Our leading cities need to be globally competitive and they place a strong emphasis on securing economic growth and improving air quality. They recognise the need to develop sustainable, integrated transport solutions and, unquestionably, tramways can – and do – make a massive contribution towards delivering these goals.
Our key objective is to present a ‘single voice’ for the light rail sector in dealing with government and statutory bodies, helping to develop a co-ordinated and structured approach to regulation, procurement and standardisation. By doing so we can present a cogent and powerful argument to support the further expansion of tramways and other rapid transit systems across the UK.
Across the world, the light rail sector is recognised as a dynamic solution to urban transport requirements – one that is hugely popular with the travelling public.
UKTram brings together all organisations with an interest in the future development of light rail in the United Kingdom, ensuring it remains a viable, cost-effective and consistently improving transport option.
As a not-for-profit, membership body, we represent all light rail and ‘other guided transport’ systems in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and the Isle of Man. This includes second generation tramways, metros and subways (excluding London Underground), very light rail and personal rapid transit systems as well as the many heritage tramways serving the tourism sector.
Our membership takes in organisations from all sides of the industry including network operators, infrastructure and rolling stock maintenance organisations, passenger transport executives, local transport authorities, local government, concessionaires, manufacturers and equipment suppliers, industry advisors and expert consultants.
As such we take a leading role in both promoting the sector and representing its interests in terms of technical standards, safety and legislative changes. We co-ordinate a range of professional sector forums dedicated to promoting best practice, stretching performance standards, transferring knowledge and expertise and driving innovation and technical excellence.
We also serve as the keeper of Railway Safety Principles (part 2) and associated guidance and standards, having responsibility for reviewing and updating these documents. Meanwhile our Centre of Excellence provides a key resource to further promote innovation and assess the viability of prospective tramway schemes.
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Discussions between TfL London trams and other operators highlighted the need for a more co-ordinated approach to the development of tram systems in the UK. They concluded that the existing ‘ad hoc’ nature of development was holding back the nation’s light rail sector, escalating costs and increasing risks for private and public operators, developers and investors.2004
Following the publication of a major report into light rail by the National Audit Office, a government white paper and a 12-month consultation process involving organisations from across the sector, UK Tram is established. It aimed to address many issues highlighted in the NAO report, including the need for a more strategic approach to light rail development.2014
In response to the rapid growth of the sector and the publication of the Government's ‘Green Light for Light Rail’ report UK Tram undergoes a reconstitution. This process was started two years earlier with wide-ranging consultations with key stakeholders that have shaped the organisation into the powerful voice for the sector that it is today.
The principal aims of UK Tram are:
To promote the adoption of light rail as an effective, reliable, environmentally sustainable and cost effective way to meet the transport needs of modern urban areas.
Reduce the time and costs involved in developing new tramways in the UK and extending existing networks to broaden the market base and increase existing capacity and capability.
Increase technical standardisation across the sector whilst sharing and promoting best practice amongst tramway operators and those responsible for maintenance.
Draw together professionals from across light rail to deliver a single pool of expertise that’s accessible to national and local government as well as operators and other interested parties.
The structure of UKTram includes a number of advisory groups that regularly meet to discuss a comprehensive range of industry issues and share best practice. In addition to an Executive Group, the other advisory groups are:
These report directly to the UKTram Executive whilst overall governance lies with a board of directors made up of senior figures from across the sector.
You can find more information about individual members of the board below.
Our Centre of Excellence was established in 2012 to deliver expert advice to potential sponsors of tramways and light or ultra-light rail schemes. It is now established as a key resource to further promote innovation and assess the viability of prospective tramway schemes.
The centre’s role has developed over the years, evolving into an individual member organisation which provides a vital ‘one-stop shop’ for promoters of future tramways and which reflects changes in the way tramway schemes in the UK are planned and financed.
Since 2018, the centre’s membership has greatly expanded to cover all aspects of tramway planning, building and operations. This includes additional expertise on highway issues, guidance and standards, transport planning, safety verification and Transport and Works Act production.
We help schemes to present the strongest possible business case, enabling them to access any available funding, whether from Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) or from government funding for regional development and meeting environmental targets.
The centre is also working with Network Rail to form the basis of a Cross-Industry Light Rail Working Group, a major step forward that will give the industry a sharper focus, particularly for tram-train schemes under consideration.
The centre continues to make an invaluable contribution to smoothing the way for new tramway systems, easing traffic management and contributing to pollution reduction.