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Light rail news roundup 23rd July 2021 Friday July 23, 2021

In this week’s light rail news – ribbon cut on new Metro training academy, NET stars in short film premiere, extra validators installed on Luas, time lapse film captures demolition of Gosforth Metro Depot and Blackpool Brush Railcoach 298 returns to Crich.

Continued government support for light rail systems in England as remaining Covid-restrictions are lifted has been welcomed by UKTram.

A further £56 million is set to be shared between networks in Nottingham, Sheffield, Newcastle, Blackpool, Manchester and Birmingham following an announcement by the Department for Transport.

James Hammett, UKTram Manager Director, said the latest tranche of funding – which will be in place until April next year – will provide a degree of certainty for operators as they plan for the months ahead and you can read the full story here.

Also this week, following the wider lifting of restrictions on Monday, light rail operators have been reminding customers that wearing a face covering while on board remains ‘strongly recommended’. Manchester Metrolink and Tyne & Wear Metro have gone further by making it a condition of carriage on their services, as reported here and here.

In other light rail news:

West Midlands Metro

West Midlands Metro is set to create more than 160 new jobs as it expands and a recruitment campaign has been launched this week to help fill the first of those vacancies ahead of the opening of extensions to Wolverhampton Railway Station and Edgbaston later this year.

Roles available include tram drivers, mechanics and engineers, ticket inspectors and a whole range of support staff.  To give the new recruits the skills they need, as well as develop the careers of existing workers, West Midlands Metro has also opened a new training academy at its Wednesbury depot.

Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street visited the new academy to cut the ribbon and meet some of the team and the full story can be found here.


Nottingham’s tram network is playing a leading role in a new short film that recently saw its premiere at a festival in the city.

The story of two commuters who see each other every day across the tram tracks, before meeting properly at a bizarre support group, Alone Together is the work of local film students.

Written and directed by Connor McCay and produced by Georgia Nettleton, both recent graduates from Nottingham Trent University, the film is expected to have a wider release on social media later in the year and you can read more here.


Additional validators have been installed on platforms on both the Luas Green and Red Lines.

In addition, some of the existing Validators have been re-located to different areas on the platforms, making it easier and quicker for customers to Touch On / Off with their Leap Card or Public Services Card with Free Travel.

The additional validators will also help customers to observe physical distancing and you can read more here.

Tyne & Wear Metro

Demolition work at Gosforth Metro depot has been captured in a fascinating new time lapse film.

The footage showcases the first six months of the £70m project, which will see the current Metro depot replaced by a state-of-the-art new facility.

The footage was shot by VolkerFitzpatrick, the company that is building the new Metro depot and features months of work – from the start on site last winter and part of the current Metro depot being ripped down, to the more recent enabling and foundation works on site.

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 and you can read more here.


Blackpool Brush Railcoach 298 recently returned to Crich after being stored off-site for a number of years and its restoration has taken another major step forward.

During the last few months, the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways have been working on the construction of a new underframe for Blackpool 298 at their Boston Lodge Works, as detailed here.

This is due to 298’s current underframe being in too poor a condition to give it a 30-year operational life at Crich.

The restoration project is being joint funded by the Blackpool Railcoach Fund and the Tramcar Sponsorship organisation (TSO) and you can read more here.

Meanwhile Queen’s Awards for Voluntary Service, 2020, has been presented to volunteers and representatives of Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours by Joan Humble, the chair of the Blackpool Civic Trust, who is also a member of Lancashire Queen’s Award Panel as seen on Twitter.

Light Rail Conference

“Why does the Government continue to provide funding to support light rail? Because we recognise that it’s a very attractive form of green transport, it integrates extremely well with other networks and because it really has the ability to play a critical role in drawing in business, investment and opening areas up to opportunity in terms of our environmental ambitions. It just connects people in so many ways.”

Those were the words of Light Rail Minister Baroness Vere, delivered in a virtual Keynote to industry leaders at the 15th Annual UK Light Rail Conference and exhibition, organised by light and urban rail specialists Mainspring and held on 13-14 July in Gateshead.

Blending both live and virtual elements, the first major in-person gathering of the sector in 18 months was supported by Nexus, Transport North East and key manufacturing and supply chain partners and you can read the full story here.

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