Whilst local government officials in England have been very vocal with their need for extra funding to continue to operate light rail systems throughout the pandemic, north of the border it has been a far quieter affair, although obviously Edinburgh Trams has been facing the same challenges as those lines in England. Bit now it has been confirmed that after length negotiations both Edinburgh Trams and the Glasgow Subway are set to receive up to £9 million in funding to support their continued operation. The money is to be provided between now and the end of September to ensure that services on both lines continue to operate throughout the summer months.
As with light rail systems in England, Edinburgh Trams have seen a significant fall in passenger number since restrictions were put into place on travel as a result of the pandemic which has in turn obviously led to lower revenue. This funding will allow the line to continue operating a service during this period.
Martin Dean, Chair of Edinburgh Trams, said: “Throughout this pandemic, we have continued to operate a service for our customers who are key workers or who’ve relied on us to make essential journeys. With strict social distancing requirements and significant loss of revenue, this has been challenging. However, our colleagues have acted quickly to make necessary changes to our services and worked with us to protect jobs through the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. For this, we are extremely proud. This funding will help to support our efforts and keep our services operational. However, 2020 will remain a challenging year for the organisation.”
The funding award has come after detailed discussions with both Edinburgh Trams and the Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) by the Scottish Government. It takes into account the key service the lines have for their local communities and the pressure their non-operation would have on other transport services in the regions.
Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, said: “The Glasgow Subway and Edinburgh Trams provide key connections within our two biggest cities and as we emerge through the stages of lockdown demand for public transport will continue to rise. The services provide essential capacity and link with bus, rail and park and ride facilities. Over the next three months we will provide up to £9 million of financial support to operators to enable services to continue. Any restrictions on these services could have placed unsustainable demands on other modes, especially bus and so this funding will assist capacity across all public transport. I would like to thank all the people working across the light rail sector who have, and continue to, provide these important connections. These services have allowed our key workers and others who needed to travel for essential journeys to do so during very challenging circumstances. Going forward the subway and tram will help our wider society and economy recover as we emerge through the next phases of easing lockdown. We will continue to monitor the demand, capacity and costs of support across all transport modes over the coming months.”
Whilst up to £9 million worth of funding has been confirmed, details of how this will be split between the two operations has not been announced.