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Light rail news roundup 4th March 2021 Thursday March 4, 2021

 In our news round up this week – UKTram continues to work with governments on light rail support, ‘World cup’ kicks off with battle of the tram stops, engineering works extended in Blackpool, works start on £70m depot at South Gosforth and LRSSB launch consultation on medical fitness.

UKTram has this week pledged to continue working in partnership with the UK and Scottish Governments to secure additional support for light rail as coronavirus restrictions are cautiously lifted.

Throughout the pandemic, UKTram has maintained a constant dialogue with the Department for Transport and Transport Scotland, providing Ministers and Officials with valuable information on the impact of Covid-19 on the sector.

These constructive talks are continuing following the government’s recent publication of a ‘road map’ setting out a timeline for the easing of restrictions.

However, any significant return to pre-pandemic passenger numbers is still many months away and may never return to pre-COVID levels and patterns.

In an article here George Lowder, Chair of UKTram, says UKTram – with the support of members – will continue to provide the Department of Transport and Transport Scotland with the up-to-date information they need to draw up further emergency measures, while pressing for ongoing funding to help meet inevitable shortfalls in revenue.

Strengthening ties

UKTram has further strengthened its international links by becoming a full member of an organisation promoting and supporting public transport across the world.

By upgrading its membership of the UITP, the International Association of Public Transport, it will now be able to help drive future global initiatives by joining a series of working groups and you can read more here.

Closing to home, the organisation is forging even closer ties with the wider transport industry after becoming a full member of a highly respected organisation for industry professionals, the Chartered Institute of Highways & Transport (CIHT). The full story can be found here.

World Cup kicks off

Polling is now underway in the World Cup of Trams, with votes pouring in for the nation’s most popular tram stops. You can read more about the competition here and don’t forget to cast your vote on Twitter, @worldcupoftrams.

In other light rail news:

Blackpool Transport

Engineering works on the system have been extended for a further week and trams will run between Starr Gate andBispham only until Sunday (March 6).

Customers can use Blackpool Transport’s Service 1 bus to complete their journey and you can read more here.

Tyne & Wear Metro

Work has started on the system’s new £70m train depot with contractors removing large sections of track and overhead lines to make way for the new building at South Gosforth in Newcastle.

The depot will be home to the new train fleet over the coming years, and the preparatory works currently underway will pave the way for demolition of the old building to start next month.

It is expected to take four years for the new Metro depot to be ready and you can read more here.


Safety professionals from across the light rail sector are helping to develop comprehensive, up-to-date guidance covering the management of workplace medical fitness.

Drawing on existing best practice, current legislation and risk assessments from light rail operators and related sectors, it aims to provide guidance for assessing the medical suitability of employees responsible for operating a vehicle.

Mark Ashmore, Safety Assurance Manager at the LRSSB, explained that a draft document is now being reviewed by colleagues from across the sector and already generated a lot of positive feedback.

Once this consultation is complete, a final version of the document, designated LRG11.0 Medical Fitness will be available on the LRSSB website and you can read the full story here.