More changes on the way across the UK

Change, constant and quick moving change at that!, seems to be buzz word at the moment on various UK tram networks with yet more service and ticketing amendments on the way in the coming days and weeks. In this latest update we see ticketing changes in Manchester, Sheffield and the West Midlands and a service change and an amendment in operating practices in Edinburgh amonst other alterations.

Starting off in the West Midlands and English National Concessionary Pass holders have been informed that as from Monday 1st June all previously removed morning peak restrictions will be reimposed. They had been relaxed from mid-March but as more people return to work and start to use public transport more these restrictions will be reapplied from Monday 1st June.

Laura Shoaf, Managing Director of Transport for West Midlands Metro, explains more: “We have kept public transport running throughout lockdown to ensure essential workers, such as NHS hospital workers and supermarket staff could get to work. And while demand for bus and tram services was very low and supermarkets were opening early for older people we were able to temporarily lift those restrictions on concessionary travel passes to help those people get their essential supplies during lockdown. Now the lockdown restrictions are being eased those limited spaces on our buses, trains and trams are needed for school children and working people so the peak time restriction will be reinstated from Monday. Along with our partners we are doing all we can to keep the network safe, including extra cleaning of heavy touch areas on transport and extra guidance for passengers. Although there are more services running, the message remains to only use public transport where there is no alternative.”

North of the border and Edinburgh Trams have announced that they are starting to roll out new signage across both the trams and tramstops to help keep passengers and colleagues safe. This will help passengers to maintain social distancing both on board the trams and at stops, which remains one of the key messages when travelling around Edinburgh – and indeed when travelling anywhere.

Edinburgh Trams are also encouraging people to wear masks when on board, use contactless forms of payment to remove the need for handling cash, asking passengers to present tickets to inspectors in line with the “touchless” ticket checking procedure and to wash or sanitise hands both before and after travelling. Drivers are continuing to open all doors at all stops to reduce the need to touch surfaces on the trams and an enhanced cleaning regime is in place with both trams and stops sanitised regularly including ticket machines.

The Edinburgh Trams service will also be increased from Monday 1st June with a 15 minute frequency in operation throughout the day instead of the daytime 15 minute frequency/evening 30 minute frequency split.

Meanwhile, following on from their previous announcement that concessionary passes would not be valid before 0930 Monday to Friday, Transport for Greater Manchester have also confirmed that NHS and social care workers will no longer be able to travel for free on Manchester Metrolink. This offer was introduced from 11th April but as from Tuesday 2nd June, and as a result of increased passenger numbers, this offer will be removed with full fares now required.

The last system to feature in this article is Stagecoach Supertram and whilst there is no change planned in the service this is due to be reviewed “once details of the proposed ongoing support for light rail, announced by the government on 23 May 2020, are known.” It has also been confirmed that the concessionary pass restrictions will be reintroduced from Monday 8th June across South Yorkshire (in keeping with other systems they had been lifted at the height of the crisis), meaning they will be unable to be used for free travel before 0930 from this date.

Other news from Sheffield concerns the Supertram Link bus service SL/SL1A, which linked with tram services at Middlewood. It has been announced that these are to end as from Monday 1st June and be replaced with service 57/57A which will run from Hillsborough Interchange a. The decision, which has caused a great deal of complaint in the region, will give access to a more frequent tram service with both the Blue and Yellow routes serving Hillsborough, but will mean there are now no buses between Middlewood and Ougthibridge.

Finally, details of the full split of the government funding for light rail in England has been revealed on the DfT website and is as follows:

Manchester Metrolink – £13.3 million

Tyne and Wear Metro – £7.6 million

Nottingham Express Transir – £3.5 million

Sheffield Supertram – £2.6 million

West Midlands Metro – £1.6 million

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