More funding for Scottish light rail systems

The Scottish Government has confirmed that they will continue to support Edinburgh Trams and Glasgow Subway until the end of September 2021 following the announcement of a further £5.6 million of emergency funding. This brings the total committed to these systems to over £34 million since the start of the pandemic.

This announcement has come after further discussions between the Scottish Government and Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) and Edinburgh Trams in regards to available resources due to the ongoing changes in travel demand as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Graeme Dey, Minister for Transport, said: “Public transport systems in our two biggest cities play a vital role in keeping Scotland moving safely, while physical distancing requirements mean capacity on public transport remains reduced. Our support to date has enabled Glasgow Subway and Edinburgh Trams to carry over four million trips since July 2020. The virus has not gone away and as we move towards the Level 0 target in July and beyond Level 0 target of August, there are still challenges for public transport, including for light rail. This additional funding until the end of September will enable transport to support the pandemic response set out in our updated Strategic Framework as well as our overarching aim to suppress the virus to a level consistent with alleviating its harms while we recover and rebuild for a better future. I thank everyone working across the light rail sector who continue to provide services under challenging circumstances. The subway and tram will help our wider society and economy recover as we continue our gradual and safe transition out of lockdown.”

George Lowder, Chief Executive of Transport for Edinburgh, said: “We’re beginning to see some signs of recovery in public transport patronage in the city. To support this, we are operating a normal tram timetable, which also helps maintain physical distancing. Many of our regular customers, however, continue to work from home, international and domestic air travel is still significantly curtailed and hospitality, retail and sport have not fully opened up, so this additional funding is greatly appreciated until the UK, and beyond, continue to ease restrictions and return to the new different.”

And the SPT Chair, Cllr Dr Martin Bartos, added: “SPT welcomes this further funding from the Scottish Government until the end of September. As lockdown restriction ease, we hope to see numbers travelling on the Subway steadily increase to their usual levels but we expect this to take some time yet. This funding is essential as we look towards our recovery from the impact of the pandemic, and we play our role in helping the wider economy return to normal.”

While the Glasgow Subway is a little outside the remit of this website, Edinburgh Trams has continued to operate a service throughout the pandemic with the service recently returning to the full timetable in recognition of the gentle easing of restrictions in Scotland.

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