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Light rail news roundup Thursday December 17, 2020

In this weeks Light Rail news – Donating loose change in Wolverhampton, festive hampers in Blackpool, Luas reminds passengers they must buy a ticket, 24hour ‘chatbot’ at NET and Trams to Newhaven ‘sleigh’ gives gifts to local schools.

A powerful strategy aimed at shaping a progressive future for the UK’s light rail sector is set to be delivered to Government, industry leaders have been told.

James Hammett, Managing Director of UKTram, has revealed work to develop the comprehensive plan had been taking place over the last six months – even whilst the sector was grappling with the considerable impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic.

During the organisation’s Annual General Meeting he also outlined the organisation’s priorities for the year ahead and said there was no doubt the sector could help to drive an effective and greener economic recovery following the coronavirus pandemic, an argument that would be put before Ministers.

The AGM, which was held online due to current coronavirus restrictions, also saw transport consultant Mathew Taylor elected as a UKTram director, while legal expert Martin Fleetwood was co-opted to serve on the board for a further year. To read the full story, click here.

Travel patterns

Meeting the demands of changing travel patterns due to evolving coronavirus restrictions have proved a major challenge for light rail operators over the past few months.

During a recent ‘Sounding Board’ Teams meeting, members of UKTram’s Light Rail Operators Committee heard that, across the country, had faced capacity issues during the middle of the day with an increasing number of shoppers and part-time workers. For more on the meeting, click here.

West Midlands Metro

Small change in passengers’ pockets could bring big changes to the lives of some of the region’s most vulnerable people thanks to a campaign backed by West Midlands Metro.

Customers are being asked to donate their loose change at tram stops in support of Change Into Action, and its sister charity Alternative Giving, which supports individuals at risk of homelessness in Wolverhampton.

The campaign is being run jointly with Midland Main Line trains and will help to provide support to people rough sleeping and at risk of becoming homeless over the Christmas and New Year period and the full story can be found here.

Edinburgh Trams

Edinburgh Trams has announced its Christmas holiday services with trams continuing to run to the temporary timetable that’s been in place since the summer. Trams run at least every 15 minutes throughout the day and will run at this frequency on all days over Christmas except for Christmas Day.

With no big Hogmanay street party this year, services will not be affected by the usual closure of Princes Street on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day and you can read more here.

Blackpool Transport

Blackpool Transport is thanking customers for their support throughout this difficult year by giving away festive hampers. Three lucky winners will get their hamper delivered to their doorstep in time for Christmas.

To find out more, click here.

Manchester Metrolink

Metrolink services were disrupted earlier this week, after a number of trams were withdrawn from service.

Recently installed equipment, used to monitor vehicles, detected damage to some pantographs on Monday and the operator briefly paused services to allow for a full inspection of the fleet and you can read more here.

Tyne & Wear Metro

Nexus has announced Feeding Families as its chosen charity, as voted for by employees.

The tie up with the charity will include regular food donations and fundraising activities throughout the year, starting this week.

Last Friday at Gateshead Interchange Nexus staff joined in the festive spirit by collecting cash donations from the public, passengers and staff and they’ll be at Park Lane Interchange on Monday December 21 to do the same.

Collections have also started in Nexus buildings and will continue into 2021 and you can read the full story here.


Luas has issued a reminder to customers that staff are checking tickets every day and warned that anyone caught travelling without a valid ticket, Leap Card, or Public Services Card with Free Travel, will be issued with a Standard Fare Notice.

The Penalty for not having a valid ticket on Luas is €100. However, if paid promptly within 14 days, a discounted fee of €45 applies and you can read more here.


It’s now easier than ever for customers to access advice on travelling by tram in Nottingham thanks to a 24-hour chatbot service and the adoption of a popular messaging app.

Following feedback from customers, the operator has introduced WhatsApp to boost its response to customer enquiries and chatbots providing a 24/7 service to customers posing frequently asked questions online.

Click here to read more.

Extension Projects

In Edinburgh, as part of the Trams to Newhaven community benefits scheme, pupils from a number of local schools have received a special visit from Santa and his elves.

With Rudolph resting up for the big day, a Trams to Newhaven sleigh/pickup hybrid went dashing through the streets of Leith parking up in each of the school’s playgrounds. In keeping with Government guidelines, individual classes were invited outside to see Santa, spreading some much-needed festive cheer around the local area.

Over 1500 selection boxes were distributed between the schools involved, all donated from the project’s partners and subcontractors and you can read the full story here.

A West Midlands Metro extension linking Digbeth with the city centre has moved a step forward with the much-anticipated light rail route now in the preliminary construction stage following approval by the Department of Transport earlier this year.

The £227m Birmingham Eastside extension will help transform and support the regeneration of Digbeth through improving connectivity and making the most out of HS2 and the full story can be found here.


Permission has been granted by Devon County Council to undertake works to Seaton Tramway’s Level Crossing at Colyford, with works taking place in January.

Work will see the removal of the existing tramway tracks, to be replaced with new rails and foundations under and across the carriageway and you can read more here.


As the end of the year approaches, the LRSSB has published its latest newsletter to keep stakeholders updated on the organisation’s activities over the last few months of 2020.

Alongside a welcome from new Chief Executive Carl Williams, it includes summaries on several key projects, including the development of new hazard perception tool and the adoption of a risk management model.

There’s also news of our success at this year’s Global Light Rail Awards and you can find the full newsletter here.


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