Providing a ‘single voice’ for the sector, UKTram works tirelessly to support its members while driving a bold vision for the future of light rail in the UK.
While promoting the wider benefits of tramways, metros and other similar mass transit systems, UKTram is at the forefront of many initiatives that aim to remove the barriers to future expansion.
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. A full list of members can be found here.
Such a broad membership base enables us to provide an effective conduit between the sector and government, a role that proved vital during the global Covid-19 pandemic. Thanks to these relationships, the organisation worked closely with the UK and Scottish governments to secure more than £270m in emergency support for the sector.
At the same time, information supplied by our members and relayed to the Department for Transport and Transport Scotland by UKTram provided a valuable insight into the impact of Covid restrictions on essential services.
This intense activity has taken place alongside the broader work of UKTram, including the development of a co-ordinated and structured approach to regulation, procurement and standardisation.
Through pro-active working groups, we also draw upon expertise and experience from across the sector to share and promote best practice and take a leading role in the setting of technical standards and legislative changes. We also co-ordinate a range of professional sector forums dedicated to raising performance standards and driving innovation and technical excellence.
Meanwhile our Centre of Excellence provides a key resource to further promote innovation and assess the viability of prospective tramway schemes, while looking at ways to overcome the barriers to light rail expansion – including research into lower-cost options such as Very Light Rail.
Together, these activities are at the heart of a bold strategy for the future of light rail in the UK that recognises the need to develop sustainable, integrated transport solutions that attract investment, improve connectivity and deliver real environmental benefits.
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.
Listen to our podcast to delve deeper into the UK's light rail industry.
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.2022
In another milestone year for UKTram, the organisation secured long-term funding from the Department for Transport that is enabling it to step up its plans to deliver on a bold strategy for the future of light rail. This strategy, also published in 2022, sets out a bold vision that highlights the many benefits tramways and similar transit systems have already brought to key cities, while exploring ways to break down the barriers to further expansion.
Light rail is a national success story and through collaborative working and sharing best practice our industry consistently demonstrates a commitment to continuously improve. Our vision for the future is to see even more cities, towns and conurbations enjoy the many benefits that tramways and similar transit systems can bring, as highlighted in our landmark document, A Strategy for Light Rail in the UK.
The structure of UKTram includes a number of advisory groups and sub-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:
Sub-groups covering marketing and communications communications and HR have also been established and currently report into the UKTram Operations Group.
All main advisory groups 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, very light and 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, to provide a vital ‘one-stop shop’ for promoters of future tramways that reflects changes in the way light rail schemes in the UK are planned and financed.
Since 2018, its membership has expanded to cover all aspects of tramway planning, building and operations while providing additional expertise on highway issues, guidance and standards, transport planning, safety verification and Transport and Works Act production.
It also helps promoters of new projects 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 or to meet environmental targets.
To help achieve these aims the Centre has published a comprehensive ‘route map’ (available to download below) which provides a valuable tool for scheme sponsors and promoters as an increasing number of cities and large towns look for sustainable transport solutions.
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 of Excellence is also at the forefront of efforts to realise the potential of Very Light Rail to help meet the transport challenges faced by urban areas in the future.