Additional emergency support to help light rail systems in the Midlands and the north of England maintain services through continued Covid-19 restrictions has been welcomed by UKTram.
£33 million is set to be shared between networks in Nottingham, Sheffield, Newcastle, Blackpool, Manchester and Birmingham following an announcement by the Department for Transport on Saturday (March 20).
The additional funding is intended to support networks over the next 11 weeks, enabling operators to maintain services for those who need to travel as restrictions are gradually lifted.
Responding to the announcement, UKTram Managing Director James Hammett, commented: “While the recently published ‘road map’ out of lockdown has brought some cautious optimism, any significant return to pre-pandemic passenger numbers is still many months away.
“This vital additional funding will help the sector to continue delivering a service that’s proved essential for many key workers through the pandemic and has an important role to play as many businesses start to reopen.”
Mr Hammett also welcomed comments by Transport Minister Baroness Vere and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay, who expressed their commitment to the keeping the country’s vital infrastructure running for people who rely on it.
Since the first restrictions were introduced, UKTram has been in constant dialogue with both the UK and devolved governments, proving them with up-to-date intelligence on the sector’s response to the crisis and the impact it has had on operations and revenue.
These constructive talks, together with the co-ordinated efforts of operators and other organisations, have helped to secure previous rounds of funding, which totalled around £160 million for systems in England and £21 million from Transport Scotland for Edinburgh Trams and Glasgow Subway.
“Together with partners from across the sector, we will continue to work closely with both the UK and Scottish governments on longer-term support for the sector post-pandemic and ensure light rail fulfils its potential to help deliver wider economic recovery,” Mr Hammett added.