The rapid response of UKTram to the coronavirus pandemic and its support for members have been highlighted in a new report.
Over the last six month the organisation has utilised its close links with both national and devolved governments, and their transport agencies, to help secure over £160 million for UK networks. During this period it’s also pressed ahead with a number of other key projects which are detailed in the draft business plan, published this week.
James Hammett, UKTram Managing Director, explained: “We would usually distribute our full plan in April, but clearly this year has presented unprecedented challenges that couldn’t have been foreseen.
“However, we adapted quickly to rapidly evolving circumstances and adjusted our priorities to meet the immediate needs of members. This is reflected in the update overview, which has now been distributed with the Business Plan to all our stakeholders, that sets out our original plan’s for 2020/21, the changes and reprioritisation, our key achievements and focus for the last six months and our future plans.”
As an immediate response to the pandemic, UKTram provided a direct link between the sector and government bodies in both England and Scotland, providing ministers and civil servants with vital information on the impact of the pandemic on services.
The report explains how strengthening those links enabled UKTram to help secure over £100 million of funding support for English systems and £9 million for Glasgow Subway and Edinburgh Trams. This has since been boosted with a further £67.8 million for networks in the north of England and the Midlands.
“At the same time we published a series of Covid-19 Guidance and Best Practice Documents and also made progress on a long-term industry strategy that takes note of the likely post-pandemic situation and puts light rail at the heart of building back better, to help meet challenging carbon net zero targets,” Mr Hammett said.
Other activities – including best practice and knowledge sharing, a Light Rail Industry Strategy, research into new technologies and the promotion of new light rail networks and extensions – are set to continue this year.
“Clearly, work relating to the coronavirus is likely to dominate our agenda for some time to come but we also hope to pick up on other planned actives in the future. These include the development of a light rail apps and projects looking at boosting customer numbers, obsolescence of infrastructure equipment and funding models and delivery options.
“These remain difficult times and we will continue to review our plans in line with an evolving situation and to reflect the priorities of our members,” he added.