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Light rail news round up 12th February 2021 Friday February 12, 2021

In a bumper edition of light rail news this week – Blackpool Heritage raise over £2500 in donations for Western Train works, West Midlands Metro rapid testing staff, Edinburgh Trams takes customers to vaccination centres, Blackpool tramway closes for maintenance, Tram-trains back to 2 per hour, design contract awarded for Luas extension and construction gets underway in Dudley. 

The importance of specialist training programmes to the growth of light rail in the UK has been put in the spotlight by sector leaders this week.

UKTram is already playing a key role in helping to shape future apprenticeship programmes alongside a host of other initiatives designed to bridge a growing skills gap while encouraging more young people to consider a career in a sector that offers a wealth of opportunities.

In a feature article to mark National Apprenticeship Week (February 8–14), the Managing Director of UKTram, James Hammett, highlights some of the latest initiatives.

Having launched his own career as an apprentice engineer at Seaton Tramway in Devon, Mr Hammett is well placed to highlight the benefits of a structured approach to training and development, and you can read the full article here.

Engineers welcome research

Promising research into combatting low rail adhesion has been welcomed by light rail engineers.

In a presentation to members of the UKTram Light Rail Engineers Group, Peter Krier of Sheffield University highlighted modifications and improvements made to an innovative cryogenic kit and the results of recent trials on Tyne and Wear Metro. You can read a full report of the meeting here.

In other light rail news: 


A GoFundMe page set up to raise money for the restoration of the nation’s favourite Illuminated tram has passed its original £2,500 target.Blackpool’s legendary Western Train was in the process of a full external re-wire, body overhaul and re-paint when the Covid pandemic struck in 2020 and heritage services were suspended.Now the much-loved tram sits patiently gathering dust in our workshop with its bodywork and paintwork completed and three quarters of its wiring finished. Now it looks set for a return to service thanks to fantastic support from wellwishers and you can read all about it here.

West Midlands Metro

Operator Midland Metro Limited (MML) has joined forces with the public health team at Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council to help make the tram even safer during the ongoing pandemic.

Through the pandemic, the tram operator has pulled out all the stops to protect its customers and employees, and now it’s going even further, thanks to the offer of rapid testing for all frontline staff.

Edinburgh Trams

Customers using the tram access new Covid-19 vaccination centres close to the tramway are being offered additional travel advice from the operator.

As well as reminding them on the latest guidance for using public transport, Edinburgh Trams has also published maps showing walking routes on how to get to the Royal Highland Centre from Ingliston Park & Ride stop, the Edinburgh International Conference Centre and the RBS Building at Edinburgh Park.

You can read the full story here.

Blackpool Transport

From this Sunday (14th February), essential and scheduled maintenance will be taking place on our tramway for up to two weeks, resulting in a temporary suspension of tram services.

While no trams will run during the work taking place on track and platforms, Blackpool Transport is increasing bus services, and you can read more here.

Sheffield Supertram

Just two weeks after reducing tram–train services to an hourly daytime frequency, Sheffield Supertram have restored services to half-hourly and evening departures now extended to midnight, and more details can be found here.

Tyne & Wear Metro

A special event to celebrate 40 years of the unique and pioneering light rail system will bring together key figures from Tyne and Wear Metro’s past.

Mike Parker, the former boss of the public body which operates the Metro, and the current Director General of Nexus, Tobyn Hughes, will be joined by Huw Lewis, Customer Services Director of Nexus, for the event organised by The Urban Transport Group.

The latest in a series of free events by the Group, ‘The Tyne and Wear Metro at 40 – a lunchtime conversation on what’s next for Britain’s innovation railway?’ will include a discussion of the origins of Metro, major milestones such as the extension to Sunderland and South Hylton, as well as a look at its future.

Further details on the event, set to take place on February 24, can be found here.


Barry Transportation in partnership with Egis has been awarded the contract for Preliminary Design & Statutory Process of the Luas Green Line Finglas Extension in Dublin.

The proposed 4km extension from Broombridge to Charlestown will create a new public transport connection between the communities of Charlestown, Finglas Village, Finglas West, St Helena’s, Tolka Valley and the city centre.

This project includes four new stops, two new bridges, a Park and Ride (P&R) facility and adaptations to the Broombridge depot, and you can read the full story here.

Extension Projects

The project to deliver the new Metro extension between Wednesbury and Brierley will intensify this spring when main construction works get underway in Dudley.

Over the coming weeks, work is set to begin on removing the road surface along Castle Hill, preparing the area for track to be installed and bringing the highly-anticipated route closer to fruition.

The start of construction follows the significant progress that has been made on the project last year including the upgrade and diversion of utilities in the area as well as the successful removal of several aged structures along the 11km route and you can read more here.

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