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Light rail news roundup 15th April 2021 Thursday April 15, 2021

In light rail news this week – study finds tram ventilation systems limit risk of virus spread, track works planned in Nottingham, lots of vacancies ahead of Metro expansion, frequency increase in Sheffield and risk model developed by LRSSB

Last week we were all saddened by news of the passing of Steve Berry, Head of Highways Maintenance, Light Rail, Innovation & Resilience at the Department for Transport.

Steve was a strong advocate for light rail and always supportive of UKTram and its work. His commitment, and enthusiasm for transport in general, was reflected in his decision to carry on working following a diagnosis of terminal cancer late last year.

He will be sadly missed and the team our thoughts go out to his family, friends and colleagues. An online condolence book has been opened here where you can leave your own tribute.

New standards for engineers published

A project aimed at further driving professionalism across the light rail sector has reached a major milestone with the publication of new National Occupational Standards (NOS) for roles in tram and tramway engineering.

Developed by UKTram, the standards are now available free of charge to organisations operating in the sector and can be used as a resource in a wide range of HR and training functions – including the development of in-house training schemes, vocational qualifications and apprenticeships.

Over the past 12 months, drawing on the experience of members and experts from across the sector, UKTram carried out a thorough review of existing engineering roles and the key competencies required, and you can read the full story here.

Light Rail Awards

Entries for this year’s Global Light Rail Awards are now open! Now in their 15th year, the awards celebrate excellence and innovation within the light and urban rail sectors.

This year they’re set to be presented ‘in person’ at the familiar home of the awards event, London’s magnificent Honourable Artillery Company, on Wednesday 6 October 2021.

Supported by UKTram and public and private sector organisations from across the industry – entries are free, with submissions required by Monday 16 August 2021 and you can read more here.

In other light rail news:

Manchester Metrolink

An independent study has found an in-built ventilation system on Metrolink’s trams helps to limit the risk of aerosol transmission of viruses, such as COVID-19. 

Transport for Greater Manchester commissioned global built environment and consultancy firm Arup to undertake Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modelling of its M5000 trams – the first study of its kind in the UK.

The modelling assessed the air flow within the vehicle, with particular focus on how this relates to the potential for aerosol transmission of viruses, by looking at how exhaled breath spreads through the vehicle, and how that is affected by factors like opening windows and mask wearing.

You can read all about the study here.


Works to replace tram tracks on the Lace Market curve are scheduled to take place later this month ahead of further lifting of Covid restrictions.

The work, which will affect tram services and some bus routes, was originally planned to take place this summer but has been brought forward so they can be completed when fewer people are using the tram services, to minimise disruption to passengers, businesses and visitors to the city centre.

Track at the corner of Fletcher Gate and Victoria Street – believed to be one of the sharpest bends on a UK tram system – will be replaced to ensure tram services can continue to be provided safely and reliably and you can read more here.

West Midlands Metro

As West Midlands Metro looks forward to significant expansion, the tramway continues to recruit talented and enthusiastic people seeking a career in light rail.

The network operator, Midland Metro Limited, currently has vacancies for drivers/customer representatives and in maintenance and engineering, providing the opportunity to join a sector that offers a wealth of rewarding career opportunities.

You can read more about the operator’s latest recruitment campaign here.

Sheffield Supertram

Following the further easing of coronavirus restrictions, Stagecoach Supertram has announced that they will introducing new timetables this week which see Purple and Yellow routes returning to a full service.

However, Blue route and the Tram-Train services will continue to run at reduced frequencies and you can read more here.

Tyne & Wear Metro

A series of eye-catching artworks have gone on display on the Tyne and Wear Metro, showcasing a new exhibition at BALTIC which is set to open in May when lockdown measures ease.

In an exciting partnership with Metro operator, Nexus, work by 13 different artists are on display at Metro Station platforms at Bede, Cullercoats, Hebburn, Wallsend and West Jesmond, and will remain in place right through the summer.

These works are a taster of 158 works that form part of a forthcoming exhibition, BALTIC Open Submission, and you can see the full story here.

Extension Projects

The West Midlands Metro extension linking Digbeth with the city centre will enter main construction later this spring when works to construct a tramway junction at Lower Bull Street and Corporation Street get underway.

To allow new track to be laid for the much-anticipated Birmingham Eastside Metro extension, Lower Bull Street will close to all traffic during construction while pedestrian access will be maintained at all times.

This next phase of works will follow the completion of utility upgrades and diversions in the area and you can read all about it here.


A major review of light rail risk factors is now being initiated as part of efforts to build a comprehensive, sector-wide model.

Experts from Atkins, a leading rail safety consultancy, are working on behalf of the LRSSB to develop updated ‘risk profiles’ covering all UK systems and you can find out more about the project here.

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