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Light rail news roundup 18th March 2021 Thursday March 18, 2021

In light rail news this week – works in Blackpool, Manchester and Sheffield mean changes to services, demolition starts at Tyne & Wear Gosforth Depot, final stages of construction on West Midlands Metro Wolverhampton extension and Winter completion for track work at Douglas Bay Horse Tramway. 

An innovative online system to speed up and simplify the process of applying for permission to work near a tramway is set to enter the final stages of development.

Funded by UKTram, the Authority to Work (ATW) website portal and an associated app are being developed in partnership with Derby-based company Codemakers following preliminary work carried out by Edinburgh Trams

Ahead of network expansion the operator had been looking at a web-based system to streamline the process and joined forces with the light rail sector’s representative organisation to develop a comprehensive solution, Permit+.

The innovative project represents another fantastic example of the sector working in partnership and you can read all about it here.

World Cup update

It’s finals week in the UKTram World Cup of Trams with the winners of the four rounds now battling it out in the semi-finals.

Voting in the semis closes tonight (Thursday) with an overall winner set to be announced on Sunday evening after polling ends in the final, and you can read the full story here.

HR Group meets

Supporting staff during the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccinations and the ongoing coronavirus restrictions has been a key priority for HR professionals from across the light rail sector.

Lateral flow tests for employees have also been introduced by a number of operators, members of the UKTram HR Group heard this week and you can read all about the meeting here.

Blackpool Transport

Trams are continuing to run between Fleetwood Ferry and Harrow Place as essential works on the tramway progress. Service 1 buses continue to provide an alternative for customers and further updates can be found here.

Sheffield Supertram

Work to renew signalling by Network Rail will see a suspension of Tram Train services on Sunday 21 March.

Valid tram tickets will be accepted on Stagecoach and First buses between Sheffield and Rotherham and on Northern Rail services between Rotherham, Meadowhall Interchange and Sheffield station.

Tram services on other routes are not affected and will continue to operate as advertised while Tram Train services will operate between Cathedral and Meadowhall Interchange only. Full details can be found here.

Manchester Metrolink

Highway resurfacing work is set to take place this weekend on Eccles New Road and, as a result, trams will not operate between Eccles and MediaCityUK from Saturday March 20 until Monday, April 5.

Trams will run from MediaCityUK through to Ashton-under-Lyne only and a replacement bus service will run direct from Eccles to MediaCityUK every 15 minutes and will not call at any of the stops in between. The full story can be found here.

Tyne & Wear Metro

There was an historic moment for the Tyne and Wear Metro this week as work started on the demolition of its 100 year-old depot, paving the way for a £70m new modern facility on the same site – home to the new Metro train fleet.

Crews began the task of pulling down the South East side of the Gosforth depot in Newcastle on Monday, March 8. Excavators are being used to dismantle the roof and ageing brickwork.

It is expected to take another two and a half years for the new Metro depot to be fully transformed and you can read more here. 

Extension Projects

The Wolverhampton City Centre Metro extension is moving closer to completion as the final stages of construction get underway.

Midland Metro Alliance (MMA), working on behalf of Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), are returning to the city centre to carry out a series of works, including laying the final sections of track outside the revitalised Station Plaza when the city’s new railway station is complete.

The start of the final phase of the project, taking place over the spring and summer months, follows the successful completion of works, including track laying and road resurfacing, along Pipers Row and Railway Drive in 2019 before a pause in the project to allow the station works to begin.

Construction commenced this week and you can read more here.


Manx Radio has reported that work to rebuild the horse tram tracks along part of Douglas Promenade by Douglas Bay Horse Tramway will be completed over the winter period.

The infrastructure minister says he will seek Tynwald approval for the stretch, between Broadway and the Sea Terminal, in November and you can read and listen to the story here.