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Initiative highlighted potential of light rail schemes Friday June 23, 2023

An intense programme to assess the potential of proposed light rail projects has found that a number of schemes are in a ‘good place’ for future development.

The Government’s Restore Your Railway initiative has seen plans revisited and reviewed for practicality and economic impact, sector experts have heard.

Simon Coulthard, Head of Light Rail Knowledge & Development at Network Rail and a member of the Centre of Excellence, has provided regular updates and provided a significant interface between the Restore your Railway review team and the light rail sector.

Mat Taylor, Chair of the Centre of Excellence, explained: “Although the Restore Your Railway initiative is winding down, it has again highlighted the benefits tramways and similar transit systems can bring to cities and towns across the country. The initiative has identified many schemes that could provide new tram-train, light and very light rail opportunities in the UK over the next few years.

“Even if some proposals will not be able to progress in the near future, many are in a good place for further development over the next few years.

“Having Simon working with us and linking Network Rail and the Heavy Rail sector to UK Tram is such a benefit. Ten years ago, we did not have such strong links with the organisation. But, thankfully, Simon – along with other members of the Centre of Excellence – have had a hugely positive impact on bringing the two sectors closer together.”

In addition to helping review the viability of some of the projects, and supporting stakeholders in building sound business cases for proposed schemes, the Centre of Excellence has also been looking at ways to speed up the development process.

Vicki Matthews and Jane Wakeham of law firm Winckworth Sherwood have been analysing the Transport and Work Act Orders, with a view to identifying any areas that could be streamlined for future light rail projects.

“Their work very much epitomises the approach adopted by the Centre of Excellence – identifying challenges light rail faces and then setting out to either resolve them or to make them easier to overcome,” Mat said.

“It’s not about focusing on problems, it’s about finding solutions and sharing them with the wider sector,” he added.