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Light rail news roundup 2nd July 2021 Friday July 2, 2021

In light rail news this week – Metro steps up recruitment ahead of expansion, NET joins city Windrush anniversary celebrations, frequency increase on Metrolink, summer timetable announced in the Isle of Man and LRSSB plan Human Factors workshop.  

Continued financial support for Edinburgh Trams and Glasgow Subway from the Scottish Government has been welcomed by UKTram.

Responding to the announcement this week of a further £5.6 million of emergency funding, George Lowder, Chairman of UKTram, said it would help operators maintain essential services while Covid restrictions remain in place.

The new round of funding brings the total light rail support available in Scotland to over £34 million and will be in place until the end of September 2021. Its announcement follows detailed discussions with Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) and Transport for Edinburgh, with the support of UKTram, and you can read the full story here.

New figures have also revealed the full impact of Covid-19 restrictions on tram patronage and revenues across the country, highlighting the importance of government support that has helped to keep vital services running.

Official statistics published by the Department for Transport show that, in England, the number of customer journeys fell by nearly 70 per cent in the year to March 2021, with average patronage down to just seven per cent during the first lockdown in April last year.

By September, following the easing of some restrictions, passenger numbers returned to around 49% of pre-pandemic levels but fell again in November and December as the second wave of the pandemic struck and you can read more here.

In other light rail news:

West Midlands Metro

Ahead of a major network expansion, the operator of West Midlands Metro continues to step up its recruitment activity and is now looking to fill six engineering roles.

Midland Metro Limited currently has vacancies for an Electrical Engineer, Rail Services Engineer, Maintenance Team Leader, Infrastructure Maintenance Planner, Infrastructure Technician and Reliability Technician.

All advertised roles offer competitive salaries and a benefit package that includes free travel on the Metro and bus for successful candidates and their partner, pension, life insurance and discounted gym membership and car servicing.

You can read the full story here, and more details about the vacancies and information on how to apply can be found here.

Meanwhile, work to improve step-free access at two busy tram stops in the West Midlands is set to start next week.

Investment in essential upgrades to the lifts at Bilston Central and Lodge Road aims to provide a more reliable service for customers, and West Midlands Metro is putting in place a range of measures to minimise any inconvenience while the work is carried out and the full story can be found here.


Nottingham’s tram network, and members of the NET team, have played a high-profile role in the city’s Windrush anniversary celebrations.

As part of a series of events marking the arrival of the first pioneers aboard the famous ship in 1948, a special tram carried invited guests from a reception at the Council House to The Forest, ahead of further celebrations at the nearby New Arts Exchange.

At the controls were Anthony Brown and Audley Stewart, whose parents were early arrivals to the UK from the Caribbean, while football legend Viv Anderson MBE enjoyed a trip on board a tram named in his honour. For the full story, click here.

Manchester Metrolink

Metrolink passengers are set for a service boost this summer, with the introduction of more frequent off-peak trams to cope with increasing demand.   

From next week, trams will run at least every 12 minutes across the network all day, representing a significant enhancement to the current 20-minute off-peak frequency.

In a further boost, and to increase capacity in the areas where it is most needed, a six-minute service will operate on the busiest lines at the busiest times – and later running trams will once again be in place across the weekend and you can read more here.

Tyne & Wear Metro

An empty display board at Wallsend Metro Station has been given a new lease of life by Nexus and Wallsend Chamber of Commerce.

The unit now displays a detailed map of Wallsend town centre, highlighting attractions and amenities, walking distances and points of interest.

Segedunum Roman Fort and Museum is a popular attraction in the town, attracting thousands of visitors every year, and this initiative aims to encourage people to find their way there when using public transport. It also encourages them to explore the town further and the full story can be found here.


The Manx Electric Railway and Snaefell Mountain Railway has confirmed its operating timetable for the summer.

The timetable will see services running five days a week and also includes an evening service on the MER with a round-trip available from Derby Castle to Ramsey at 2055 (arriving back in Douglas at 2340).

The newly announced timetables started this week, replacing the previously announced services for the first two and a half weeks of July and further details can be found here.


Human Factors (HF) theory in relation to light rail safety is to be put in the spotlight by the LRSSB during a planned workshop that follows on from recent BowTie XP training sessions.

The event aims to cover practical ways to include HF in safety planning and how to incorporate it in a LRSSB project to build a BowTie database of risk assessments for the light rail sector.

The workshop will be led by Dr Amanda Elliott – a HF expert with an engineering background who runs a consultancy focusing on expertise in rolling stock, depots and railway signalling – and will look at the role of the individual, the impact of regulators and society and the design of trams, infrastructure and controls.

Further details can be found here.

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