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Light rail news roundup 14th May 2021 Friday May 14, 2021

In this week’s round up of Light Rail news – Metrolink Trams clock up more than one-hundred million km, homelessness charity thanks NET for free advertising, extra trams to run in Edinburgh, Blackpool and Sheffield as restrictions lift, first phase of depot demolition completed in Tyne & Wear and first new bridge installed on West Midlands Metro extension.  

UKTram has joined an unprecedented coalition of organisations in writing to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, urging him to encourage people back on to trams, buses and trains as Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.

A failure to get people back onto public transport risks towns and cities where people are more reliant on buses, trams and trains being left behind, they say.

The letter, which has been coordinated by sustainable transport charity Campaign for Better Transport, has been endorsed by leading business, leisure and hospitality organisations and you can read the full story here.

Engineering Group

The UKTram Engineering Group continues to go from strength-to-strength despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, with the latest online meeting attracting a record number of professionals from across the sector.

The meeting last week saw all major systems in the UK and Ireland represented, with a number of engineers joining in discussions for the first time.

During updates from across the sector, they heard that major infrastructure works on light rail networks in the UK and Ireland have remained on track despite uncertainty created by Covid-19 restrictions.

A number of innovative engineering projects have also proved resilient to the crisis and you can read a full report of the meeting here.

In other light rail news:

Manchester Metrolink

Metrolink’s fleet of trams proved they really can go the distance, after clocking up more than one-hundred million kilometres (km) serving Greater Manchester’s residents, visitors and key workers.

The current 123-tram fleet, which averages 37,000km every weekday, passed the major milestone late last month and has now clocked a total of 100,431,125km since the first one was introduced onto the network in 2009.

13,772,590km of those have come since Monday 16 March 2020 – the date when the UK first went into lockdown – and you can read all about these impressive figure here.

West Midlands Metro

An initiative to help improve the lives of people with hidden disabilities has been embraced by West Midlands Metro.

The Sunflower Scheme provides an easy and discreet way for service providers such as the Metro, and their customers, to recognise someone who may need additional support, help or a little more time. The full story can be found here.


Homelessness charity Emmanuel House Support Centre has presented Nottingham’s tram network with thank you plaques to express its gratitude for a donation worth thousands of pounds in advertising.

Throughout the winter period Emmanuel House’s campaign message ‘You Can Make The Difference’ was applied to a tram side, tram stops and a double decker bus as a result of free advertising space given by the local transport companies, including NET and Nottingham City Transport, worth around £25,000.

You can read all about the record-breaking campaign here.

Edinburgh Trams

From Monday (17th May), the operator will increase our services at the busiest times of the day.

As Scotland eases out of lockdown, it’s been keeping a close eye on demand and will now operate services from every seven minutes between 11am – 1pm. These times may be expanded in line with demand and will operate every 15 minutes at other times. Click here for further information.

Blackpool Transport

Tram services in Blackpool are also set to increase in frequency as the UK progresses along the government’s roadmap for reopening.

Later services are also being added to keep customers moving, with the last Tram leaving Fleetwood Ferry at 00:15.

Trams will run every 12 minutes during the day and every 20 minutes in the morning and evenings and the full story can be found here.

Sheffield Supertram

Changes to Tram Train service from Sunday (May 16) are set to improve the frequency of evening services.  in the evening. Until further notice, services will continue operating at two per hour and further details can be found here.

Tyne & Wear Metro

The first phase of demolition work has been completed at the Tyne and Wear Metro depot, paving the way for foundations of the new £70m maintenance facility to start going in.

The 100 year-old depot, at Gosforth in Newcastle, is being pulled down to make way for a state-of-the-art maintenance base for the new Metro train fleet, which is set to arrive in 2023.

Stadler, the Swiss train builder, and its construction partner VolkerFitzpatrick, have completed the partial demolition of the main building and are ready to lay the foundations of the new one and you can read more here.

Extension Projects

Local leaders have celebrated the installation of the first new structure to be installed for the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill Metro extension in the West Midlands.

Sections of the Tame Valley, Walsall and Old Main Line Canal were closed periodically in Autumn and Winter to allow for the demolition of aging bridges. Earlier this week the first new bridge was installed over the Walsall Canal in Wednesbury which has been purpose built to meet the needs of a modern tramway.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands joined Councillor Jackie Taylor, Sandwell Council Cabinet Member for Sustainable Transport, James Dennison, Enterprise Manager for the Canal & River Trust in the West Midlands and Ian Collins, Midland Metro Alliance Project Director to mark the milestone and you can read the full story here.

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