Nottingham tram

UK: The Urban Transport Group has published the Leading light: What light rail can do for city regions report produced by consultancy Steer Group, which sets out how light rail supports economic growth, social inclusion and environmental gains.

The key findings are that:

  • light rail has supported economic growth in the areas served, promoted social inclusion and led to environmental benefits including a reduction in carbon emissions;
  • there is a need to maintain the connectivity provided by light rail as the economies of the places served recover from the pandemic;
  • investment in maintenance and renewal will continue and potentially enhance the benefits that light rail brings to the economy, society and the environment;
  • a stable government policy and funding environment would help promoters produce light rail proposals that will bring further economic, societal and environmental benefits.

Sheffield Supertram tram and tram-train (Photo: Tony Miles)

‘Light rail systems play a bigger role in the life of British urban areas now than they have for well over 50 years’, said Stephen Edwards, Executive Director at South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive and UTG lead for light rail. ‘This report sets out in detail, and with numerous case studies, why and how light rail has been such a success story for the places it serves.

‘It also supports our wider case to the Comprehensive Spending Review for both continued funding support for our light rail networks, whilst patronage is constrained due to Covid, and, in the longer term, for a more stable and consistent approach to extending the benefits of light rail to more places and passengers.’