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UK: Light rail industry body UKTram is seeking comments on its draft Light Rail Strategy for the UK, which is due to be submitted to ministers and the Department for Transport later this year.

The document ‘builds a compelling case for future investment in light rail and looks at ways to remove barriers to the expansion of existing systems and the building of new networks’, said UKTram Managing Director James Hammett. ‘Crucially, it highlights the many economic, environmental and social benefits of putting tramways and similar transit systems at the heart of future integrated urban transport networks.’


The association notes that mobility needs are evolving, with people seeking convenience, speed and predictability. It argues that light rail — along with variants such as tram-trains and very light rail — has the potential to serve as a central artery for urban areas and create a connection between other modes, to provide orbital connectivity between suburbs, and radial access from the outskirts to the inner city. However, success will depend on integration of the light rail into an overall urban development strategy. A minimum ridership of 3 000 passengers/ direction/h is seen as necessary to ensure cost-effectiveness and ‘some degree of self funding sustainability’.

The industry would like to see tailored funding support from government to enable it to get back to normal after the pandemic, along with continued commitment and engagement from stakeholders, wider transport strategies to maximise integration, and the use of international innovation.

West Midlands Metro tram in Birmingham city centre (Photo: Tony MIles)

Director of the Urban Transport Group Jonathan Bray stressed the importance of building an ‘armoury’ of evidence to support the argument for light rail as part of a national debate on how cities can be made better, rather than being considered as a local issue.

CEO of Keolis UK Alistair Gordon said the country was failing to match continental neighbours when it comes to investment. He noted that only three of the 72 metropolitan regions in Europe with a population of more than 1 million do not have either a light rail or metro network, and all are in the UK.

Comments on the document should be submitted to UKTram by October 8.

  • Read Alistair Gordon’s reflections on UK light rail in the Autumn 2021 issue of Metro Report International magazine.