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Summit highlights success on key light rail targets Friday September 22, 2023

UKTram’s mission to support the growth of light rail in the UK remains on track to deliver a major boost for the sector and the travelling public.

Working in partnership with key stakeholders, the organisation is arguing the case for further investment in tramways and similar transit systems, while looking at ways to remove the barriers to future expansion.

It’s also taking the lead on a host of initiatives aimed at improving the already excellent performance of existing networks by sharing best practice, sector leaders have heard.

The organisation’s success in supporting the sector was highlighted at a high-profile summit in Birmingham this week that brought together senior figures from across light rail.

Speaking after the event, James Hammett, UKTram Managing Director, explained: “It’s clear that the sector is really coming together to address the challenges faced by the sector, not least increasing patronage in the face of evolving travel patterns following the Covid-19 pandemic and increasing diversity in the workforce.

“Through our functional working groups, which include representatives from all the UK’s major light rail systems, we are making real progress on identifying measures that can make a substantial difference to the customer experience.

“At the same time, they are looking at engineering solutions to common challenges with the aim of boosting service delivery and making travelling by tram an even more attractive proposition.”

In a keynote presentation during the UKTram Light Rail summit, Mr Hammett highlighted the progress the organisation has made against targets set out in its current business plan, and how its acclaimed strategy for the future of light rail has continued to evolve in line with emerging trends and the economic climate.

“While tramways have not received quite the same levels of post-pandemic support as some other forms of public transport, our members have worked extremely hard to adapt to a new operating environment, and we’re supporting them all the way.

“At the same time, we will continue to lobby for additional support and showcase the benefits the sector can bring when it comes to improving connectivity in urban areas while reducing carbon emissions.”

In addition to an update on the work of UKTram, the summit also included a presentation by the Chief Executive of the Light Rail Safety and Standards Board on its impressive achievements within just five years of its formation, including a complete overhaul of a comprehensive incident reporting system.

Progress made on the further development of a ‘route map’ for proposers of future schemes was also put under the spotlight by Colin Robey of the UKTram Centre of Excellence, and Sonya Byers from Women in Transport spoke on the need to support and encourage women to pursue careers in the transport industry.

Other topics of discussion included the emergence of artificial intelligence in the sector and new technology for rail monitoring, while Trevor Stocker, Head of Operations at Nottingham Trams, outlined initiatives to build relationships with local schools to help tackle anti-social behaviour. Sophie Allison, Interim Managing Director of West Midlands Metro, also provided an insight on the recent opening of an extension to Wolverhampton Station.

“Once again, the summit provided the ideal opportunity for the light rail community to come together for top-level discussions on a range of topics that will shape the future of the sector in the years ahead,” Mr Hammett added.