Government confirm support for light rail

One of the themes which has been emerging in recent weeks during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic has been the financial strain it has been putting on various light rail systems with the Tyne and Wear Metro the first to express their concern at the start of the month. Now, the Department for Transport have confirmed that they are in discussions with local authorities to provide support although at this stage that is as far as the announcement has gone.

The announcement covers Manchester Metrolink, Nottingham Express Transit, Stagecoach Supertram, Tyne and Wear Metro and West Midlands Metro and is part of a package of support across the transport sector including for ferry services between the mainland and Isle of Wight and between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. There will also be further support for critical routes between Britain and the European mainland with the UK government joining forces with their Irish and French counterparts to ensure the supply of critical goods into the country.

Whilst there are more details on the ferry lifeline support, the press release is the first time that light rail has been publicly acknowledged as also requiring financial assistance and presumably more details will be forthcoming in the coming days and weeks. Of course, earlier this week Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, warned that Metrolink may have to be suspended due to the loss of revenue and so this announcement has come at an opportune moment.

The statement in full from the DfT says: “The government can also confirm that it will support the light rail systems in Sheffield, Manchester, West Midlands, Nottingham, and Tyne and Wear, and is working with local authorities to identify what support is needed to allow essential services to continue. The funding will help services continue to run and enable key routes to remain open for people travelling to hospitals, supermarkets or those who cannot work from home, such as NHS staff.”

This does not include either the Docklands Light Railway or London Tramlink, for which, presumably discussions are ongoing between the DfT and TfL based on the statements coming out from the capital about major financial concerns.

We’re keep an eye on any further developments in regards to financial support for all networks.

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