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Light rail news roundup Thursday November 26, 2020

In this weeks light rail news – Time capsule buried at Tyne & Wear, Wi-Fi disconnected in Manchester, new ticketing app for travel on NET, Teams and Zoom backgrounds on an Edinburgh Tram, plus first track laid on Trams to Newhaven extension. 

A new project by UKTram aims to help promoters navigate one of the complex statutory processes associated with developing new light rail projects.

Since 1993, Transport and Works Act (TWA) Orders have been required to secure the ‘powers’ needed to build, operate and maintain a tramway, and now experts from across the light rail sector are sharing their experience of both securing and working with them.

By promoting best practice and producing handy guidance for individuals and organisations promoting new schemes, they aim to help them understand some of the key clauses contained within the Orders and the implications of them.

The project is being led by Vicki Matthews of VM Enabling Transport on behalf of UKTram’s Centre of Excellence, and you can read the full story here.

Engineering update

Engineers from across the sector have been working to drive forward practical solutions to a range of technical challenges facing light rail.

During the latest quarterly meeting of the UKTram Light Rail Engineering Group, members discussed a range of topics, including low rail adhesion and its impact on services.

At the ‘virtual’ meeting last week, they agreed to share data on the issue and to seek the support of other UKTram members with specific expertise as part of wider research into possible solutions.

Click here for more details about the meeting.


In other light rail news:

Tyne & Wear Metro

A time capsule has been buried as part of the system’s 40th anniversary celebrations, with local schoolchildren helping to pick out a range of Metro memorabilia to preserve for future generations.

The time capsule was buried at the Gosforth Metro fleet depot in Newcastle ahead of its £70m rebuild, which starts in earnest next year.

Among the items that were sealed away were children’s letters and drawings about Metro, original designs and historic newspaper cuttings alongside track and signal components and more contemporary items such as posters and badges.

You can read the full story here.

Sheffield Supertram

The network last week reinstated its evening timetable. Blue and yellow routes are still running every 15 or 20 minutes, Monday to Saturday, and every 20 minutes on Sundays.

Purple route services run every 30 minutes all day every day, and the tram train is also providing two services an hour. All routes are now operating until the usual later finish time, and you can find a full timetable here.

Manchester Metrolink

The Manchester Evening News is reporting that Metrolink is permanently withdrawing free wi-fi from its trams.

The service was originally suspended in June following the first coronavirus lockdown.


It just got a little easier to travel with a Robin Hood Card in Nottingham with the launch of a new ticketing app that lets customers top up wherever they are.

Robin Hood Cards can be used to pay for travel on most bus, tram and train operators across the city, with a capped daily price on Pay As You Go (PAYG) cards, and great savings on season products. More details can be found here.

Edinburgh Trams

Anyone missing their daily commute by tram while working from home can now enjoy some of the experience from the comfort of their own home!

With lockdown restrictions still in place, Edinburgh Trams has released a series of images that customers can use as a background for their online meetings.

Simply right-click and save the images here as a desktop, or upload to Teams or Zoom as a new background. Alternatively, hold down on a smartphone to save.

West Midlands Metro

Work to replace lifts at The Hawthorns rail station is set to start next month, improving access for both train and tram customers.

While the works take place there will be no step-free access to either the station or tram stop, and you can read the full story here.

Extension projects

Work to construct the Edinburgh extension to Newhaven is well underway, with the first tracks being laid in Leith.

Contractors have begun constructing the 2.91-mile line and are currently working on the sections next to Ocean Terminal and in Tower Street, Leith.

Last week councillors approved the continued construction of the line in light of an updated Final Business Case (FBC) reflecting on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the project.

You can read the full story here.


The National Tramway Museum at Crich and the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways have joined forces on the restoration of the Blackpool 298 tramcar.

The project is being supported with funding from Blackpool Railcoach and the Tramcar Sponsorship Organisation.

The car had been withdrawn from service in 1972, requiring a full body overhaul but was considered surplus to requirements and sold in 1976 to Keith Terry and the Blackpool Railcoach Fund for restoration and display at Crich.

You can read the full story here.

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