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Light Rail news roundup 29th September 2023 Friday September 29, 2023

In this week’s news from the light rail sector – West Midlands Metro launches new social media channel, penalty fares rise on Manchester Metrolink, testing and commissioning on Tyne & Wear Metro and an award for Head of Engagement and Skills at Midland Metro Alliance.


A wearable device that’s been designed to detect the onset of fatigue in tram drivers has delivered remarkable results in independent testing commissioned by UKTram.

The organisation representing the light rail sector reports that the cutting-edge technology, developed by Integrated Human Factors, has an accuracy rate of greater than 98%.

Following extensive trials, prototype FOCUS+ devices have demonstrated their potential to reduce the risk of accidents by alerting control room operators of possible driver fatigue.

James Hammett, Managing Director of UK Tram, expressed his confidence in the technology and you can find out more here.

In other light rail news:

West Midlands Metro

A new social media channel has been launched by the Metro to engage with a new audience.

The popular tramway already has a loyal following on Facebook and Twitter and is now reaching out to a different audience with the introduction of an Instagram account.

The new page will feature eye-catching posts, promotions, competitions, snippets of Metro’s history and other essential information about the network, and you can read more here.

Manchester Metrolink 

The penalty fare for travelling without a valid ticket or pass on Metrolink has been increasing to £120 as part of ongoing efforts to tackle fare evasion on public transport.

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) is urging passengers to take note of the higher penalty fare and to ensure they touch-in at the start and touch-out at the end of every journey when using contactless, smart cards or concessionary passes.

Customers can also purchase a ticket or travelcard with cash or card at the ticket machine or via the new Bee Network, but cannot buy tickets on the tram.

As part of the crackdown, dozens of additional Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) are being employed to carry out ticket inspections as well as to help passengers travelling on the tram, and you can read more here.

London Tramlink 

Transport for London (TfL) has admitted it can no longer commit to funding the long hoped for extension of the Croydon tram network to Sutton, media reports suggest.

The extension, which formed part of the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s 2018 transport strategy, has been on pause since 2019 due to a ‘weak business case.’

An initial estimate placed the total funding required for the extension from South Wimbledon to Sutton at £560 million. However, TfL admitted that despite the money being put forward by both themselves and local councils a £440 million funding gap remains. You can read the full story here.

Tyne & Wear Metro 

Tens of thousands of detailed tests are taking place to get the new Tyne and Wear Metro train fleet ready for customer service, in what is one of the most important projects in the network’s history.

Stadler, the Swiss train building company, is working with Metro operator, Nexus, on this testing and commissioning phase of the £362m programme, which covers nearly every single component on the trains.

A total of 90,000 individual tests are required, with checks on everything, from seats and windscreen wipers, to more big-ticket items like brakes, CCTV, doors, wheels, and power supply.

There are 19,000 hours of training time, with the first few trains completing 37,000 kilometres of running, and you can read more here.

Extension Projects 

The Midland Metro Alliance’s Head of Engagement and Skills has been recognised for her work in inspiring the next generation into careers in construction at the prestigious Institution of Civil Engineers West Midlands Awards.

Rose Rees scooped the Bob Dunn Award for her tireless efforts to promote construction as an inclusive industry to schools and colleges across the region. The award is presented in memory of the late Bob Dunn, who made an outstanding contribution to the promotion of civil engineering in the West Midlands.

Rose was instrumental in setting up the alliance’s Trailblazer Apprenticeship in Light Rail, and the full story can be found here.


Working in partnership with academics and colleagues from across the sector, the Light Rail Safety and Standards Board is driving cutting-edge research into ways to limit damage and reduce the risk of injury should a tram fail to stop on reaching the end of the line.

Fortunately, such incidents are extremely rare, but ‘over-runs’ have been reported on networks around the world, and the LRSSB has identified the issue as a potential risk faced by UK tramways.

In response, the organisation responsible for light rail safety in the UK is working in collaboration with the Institute of Railway Research, based at the University of Huddersfield, on a project to assess the effectiveness of utilising sand traps in addition to traditional buffet stops at track termini.

The first phase of the project has involved the IRR collating information from operators, and more information is available here.

To be included in the next round-up, or the Members News section of the UKTram website, send your press releases to