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Light rail news round up 18th February 2021 Thursday February 18, 2021

In light rail news this week – maintenance works see closures on West Midlands Metro and Tyne & Wear Metro, mass transit plan for Edinburgh, apprentice success in Blackpool, DLR remembers victims of terrorist attack 25 years ago, go ahead for £24m Dudley Interchange and new stray current guidance from LRSSB.

The launch of a new UKTram working group has seen HR professionals from across the light rail sector commit to sharing best practice on training, recruitment and employment issues.

Representatives from Edinburgh Trams, Manchester Metrolink, West Midlands Metro, Croydon, Sheffield Supertram and Blackpool Transport joined the group’s first online meeting last week, and each gave an update on the challenges they’ve faced through the pandemic.

Topics covered included staff Covid-19 testing, furlough, vaccinations and recovery plans. Future meetings are set to look at employee engagement, recruitment post-pandemic, the kick-start programme and National Occupational Standards.

The meeting proved so successful, a second has been planned for March and you can read the full story here.

In other light rail news:

West Midlands Metro

Essential work to upgrade existing tram infrastructure will see a temporary suspension of services across West Midlands Metro this weekend.

The last trams will run between Wolverhampton St. George’s and the Library at Centenary Square at around 20.30 on Saturday, February 20, with a normal service set to resume on Monday morning (February 22) when the first tram leaves Wednesbury Parkway at 04.28.

The work is essential to plans to maintain reliability and you can read more here.

Edinburgh Trams

A comprehensive mass rapid transit plan, which includes new tram and bus systems, is set to be completed by 2025 as part of a wider ten-year plan published by City of Edinburgh Council.

The proposals aim to deliver a better connected, net zero carbon transport system, a healthier environment and a thriving, inclusive Capital.

Measures included the commitment to encourage a change in public behaviour towards the use of sustainable transport, the expansion of the tram and a mass rapid transit network.

You can read all about the plans here.

Blackpool Transport

The success of apprentices has been celebrated by the operator.

Employing over 600 staff on the Fylde Coast, the organisation currently employs six staff in apprenticeship roles, in areas including Engineering, Human Resources and Marketing.

Most recently, Chris, an Engineering Apprentice at the tram operators Starr Gate depot completed his apprenticeship and is now a full time, employed member of the team. His colleague Jake is also on course to complete his apprenticeship and was recently presented with a BTEC Level 3 Engineering Award and you can read all about them here.

Tyne & Wear Metro

Operator Nexus is set to start its most intense programme of maintenance and modernisation for almost five years.

The work will be packed into a 14-day closure of a Metro line through the centre of Newcastle and see the renewal of up to 18,000 metres of vital overhead power line, preparing the system for the arrival of a £362m new train fleet.

The public body which runs Metro has also brought forward a package of further works on its busiest section to take advantage of the major line closure and you can read more here.

Docklands Light Railway

A minute’s silence has been observed in memory of the victims of a terrorist attack 25 years ago.

Inam Bashir and John Jeffries, who had been working in their newspaper kiosk, both died when the IRA detonated a lorry bomb at Marsh Wall by South Quay station on February 9, 1996. More than 100 others were injured in the attack on the Isle of Dogs, which devastated the area.

The minute’s silence was observed onboard DLR trains and a socially-distanced memorial ceremony for survivors, led by Rev Ed Dix of St Luke’s Church Millwall, took place at South Quay station. You can read the full story here.

Extension Projects

West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) leaders have given the go ahead for the new £24 million Dudley Interchange.

The approval of the full business case means work can now get underway on a new high-quality bus and tram interchange which will form a crucial part of the wider regeneration of Dudley town centre.

Built on the site of the existing bus station, it will link to the new Metro tram extension currently under construction by the Midland Metro Alliance between Wednesbury and Brierley Hill and you can read more here.


New guidance aimed at reducing and managing the risks associated with stray electrical currents on tramways and other light rail systems has been published by the LRSSB.

Drawing on a wide range of existing British and International standards and sector expertise, the guidance is the latest in a series of safety documents to be made available through the organisation’s web portal.

This latest guidance document from the LRSSB looks at the statutory obligation of scheme sponsors and operators in relation to stray current management, as well as best practice on mitigation measures, and can be downloaded here or read more here.


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