With recent commitments to investment in regional transport infrastructure, 2024 promises to be a pivotal year for light rail believes the Managing Director of the sector’s representative organisation, UKTram.
In a New Year message to colleagues across the sector, James Hammett said it’s now more important than ever to press the case for tramways and similar transit systems.
“In the autumn, we welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement of funding for an integrated transport scheme in West Yorkshire and other projects around the country, but we must ensure light rail remains a vital element of transport policy across the UK,” he explained.
“As we enter what is almost certainly an election year, we must work harder than ever to push investment in sustainable transport solutions even further up the political agenda.
“It’s vital that we double down on the message that light rail can transform urban areas by attracting inward investment, enhancing connectivity, improving air quality and reducing congestion.
“Over the past 12 months, UKTram has played a key role in shaping the transport debate, taking part in a series of high-profile regional, national and international forums while lobbying decision-makers and politicians from all major political parties.
“Building on this vital work, we will continue to collaborate with key stakeholders to help remove the barriers to the future expansion of light rail in the UK, including exploring new technology that can reduce the cost of future projects.
“Key to this is the expertise offered by our Centre of Excellence, which is currently working with the sponsors of proposed tramways in Stoke-on-Trent, Folkestone and the suggested Kennex system.
“Other UKTram functional groups are helping operators, owners and light rail engineers share best practice that has already helped networks adjust to post-pandemic changes to travel patterns while improving operational performance across the sector.
“Our Heritage Committee also intends to continue its work in supporting preserved tramways to capitalise on the post-pandemic trend for ‘staycation’ holidays while helping them to further reduce the risk of accidents by working more closely with the Light Rail Safety Standards Board and the Office of Rail and Road.
“I’m sure that 2024 will present its own challenges, but whatever happens, our members can be sure that UKTram will continue to work tirelessly to promote the interests of its members, and ensuring that opportunities to build on the sector’s undoubted success to date are not missed.
“On that note, I would also like to take this opportunity to wish all our members, suppliers and colleagues from across the sector a happy and prosperous New Year!”