding its calls for financial support as operators look to a return of full timetables.

“Through every phase of the pandemic we’ve highlighted the specific challenges our members face and played a pivotal role in shaping the government’s response,” he explained.

Now the voice of the country’s light rail sector is set to continue its daily dialogue with the Department for Transport to press for the ongoing support that will be needed to secure the sector’s long-term recovery.

“The £29 million announced by government this weekend will certainly provide a shot in the arm for tramways and light rail systems in England planning a return to pre-coronavirus service levels,” Mr Hammett said.

“But, with the advice to avoid public transport still in place and reduced capacity due to social distancing, it doesn’t look like there’ll be a swift return to ‘normal’ operations.”

The funding announced by transport secretary Grant Shapps is part of a wider £283 million package for the country’s buses, roads and railways and covers networks in five English cities – Sheffield, Manchester, West Midlands, Nottingham, and Tyne and Wear.

“Clearly the government has recognised the many challenges they face, including meeting the fixed costs of running services alongside the additional expense of implementing social distancing processes and other measures to ensure the safety of customers and employees,” Mr Hammett said.

“While the government has listened to our calls for immediate support, the latest tranche of funding only runs until August and we need to continue working together as we plan for long term recovery and growth.

“On behalf of its members, UKTram will continue to press for ongoing backing for a mode of transport that’s proved a vital service through these unprecedented times and has an important role to play in the nation’s recovery,” he added.